character's inner conflict

Creating Your Character’s Inner Conflict: Want vs. Need

Man vs. Self—it’s the most archetypal of all stories. This is because all stories are ultimately rooted in the primal and personal struggle of a character’s inner conflict. As individuals, our conflicts with others or the world itself are almost inevitably either reflections or projections of our inner conflicts—our cognitive dissonances, our conflicting wants and […]

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6 Requirements for Writing Better Character Goals

Quick. Tell me what your characters want. Maybe you have an immediate answer. Maybe your protagonist wants to save the world, survive, or live happily ever after. While those are all legit goals that have powered hundreds of good stories, what I’m talking about is what your characters want. I’m talking about the one thing your […]

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5 Ways to Use Theme to Create Character Arc (and Vice Versa)

What’s the easiest way to find your story’s theme—and make it stick? Although any discussion of theme is multi-faceted, one of the best ways to approach this complex topic is through the realization that you can use theme to create character arc—and vice versa. When asked to explain what a particular story is about, some […]

Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters2

5 Ways to Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters

The Enneagram. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve even used the Enneagram to write better characters. Like Myers-Briggs, Socionics, and the Four Temperaments, the Enneagram is one of many systems within the study of personality theory. These systems are designed to identify the patterns found in the different ways we approach various aspects of […]

Use Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

How to Intertwine Plot, Character, and Theme in Every Scene

If plot, character, and theme are the foundational underpinnings of story itself, then they must be present in every scene as well, right? But that gets tricky. How can you make sure these elements are doing their job in every scene? And if they’re not present in every scene, does that necessarily mean the scene is […]

5 Damaging Beliefs Writers Should Overcome

5 Lies Writers Believe That Are Holding Them Back

There are many lies writers believe that hold them back. When you think about it, this is kind of ironic. After all, aren’t stories stories lies that serve to tell the truth? I think the reason most writers get a perverse chuckle out of that last idea is because, as humans, we are hard-wired to […]

The Nanowrimo Guide to Outlining (How to Find the Heart of Your Story)

3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story (How to Outline for NaNoWriMo, Pt. 3)

Most of the time when you start figuring out how to outline a story, you know one of two things about that story. Either you know the skeleton of your story (its premise or plot), or you know the heart of your story. But it’s not enough to have just one. You gotta have both. On its surface, […]

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It's Always Their Fault

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault

It’s a morbid joke among writers: we are so mean to our characters. And we love it. It’s the stuff of good stories. It’s the stuff of epic conflict. And yet, all this very important imaginative cruelty can sometimes trip us up on our way to writing dynamic characters who can, in turn, deal with this epic […]

5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters

5 Secrets of Complex Supporting Characters

Supporting characters don’t get nearly enough love. We come up with amazing protagonists who do amazing things and we labor to give them solid and complicated character arcs. But after all that work on the story’s forerunner, what happens to the supporting characters? Too often, they’re an afterthought. Of course, your protagonist needs a dad […]

How to Harness the Dark Side of Your Impact Character

If you’re wanting to write an awesome character arc for your protagonist, the “impact character” is going to be a central catalyst in making that happen. The impact character isn’t someone you hear discussed often (the term originates with the Dramatica storyform). However, this supporting character can single-handedly make or break your protagonist’s change arc. Usually, the […]