Your Story Isn’t Working? Here Are 6 Problems to Troubleshoot

If you’re here because you feel your story isn’t working, you’re not alone. Most writers feel that way about most of the stories they write. The good news is you can probably salvage your current story by troubleshooting a few key areas. One way to learn how to accomplish this is to learn what didn’t work […]

9 Negative Character Arcs in the Enneagram

The Enneagram personality theory is a wonderful tool for writers. Beneath the surface of the system’s nine types, you can find development guides that include all the working parts of solid transformational character arcs. Last week, we discussed the positive character arcs in the Enneagram. Today, we’re going to look at the flipside: nine negative […]

9 Positive Character Arcs in the Enneagram

Character arcs aren’t just the stuff of good fiction. They’re also the essence of all personal growth and transformation. Little wonder, then, that some of the best shortcuts writers can find for identifying the most powerful character-arc options are those found in personal development tools such as the Enneagram. These days, most of us are […]

7 Tips for How to Add Complexity to Your Story

So you want to add complexity to your story. Most authors do. Complexity just sounds so… sophisticated. It sounds like one of those novels or films that are taken apart and analyzed by really smart critics and professors. It sounds like taking your story to the next level. And in some ways, it is. Complex […]

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 […]

Deepening Your Story’s Theme With the Thematic Square

How can you deepen your story’s theme? This is a question most writers find themselves asking at one point or another. And there are many answers. As an inherently abstract concept, theme can be approached from many different directions—and still feel hard to get at. But as one of the most important factors in creating […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 20: The Flat Archetype of the Elder

Within a Positive-Change Arc, an Impact Character is the character (or characters) who represents the thematic Truth and its potential to “impact” and change the protagonist. However, within a Flat Arc, the protagonist is the Impact Character. As we delve deeper into the Flat archetypes of the life cycle’s Third Act, we begin to see […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 15: Introduction to the 6 Flat Archetypes

In studying character arcs, writers easily recognize Positive-Change Arcs and Negative-Change Arcs. But somewhat more baffling can be the stories that appear to feature neither. These are stories in which the protagonist does not change or seems to have no character arc at all. How do these stories fit into the discussion of archetypal character […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 14: The Mage’s Shadow Archetypes

Structurally speaking, it is always the end of a story—its Climactic Moment—that tells us what it is about. The Climactic Moment ends the external plot by telling us who “wins.” But it also, implicitly, ends the protagonist’s arc by showing us whether the character succeeded in arcing positively and helping others to do the same, […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 13: The Crone’s Shadow Archetypes

The final two archetypal character arcs within the life cycle signal a distinct departure from the realm of the known. After sacrificing herself for the Kingdom at the end of the King Arc, the seemingly diminished Crone, leaves behind the “real” world of Kingdom and throne and enters instead the spooky forests and liminal hinterlands […]