The Link Between Your Story’s Pinch Points

Of all the paired structural beats in a story, the Pinch Points are perhaps the most obvious. There are only two of them, they have the same name, and they perform essentially the same function in both their first and second iteration. They’re also perhaps the least known and most confusing of all the major […]

How to Know Which Parts of Your Story Readers Will Like Best (It Isn’t Always What You Think)

You want readers to like your story. You want to give them something to love on every single page. But it’s so much easier said than done. How can you know—really know—which parts of your story readers will like and which will have them yawning and skipping ahead? So many stories, in all mediums, hit […]

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5 Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Loyalty

Part 22 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel There’s little in this cosmos that writers want more than our readers’ love and respect. We want them to buy our stories, love our stories, tell their friends about our stories, buy more stories, support us in style for the rest of our lives, […]

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5 Ways to Successfully Start a Book With a Dream

Don’t start a book with a dream.  This has become one of those bits of writing advice that has passed into legend, right along with “show, don’t tell” and “write what you know.” There are so many good reasons for this. Dream openings are notorious for being boring, irrelevant, misleading, and cliched. As a “fake” opening, […]

6 Ways to Set Up Your Story in the First Chapter

Your Ultimate First Chapter Checklist, Pt. 3: Introducing the Story

The reason the first chapter of a story is so complex is because it bears a triple load of responsibility. First, it must hook readers. Then it must offer a compelling and interesting scene of its own. And finally, it must set up the entire story to come. Today, let’s dive into our third and […]

5 (Not-So-Little) Additions to the Great Novel-Writing Checklist

5 (Not-So-Little) Additions to the Great Novel-Writing Checklist

Learning how to write a successful novel is largely a matter of memorizing and mentally tracking the vast number of “parts” that make a story run. Honestly, this alone is sometimes the hardest part of the entire job. There’s a lot to remember—which is why, today, we’re going to look at the second part of our […]

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Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 56: Unfulfilled Foreshadowing

Sometimes writing feels like magic. You look back at the story you’ve created and it seems like it came from beyond you. One of the coolest examples of this is with foreshadowing. Some little something you wrote in the early chapters without even thinking about it ends up being a huge clue or bit of symbolism […]

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Foreshadow a Story

Part 11 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Really, your job as an author can be summed up in one simple word: control. It is your responsibility to control readers’ experience of your story, to make them think and feel very specific things. One of the most important and powerful ways in which […]

Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

Are You Telling the Wrong Story?

Sometimes the story you start out writing is not the story you end up telling. The beginning and the ending are two different stories–and the inevitable result is that one of those is the wrong story. How can you tell when you’ve got two halves that don’t form a single whole? How can identify which […]

How to Create Awesome Scene Arcs That Surprise Readers

There is a secret to writing good scenes. And since scenes are the heart of story itself, it’s ultimately one of the most important secrets to writing good stories, period. You may be surprised to learn this secret is not scene structure (in the classic sense of goal / conflict / disaster / reaction / dilemma […]