Most Common Writing Mistakes: Characters Who Lack Solid Story Goals

Characters have to want something, right? That’s the whole point of a story. The character wants something; the antagonistic force gets in his way; conflict ensues. Bing, bang, boom. So it’s totally a no-brainer to point out that a book in which a character lacks solid story goals is a book that’s not going to […]

Learn How to Structure Your Scenes–in 5 Minutes!

Today, I’m guest posting on The Write Now Coach with a post titled, “Learn How to Structure Your Scenes—in 5 Minutes!” Here’s an excerpt: You know my favorite thing about story structure? Actually, it’s a little hard to narrow down a list that includes such goodies as stronger stories, easier first drafts, and solid answers to […]

Action and Reaction: The Building Blocks of Story Structure

Today, I’m guest posting on Jody Hedlund’s blog, with the post “Action and Reaction: The Building Blocks of Story Structure.” Here’s an excerpt: Sometimes writers get a little freaked out by the idea of story structure. Too complicated, too confining, too vague. This is ironic, since structure, when properly understood, actually simplifies the writing process, […]

Writing Scenes You Haven’t Seen

Compelling fiction is driven by scene. We can feel omnipotent when writing a fictional scene, wielding complete control over every detail, every action, every sensory experience. But there are limits to that power; what we include must seem real to the readers. Creating a sense of the “real” is a particular challenge for writers of historical fiction, who must stay […]

Scene Structure Exceptions: Incidents and Happenings

After our recent series about scene structure, it might seem that everything in a book must be tied down hard and fast within that framework. But what about when something in your story doesn’t seem to fit into the goal/conflict/disaster paradigm of the scene? What if something happens (and needs to happen) that doesn’t create conflict and doesn’t end […]

12 Tips for Writing and Releasing Collaborative Book Bundles

Episodic Storytelling? Here’s Why

The term “episodic” is rarely a compliment when used for a novel. What it usually indicates is a herky-jerkiness to the plot, a lack of cohesion, and an overall story arc that doesn’t pull together into a concerted theme. Not exactly what most of us are striving for. What we want is for the plot, […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 12: Frequently Asked Questions

Once authors grasp Scene* structure, their whole approach to storytelling can become clearer and more refined. At first blush, it can be a subject that takes a while to fully grasp and, as a result, can spawn all kinds of questions. But all you clever Wordplayers seem to have caught on without so much as […]

Structuring Your Story's Scenes: Variations on the Sequel

Structuring Your Scenes, Pt. 11: Variations on the Sequel Scene

Sequels*, even more than scenes, offer all kinds of flexibility in scene structure. In large part, this flexibility is what can make sequels difficult to quantify in stories. Unlike the scene, sequels can be so subtle they blend right into the scenery. This can sometimes lead authors to believe sequels aren’t as important as scenes, but their flexibility […]

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 10: Options for Decisions in a Scene Sequel

Perhaps the most instinctive of all the Scene’s* building blocks is the decision. This third and final piece of the sequel grows out of the character’s dilemma and leads right into the next scene’s goal. In scene structure, the decision is the little cattle prod on your story’s backside that keeps it moving forward. Conceivably, your characters […]

The Secret to Show, Don't Tell

The Secret to Show, Don’t Tell

Gone are the days of the long narrative passages we used to see in novels written by greats like Dickens and Steinbeck. Even though literary prose is still highly praised and found in many bestselling commercial novels, the trend over the last few decades has been to “show, not tell.” Meaning, readers prefer scenes in which they are watching […]