How to Write Unique Themes

How to Write Unique Themes

Here’s a mind-bender for you: the best story themes are both universal and unique. But how does that even work? How can you learn to write unique themes that say something fresh and new—and yet are resonant to every person on the planet? Good question. This is something I’ve been mulling lately after a comment […]

Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

Learn 5 Ways to Take Risks With Your Writing

We writers are really kind of a whiny bunch. Our Facebook and Twitter streams, our blogs, sometimes even our books are full of discussions about how hard it is to to be writers. There’s a lot of (mostly) good-natured woe-is-me-ing; sharing of commiserative quotes from our patrons, St. Hemingway and St. Plath; and so, so much […]

4 Ways to Prevent Formulaic Story Structure

4 Ways to Prevent Formulaic Story Structure

One of the most common concerns writers have about story theory is the fear of creating formulaic story structure. If you’re following a set pattern of dictated beats for your story, then won’t your story lack originality? Won’t readers see the expected plot turns coming from a mile off? Indeed, won’t story structure inhibit your […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes (Flat Plots)

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 60: Flat Plots

One of the most deflating criticisms authors hear is that “they’re writing flat plots.” Not only does this (seem to) indicate a certain lack of personal depth, it’s also a sign the story is boring and forgettable. Fortunately, there’s no reason you need ever fall prey to this pitfall. In our last installment of the Most […]

Why Writers Should Never Worry About Originality

The Lazy Author’s 6-Question Guide to Writing an Original Book

Never once have I worried that I might not be writing an original book. Even just saying that kinda sounds like a dirty secret—like maybe the only kind of author who could say such a thing is either one who lacks anxiety enough to care if her stories are original and/or one who lacks integrity enough to check if […]

The #1 Tweak to Writing Truly Original Stories and Characters

The 4 Tweaks to Writing Truly Original Stories and Characters

The process of writing original stories is shrouded in mystery. Occasionally, as part of my daily Writing Question of the Day (#WQOTD) on Twitter and Facebook, I’ll ask, “What makes your story original?” It’s a question that tends to get fewer responses than normal, and the responses I do receive are often nebulous or downright uncertain. […]

A Sure-Fire Shortcut to Create Unique Characters

A Sure-Fire Shortcut to Create Unique Characters

I answer a lot of questions from writers, and if I had a nickel for every email I get asking about how to write unique characters and original plots—well, I’d have a lot of nickels. The quest for unique characters is one all writers share. And granted, it’s a tricky one, because, as we all […]

The Single Best Trick for Originality in Your Fiction

The Single Best Trick for Originality in Your Fiction

This week’s video shares the most important question you can ask yourself about originality in your fiction and how to access it in every single scene.   Video Transcript: Originality is an important quality test for fiction—although perhaps not quite as much as we like to make out. Pulitzer-winner Willa Cather tells us, There are […]

are you creating your own personal cliches

Are You Creating Your Own Personal Cliches?

This week’s video discusses how authors sometimes create and perpetuate their own cliches from book to book—and how to conquer the tendency. Video Transcript: Here’s something to think about. There’s a line in Massy Tadjedin’s Last Night, in which a character who’s a writer says, You live with your first book all your life…. It […]

Using genre to help you brainstorm unique story ideas

Using Genre to Help You Brainstorm Unique Story Ideas

Ideas are essential for fiction. What seems like a new idea to you might be an ancient idea to everyone else. You have to examine the background or meta-story of your chosen genre. However, all is not lost, as you can mashup genres to revitalize classic or cheesy story ideas. Why Have New Ideas? The […]