Is Your Story Too Complicated? Here Are 9 Signs

Calling a story “complex” is a high compliment. But what is complexity? How can we learn how to write stories that are complex—without skidding across that narrow dividing line into complicated? What’s the difference between a complex story and a complicated story? And is your story too complicated? This a topic I’ve spent quite some […]

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 […]

How to Spot and Avoid Self-Indulgent Writing:

How to Spot and Avoid Self-Indulgent Writing

As writers, we have the opportunity to live lives of creativity, in which we get to craft whole worlds that conform to our every whim. Whether you’re writing your first book or your thirtieth, it’s always going to be a heady experience. But this comes with certain inherent pitfalls. Sometimes all this power can go […]

The Great Novel-Writing Checklist (Just in Time for NaNoWriMo!)

I adore lists. They bring order to the chaos of my brain and allow me to rest in the knowledge that even if I don’t remember everything I have to do, the list remembers [spoken in an epic Jeremy Irons bass]. This is why today I’m going to share you with you my ultimate novel-writing checklist—and […]

How To Choose An Immersive Setting

4 Ways to Choose the Right Story Setting

Most writers don’t have too much trouble when it comes to how to choose the right story setting for their books. Middle Earth; Maycomb, Alabama; Hogwarts—it’s often fairly obvious which locations will serve the needs of the story; then it’s just as matter of picking the best one. But what about the rest of the settings? […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 50: Info Dumps

On its most fundamental level, a novel is nothing more or less than the dissemination of information. As such, the writer who understands exactly how and where to share information is a writer who understands the most fundamental skill of storytelling. That’s why info dumps are such a big, bad deal. They’re peanut butter in […]

Learn How NOT to Waste Your Story Setting’s Full Potential

Learn How NOT to Waste Your Story Setting’s Full Potential

This week’s video talks about how Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island benefited from a full and imaginative use of its story setting—and how you can add the same value to your own book. Video Transcript: Story setting should never be a throwaway decision. Your setting is going to influence every page you write. Not only does […]

2 Ways to Make the Most of Your Story’s Climactic Setting

2 Ways to Make the Most of Your Story’s Climactic Setting

This week’s video points out some little-known considerations about creating an awesome and perfectly planned climactic setting for your story. Video Transcript: If we think of a story as sort of like a funnel, then the climax is the very tip of that funnel. In short, there’s not much room down there. Whatever is going […]

The Secret of Choosing the Right Setting for Your Story's Climax

The 5 Secrets of Choosing the Right Setting for Your Story’s Climax

When you plan your story’s climax, the first thing to come to mind might not be the setting. Too often, the climactic setting is an afterthought. The action, after all, is what’s most important–not where it takes place. But setting can make or break any scene in your story, and this is nowhere more true than […]

your story's normal world

Creating Stunning Character Arcs, Pt. 6: The Normal World

Who wants to read about a boring old Normal World? The Lost World? Sure! The Exciting, Unusual, Exotic, and Absolutely Thrilling World? You betcha. But the Normal World? Isn’t that a pretty lame way to begin a story? Nope. Not if you want your character’s change arc to make sense, it isn’t. Last week, we learned […]