Dos and Donts of Storytelling According to Marvel Series Header

The Do’s and Don’ts of Storytelling According to Marvel

Dos and Donts of Storytelling According to Marvel Series PinterestWhy are the Marvel movies so popular? What is it about a bunch of very strange people running around in circus colors and high-tech armor that has resonated so deeply with audiences in recent years? And what can these stories teach you about being a better writer? Turns out, lots!

As a big Marvel fan myself, I appreciate the scope of their storytelling vision. Even better, I’ve gleaned all kinds of interesting writing insights—which I highlight, movie by movie, in this series of blog posts.

The Marvel movies aren’t a perfect series of films, by any means, which is why you’ll be able to learn from both the things they aced (like Tony Stark’s characteristic moment) and the things they bombed on (be ye warned: the Age of Ultron post is reeeeaallly long).

The most powerful lessons for any writer are those you gain from reading, watching, and breaking down the do’s and don’ts in other people’s stories. Whether you’re fan of superhero fiction or not, you’re about to learn how to write (and not to write) an excellent story in any genre.

Part 1, Iron ManGrab Readers With a Multi-Faceted Characteristic Moment

Learn how the characteristic moment in Iron Man made sure we’d pay attention to Tony Stark for eight years and counting—and how you can do the same in your own book.

Part 2, The Incredible HulkHow (Not) to Write Satisfying Action Scenes

Turns out the secret to great action scenes isn’t the action. Learn why The Incredible Hulk‘s action failed—and how to make readers adore your conflict.

Part 3, Iron Man 2Use Minor Characters to Flesh Out Your Protagonist

Did you know the most important function of minor characters has nothing to do with them and everything to do with your protagonist? Find out what it is!

Part 4, ThorHow to Transform Your Story With a Moment of Truth

The most important job of your story’s Midpoint—and arguably the most important scene in the entire story—is the Moment of Truth. Learn to put it to use!

Part 5, Captain AmericaHow to Write Subtext in Dialogue

The secret to great dialogue? It’s all about what’s not being said. Learn from these quick tips on how to write subtext in dialogue.

Part 6, The Avengers4 Places to Find Your Best Story Conflict

Story conflict is about much more than the battle between protagonist and antagonist. Learn to create rich and deep conflict between all your characters.

Part 7, Iron Man 3Don’t Make This Mistake With Your Story Structure

Readers may be willing to overlook certain missteps in your story structure. But not this one. Discover the worst story structure mistake you can possibly make.

Part 8, Thor: The Dark WorldHow to Get the Most Out of Your Sequel Scenes

Want to add a meaningful exploration of character to any story? The secret lies in creating deep and rich sequel scenes—the reaction half of the scene.

Part 9, Captain America: The Winter SoldierIs This the Single Best Way to Write Powerful Themes?

If you can write powerful themes, you can turn the smallest, silliest, most escapist of stories (like, say, a superhero comic) into something great.

Part 10, Guardians of the GalaxyThe #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory

The reason you love backstory is because it’s the discovery of character. Turns out, that’s why readers love it too—but only if you use these three must-haves.

Part 11, The Avengers: Age of UltronThe Right Way and the Wrong Way to Foreshadow a Story

Sloppy or forced foreshadowing leaves readers feeling confused and manipulated. Here are four things to avoid in figuring out how to foreshadow a story.

Part 12, Ant-ManHow to Choose the Right Antagonist for Your Story

Want to learn how to choose the right antagonist for your story? All you have to do is double-check him against this four-part checklist.

Part 13, Captain America: Civil WarHow to Be a Gutsy Writer: Stay True to Your Characters

Sometimes your greatest act of courage is being honest, especially in staying true to your characters. Check yourself with these four questions.

Part 14, Doctor Strange3 Ways to Test Your Story’s Emotional Stakes

Make sure your story passes these three important tests for acing its emotional stakes, and you’ll never have any problem getting readers to suspend disbelief.

Part 15, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2: How to Ace the First Act in Your Sequel

Here are three ways to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the groundwork you’ve already laid when writing the First Act in your sequel.

Part 16, Spider-Man: Homecoming: 4 Ways to Write a Thought-Provoking Mentor Character

Here are four ways you can amp up your story with a great mentor character without falling into all the usual stereotypes.

Part 17, Thor: Ragnarok: How to Write Funny

Don’t be afraid of learning how to write funny. It is a teachable technique arising from the strong foundation of well-realized characters and story beats.

Part 18, Black Panther: How the Truth Your Character Believes Defines Your Theme

Your protagonist’s ultimate relationship to the thematic Truth—and the specific Lie that keeps interfering—will define the entire nature of your story. Here are the four most important principles about the Truth Your Character Believes, all of which are on display in Marvel’s Black Panther.

Part 19, Avengers: Infinity War4 Ways to Write a Better Antagonist

Figuring out how to write a better antagonist is foundational to your story’s balance of plot, theme, and conflict. Find out what Marvel’s Infinity War can teach you about this.

Part 20, Ant-Man and the Wasp: 4 Ways to Choose a Better Theme for Your Book

Check out these four important questions you can ask about your characters to help you choose a better theme for your book.

Part 21, Captain Marvel4 Pacing Tricks to Keep Readers’ Attention

Check out four surprisingly marvelous pacing tricks you can use to grab your audience’s attention and keep them riveted throughout your story.

Part 22, The Avengers: Endgame5 Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Loyalty

Five examples of how the Marvel Cinematic Universe earned its fanbase’s appreciation and what you can learn about how to earn your audience’s loyalty.

This series is now complete.

More Marvel Posts:


Captain America: The First Avenger

Thor: The Dark World

Captain America: Winter Soldier

The Avengers: Age of Ultron


Captain America: Civil War

Thor: Ragnarok

Marvel Story Structure Database Entries