Checklist for Beginning Your Story: Introducing Your Characters

Hello, everyone, and welcome! Today, we’re going to be talking about beginnings and specifically about how to introduce your characters in the beginning of your story, how to hook readers with your character, and how to set up all the important parts of your character’s development and arc that will happen in the rest of […]

How to Use Antagonists in Your Story: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

How to use antagonists in your story is a critical skill that can either elevate or undermine your entire story. In many ways, antagonists are the true architects of unforgettable plots, and as you navigate the path between narrative brilliance and potential pitfalls, the art of utilizing your story’s antagonists becomes crucial to success. When […]

Violence in Fiction: 6 Archetypes

From KMW: The dictionary tells us the definition of violence is: “Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” By that definition, we can recognize that violence in fiction is a staple. Almost every story features some example, even if it’s “just” verbal aggression. Certain genres, such as mysteries and […]

“There and Back Again”: The Lord of the Rings and the Power of Despair in Fiction

Someone asked me recently what I thought made an original story. One piece of my answer was that I don’t believe audiences so much seek original¬†premises as original¬†emotional experiences. We want to experience stories that evoke emotion and create catharsis. We don’t just want a comedy that makes the corner of our mouths crinkle; we […]

What Does Your Character Want? Desire vs. Plot Goal vs. Moral Intention vs. Need

We often hear “conflict is story.” What does that mean? If we walk it back, we see that conflict is driven by opposition. That opposition stands between the characters and something they want. Therefore, we could just as easily say “desire is story.” But that isn’t always simple to figure out either, particularly since story […]

5 Ways to Use Your Character’s Shadows to Power Your Story

Complex characters mirror real-life humans in their contradictions of inner light and dark. As writers, it is our job to create these contrasts in ways that become cohesive and thematically meaningful. One of the simplest—and most effective—ways to do this is to explore shadow theory. In last week’s post, we talked about the concept of […]

Here Are Two Ways to Write Organic Themes

Organic themes are symbiotic with their stories’ plots. This is because when everything is working well in a story, plot and theme are two halves of a whole, each one “proving” the other. When plot and theme are not working together, that’s a sure sign your story is in trouble. Theme can be a tricky […]

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 […]