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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 […]

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How to Find Your Thematic Principle

There are words I think of as “infinite words.” These are words that express more, in their essence, than we can ever quite seem to explain. They’re the words of poetry. Indeed, many are complete poems all in a single word. For me, one of those words is “theme.” Theme is one of those endlessly […]

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Plot, Character, and Theme: The Greatest Love Triangle in Fiction

Once upon a time, Character fell in love with Plot. Right from the start, it was a stormy relationship. There was passion, there was romance, there were epic stakes. And conflict? Puh-lenty. Sometimes they were pretty sure they couldn’t live with each other a moment longer. Sometimes they tried to give each other up altogether. […]

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How to Write Emotion: An Experimental Study

Not too many years ago, I thought an accurately portrayed scene naturally caused readers to experience the emotions that the characters would logically feel in such situations. Not true! As Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi explain in The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, we must take our innate skills of observation and […]

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10 Advantages of Writing a Single-POV Story (What I Learned Writing Wayfarer)

Multiple-POV story versus single-POV story? Which is the right choice for you? The answer depends on many factors, since every story is different. Knowing which approach to POV to choose isn’t difficult once you know how to choose. My just-released historical-superhero/gaslamp-fantasy novel Wayfarer was the first ever single-POV story I’ve written. For years now, I’ve consistently been minimizing the […]

writing large casts of characters

The 10 Rules of Writing Large Casts of Characters

Large casts of characters are the thing these days. Rowling, Martin, and Marvel—just to name a few newsworthy examples—victoriously (and sometimes not-so-victoriously) throw casts of hundreds at screen and paper. Understandably, writers rush to emulate—both because, on a head level, this seems like the obvious path to success, and because, on a heart level, we […]

5 lessons from a lost novel

5 Lessons From a Lost Novel

Mistakes are unavoidable. To fear them is to fear life itself. To try to eliminate them is to waste life in a futile struggle against reality. I daresay no one has more opportunities to learn these truths than does a writer. As writers, our lives are a never-ending litany of mistakes. Certainly mine has been […]

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4 Ways to Choose a Better Theme for Your Book

Part 20 of The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel Writers often have a complicated relationship with theme. We love it. It loves us back. But reaching a harmonious happily-ever-after with theme sometimes turns into as much of a soap opera as a long-running CW drama. Just writing a story that has a theme is […]

How to Write Unique Themes

How to Write Unique Themes

Here’s a mind-bender for you: the best story themes are both universal and unique. But how does that even work? How can you learn to write unique themes that say something fresh and new—and yet are resonant to every person on the planet? Good question. This is something I’ve been mulling lately after a comment […]

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 […]