Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 9: The Maiden’s Shadow Archetypes

In so many ways, we view life as a story. Within the lifelong journey of this story, the first challenge is that of becoming an autonomous individual—an independent and responsible adult. However obvious that may be, the journey itself cannot be taken for granted. Indeed, although we may all grow up chronologically, the struggle to […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 8: Introduction to the 12 Shadow Archetypes

Where there is light, there is shadow. Where there is a right way to do things, there are usually several ways to do it wrong. So it goes with archetypal character arcs and their potential shadow archetypes—of which there are two for every positive archetype. Over the last few months, we have explored six successive […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 7: The Mage Arc

The final two archetypal character arcs in the life cycle deal primarily with questions of Mortality—and thus inevitably with the ultimate questions about the meaning of life. Throughout this series, we’ve viewed the six “life arcs” as part of a unified story structure, or Three Acts. The First Act—featuring the Maiden and the Hero—focused on […]

Archetypal Character Arcs, Pt. 6: The Crone Arc

Within the saga of the six archetypal character arcs representing the cycle of human life, the two “elder” arcs that comprise the Third Act of life are perhaps the least dramatized. These arcs are those of the Crone and the Mage. In studying these arcs, it becomes evident that the Third Act of story structure […]

An Introduction to Archetypal Stories

All art is necessarily both reflective and generative of the human experience. And in that way, all art both reflects and generates archetype. Some stories do this more simply and obviously than others. Those stories that we recognize as myth or fable are most blatantly archetypal. But even hyper-realistic stories—when they are well done—offer up […]

The Midpoint as the Swivel Point of Your Story’s Linked Structure

The “saggy middle” of a story is one of the biggest challenges writers face. The Second Act is twice as long as the other two acts and yet is often less clearly defined. What’s a writer to do to keep the pacing just as tight and the events just as interesting over the long haul […]

Book Launch Day: Writing Your Story’s Theme!

Today I am officially launching my latest writing-craft book Writing Your Story’s Theme. Yay! This book has been such a passion project for me. When I started thinking about what writing-craft book I wanted to publish next, I realized my cornerstone writing guides have so far built on each other in a linear way, moving from […]

The Link Between Your Story’s Pinch Points

Of all the paired structural beats in a story, the Pinch Points are perhaps the most obvious. There are only two of them, they have the same name, and they perform essentially the same function in both their first and second iteration. They’re also perhaps the least known and most confusing of all the major […]

The Link Between Your Story’s First Plot Point and Third Plot Point

I often talk about cohesion and resonance as being two of the most important qualities of great stories. Many factors are involved in achieving these effects, but one of the subtlest and yet most powerful is found within the structure of story itself. This is the hidden “circle” of story structure, in which all the important […]

The Power of Hopeful Stories in a Stressful Time

What is your story putting into the world? I mean that question literally. Every story takes up space in the world—and not just on a bookshelf. Every story you read or watch becomes a part of you. It changes you. Your brain physically changes to make space not just for the memories of this story, […]