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 […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 12: The King’s Shadow Archetypes

Throughout the progression of the six archetypal character arcs that make up the human life cycle, we see a steady progression of the character’s power. As we explored in the positive King Arc, this final mid-life arc represents the height of temporal power. The King is someone who wields a vast amount of influence not […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 11: The Queen’s Shadow Archetypes

A character who makes it through the Hero Arc is a character who has graduated into a brave new world—the Second Act of the life cycle of archetypal character arcs. This section of life, which deals with questions of relationship and power, begins with the first of the “mature” arcs—that of the Queen. But like […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 10: The Hero’s Shadow Archetypes

Here in the 21st Century, we often have a confused relationship with the Hero archetype. On the one hand, he is everywhere and we love him and resonate with him. On the other hand, his sheer omnipresence has inevitably highlighted his negative counter-archetypes in almost equal force. This is because wherever we find a would-be […]