Conflict in Fiction: What It Really Is and Why It’s Important to Plot

Conflict is one of the central engines of story. We’ve all heard it: no conflict, no story. On the surface, that makes total sense. But I find there can be a lot of confusion around the word “conflict.” What is conflict in fiction really? What is its purpose? What does it look like in a […]

6 Questions to Help You Avoid Repetitive Scenes

It takes a lot of scenes to make a novel. Not only do we need enough scenes to progress the plot and get the characters from Point A to Point B, we also need to reach a certain word count so the book can be a novel. (Or the movie can be a movie. Ya […]

5 Questions About Scene Sequences

In many ways story structure is a fractal pattern. The same patterns we find on the macro level of the entire story arc also repeat themselves, within an ever-tightening spiral, from scene structure all the way down to sentence structure. Somewhere in between story and scene, we find scene sequences. Within the story’s larger narrative, […]

Critique: 4 Ways to Write Sequel Scenes That Grip Readers

Scene structure asks for a one-two punch pairing of action and reaction—or as Dwight V. Swain named them in what has come to be considered “classic” scene structure, scene and sequel. The need to write sequel scenes, the reaction half of the equation, is sometimes overlooked and misunderstood. This is unfortunate, since the reaction phase […]

An Intuitive 4-Step Process for Creating Vibrant Scene Structure

Creating scene structure is a key writing skill. Great scenes go a long way toward great storytelling; weak scenes result in weak storytelling. Unfortunately, many writers often struggle with vague, sometimes contradictory approaches to writing scenes. A scene should be a complete narrative unit. It should involve a relatively small number of primary characters—except when […]

15 Productive Tasks You Can Still Do Even When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

Don’t feel like writing right now? Or maybe you don’t have the time? Or maybe you’re just blocked as all get out at the moment? Whatever the case, there’s no reason you can’t still use what time and motivation you do have to feel productive about your writing—because “writing” is really about a whole lot […]

This Is How to Transform Info Dumps Into Exciting Plot Reveals

Clues, mysteries, plot reveals, and plot twists—these are some of a writer’s stock tricks for hooking readers page after page. But as important as these tricks are, when they’re asked to bear the load of being the main attraction for readers, they too often turn into boring info dumps. Imagine you’re reading a story in […]

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How to Write Interesting Scenes

Here’s a secret about storytelling that many writers overlook. An interesting plot isn’t what makes an interesting story. Interesting characters aren’t what make an interesting story either. In reality, a story is only as interesting as its scenes. That sounds almost too obvious to think about. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it too specifically myself […]

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4 Pacing Tricks to Keep Readers’ Attention

Part 21 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Stories live or die on their pacing. Great characters and concepts are the heartbeat of good fiction, but even the greatest can struggle to keep readers’ attention if the pacing is off. Pacing is a lot like tone. It varies depending on the type […]

The 10-Step Checklist to Writing an Above-Average Novel

“Anybody can write a novel.” Writers sometimes hear that statement from dismissive non–writer family and friends. Rightfully, we dislike the insinuation, since we know full well how much education, talent, skill, effort, and dedication is required for “anybody” to write a novel. Still, there is a certain measure of truth in the idea that “anybody can […]