what do you want me to write about

What Do You Want Me to Write About?

tell me what you want me to write pinterestHey, everybody!

I’m making myself a bit sparse this week as I’m in the middle of moving. But I want to take the opportunity to flip things on its head this week and ask you to tell me something.

What would you like me to write about?

Is there a writing subject that’s really got your interest right now?

How about a gnawing question you just can’t figure out?

In short, as I start gearing up for a new round of posts and podcast episodes, I’d like to make sure I’m serving your needs as best I can.

Leave me a comment and tell me what post you’d most like me to write for you.

And thanks!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What writing topic or question would you like me to talk about in future posts? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. Oooh! *puts on thinking cap*

    One thing I’ve been seriously studying lately is reader engagement. Aka, the psychology of the way a story interacts with the reader’s mind on all levels.
    That might be too big of a topic to tackle all at once though. XD

    The importance of writing from the heart, instead of writing the whole story by trying to get fancy with theoretical threads and thematic twists to show off your knowledge and ending up conceited and unreachable.

    The balance between complexity and simplicity— the proper time and place for each of those, and the way they interact.

    How to deeply, accurately, and engagingly portray the inside of a character’s mind, honing their voices by details, silences, internal pressure-points, internal lies, and core yearnings.

    How to get the story moving on page one, and instead of just meandering on towards the end ratchet the tension up with every succeeding chapter.

    Mental tricks to getting new perspectives on your own work and deciding what needs to be cut, and why.

    • Wow, I can’t think of anything to add after reading Kate’s great list!

      But I do want to say to Katie/K.M.: Please be gentle with yourself, moving is a HUGE stressor. My husband and I moved six months ago and we are still not over it! Although, in our case, now that we are both officially “senior citizens,” our resiliency isn’t quite what it used to be.

      Ooh. Just seeing the M word sends shivers down my spine. And we still haven’t unpacked everything…

    • I have two topic ideas. 1. Is how to integrate sub-plots into the main story so that your manuscript doesn’t read too linear without taking too much away from the main story. 2. How to integrate plot twists and surprises. How do you go about tricking the reader early on (only to surprise them later) without coming off as lying or overtly misleading them making them feel “tricked”. How do you “properly” mislead the reader?

    • Katie Hallahan says

      A big +1 to thoughts on reader engagement!

    • I second on “The importance of writing from the heart, instead of writing the whole story by trying to get fancy with theoretical threads and thematic twists to show off your knowledge and ending up conceited and unreachable.”

    • I love this concept and was thinking something similar. I find myself writing about an emotional event that is life-changing for the character but it comes across too raw and can make the reader uncomfortable. Then I edit the section and fear it’s too dry and sounds shallow or fake.
      I’m reading two novels a month to improve my material – what about a study guide covering a movie or book that points out the important events for the characters are?

    • Patricia Curran Love says

      Self publishing is a shorter way to achieve visibility but quality varies to huge amounts. Traditional publishers require agents and contacts (fees). I am an excellent author, aged 79, retired. Deadline is built in; best routes?

      Thanks for considering this question.

  2. How long is too long?

    In any part of the writing process:
    Researching
    Developing theme
    Plotting
    Outlining
    Writing
    Rewriting

    For us perfectionists, how can we know when enough is enough?

    I would suggest closing the article with some sort of green light checklist to help the writer know when these checkboxes are done, the step is done.

  3. thescratchingquill says

    One thing I’ve always struggled with is being too subtle to the point where some readers don’t follow me.

    I’m also interested in vast and complex worldbuilding.
    Genre would be great.

  4. Casandra Merritt says

    Structuring trilogies! I’ve been soaking up as much information as possible on this, but unfortunately, there’s not much to be found. What I’ve found on your site has been most helpful, though. Just trying to find out as much about this as I can.

  5. It would be cool if you did a series on ways to edit your novel! Also, if/when you should ever break plot structure, and more on style.

  6. The different styles of writing across genres; what often is acceptable and standard in fantasy isn’t necessary best for friction and so on.

  7. Richard Jones says

    Good Morning Ms. Weiland,

    I would like to hear more about how to define character flaws to the reader but within the confines of the story structure. I can’t just say, “This person is very greedy,” or “She is very conceited.” Do you have any tips or tricks to demonstrate those qualities so they blend with the plot? And along those same lines, those flaws have to be corrected. So, how do you demonstrate to the reader a change in thinking and personality that shows a changed character and is believable?

    I suppose this all falls under the category of blending character development and story structure. So, anything along those lines would be appreciated.

    I hope your move is going well and you enjoy the new environment.

    Regards,

    Richard

    • Dialogue! The purpose of dialogue is twofold: It conveys what a character wants to say, AND says it in such a way as to reveal character flaws and attributes. You can even use dialogue tags in this way. “To hell with you!” he sneered. “You ain’t got no reason to play high and mighty with me,” she said. Lotsa luck

  8. I know you’ve done a lot of posts on some of these before, but I want to learn more about:
    Foreshadowing
    How to write funny/with humour
    How to write fight scenes
    How to write a heartbreaking moment of Truth
    How to show, not tell
    And how to figure out your main plot goal in your story.

    (I feel like I might have more later on, is that okay?)

    • Yes, this. Writing humor and sarcasm is what I struggle with most. I need really detailed information on this. Because I’m not quick-witted, it’s hard for me to write characters who are.
      Really heartbreaking moments of truth is something I’d like to learn to do a little better as well. I want to pull ugly cry emotions out of my readers, not just little teary scenes. 😉

    • I second all of the above.

  9. I’ve been teaching story structure concepts to 11th grade literature students- who aren’t necessarily writers. I want them to dig into the story the way no one ever had me do when I was in school. I’d love to see how you would convey these concepts to the “lay” people, and if you would ever write a book/curriculum for us literature teachers!! I’d buy it!

  10. Pacing a relationship! The first couple stories I wrote, I never thought about how the main relationship progressed. They were very natural and organic. Then I wrote a story where the characters were supposed to fall in love, but not until a certain point (because fairy-tale true love’s kiss stuff) and gaaah, It went horribly. They fell into insta-love with no proper build up. Since then I’ve been paranoid about my relationships (in writing. Not actual relationships). Character interaction is one of my favorite parts of writing, so I want to make sure anyone reading my stories gets to actually enjoy that aspect.

  11. Showing and not telling. It’s something I’ve struggled with a lot recently. It’s one thing to say to show and not tell, but it’s another to implement it. I’d love some more specific techniques.

  12. I have a couple of thoughts:

    What are the most common ways you’ve seen writers fall short with a story. Especially, what’s the one pattern you see that nobody else has written much about?

    Or, everyone’s hardest challenge: the dreaded First Chapter. You could do a deep dive into those few pages that make or break everything.

    And of course, more like your Marvel Movies observations. You have and share so much fun with those, we’d all love to see what you can find in other leading movies.

  13. Please write about the “inciting event.” You had a unique take in your free ebook 5 Secrets of Story Structure, in that you broke the “inciting event” down into three parts. Please expand upon what you wrote there, based on what you have learned since then.

  14. How about going back and forth between writing and outlining? In was into the second act of my current WIP and realized that what I had planned wasn’t working out very well. So, I decided to go back to my outline and work from the 10,000-foot level. I’m thinking that when I finish my first draft I should compare it to my outline and see if they both still agree. Then I should examine the outline again to make sure it is the best story I could write given the material. I’d love to know how you work in that regard.

  15. How about how to add obstacles to your story, which are worthy. I really don‘t know how to do it. So…. At least stories with Mary Sues suck.

  16. Some things I would really like to learn more about:

    -How to write relationships readers will ship (without it being pushy, and insta-love)

    -How to foreshadow plot twists (but not so much that everyone will see the plot twist coming! Just the clues laid out after)

    -How to give readers all the information without info dumping, but without laying it out so far apart that no one knows what’s going or how anything works till waaaaaaay later

    -How to get in the ‘writing mood’

    -How to keep yourself going when you’re in a part of the writing process you don’t enjoy as much

    -How to write relatable characters

    -How to amp up the tension

    -How to write humor without it ruining the tension you’ve so carfully cultivated

    -Wordbuilding tips (since it’s such an overlooked part of the process)

    -How to describe things without putting the story on “pause” to do so (by making it still being interesting and relevent)

    That’s a lot of requests. 😛 I hope that gives you some ideas! 😃

  17. The failure to separate authors from their characters that some folks cannot refrain from? Joe Writer comes out with a story about a terrible psycho killer/rapist/whatever, and people immediately psychoanalyze the author to see how this surely must be some part of them. I’ve enjoyed some pretty dark-themed books and admired the writers for their stories honestly portraying some evil baddies, only to see reviews babbling about how offended the reader is and the author must surely hold the views of their character[s] themselves. For a few of them, I even checked out interviews with the authors and it was intriguing to read about the research into those types of people their characters were, and even interviews they did with killers/rapists/etc. in prisons and all, obviously it was a massive commitment to write these characters as honestly as possible, only to have so many reviews fail to separate the authors from their characters. This is a sad trend, if my anecdotal evidence has any weight.

  18. Hi,
    I would be interested in your thoughts on parallel paths or developments in the same novel. My favourite example is The Empire Strikes Back where there is the Hans Sol story and the Luke Skywalker one and how these two meet at the end.

    I have recently finished the first draft of a novel which has a multi-parallel plot and wonder whether I’ve go all the elements right. It sort of comes together at the end. There are three-point-five main stories all happening at the same time with different characters and locations and–seemingly–with different plots. Getting all this to integrate is something of a challenge.

    (I confess to a weakness for complex plots because life isn’t simple.)

    Also, the amount of setting you should use. I have just started reading Dreamlander and am struck by the amount of setting in it. This seems to be common in fantasy. My gut instinct is to use a very light brush and really point up the setting using as few elements as possible. So something on that would be a good read.

  19. I would love to see an in depth of analysis of violence in literature (film/screenplays too). For example: when is violence appropriate to use and when is it’s used for plot substitution? Can the threat of violence more powerful than violence itself? Does it need to be shown, really, or is it enough to hint at it to create tension? When does violence engage the reader and when does it blow a person out, numbing them to further unfolding, resulting in the need to continually raise the stakes and scale up the violence consequently?

    And of course, how does the person feel afterward?
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Anne of Green Gables, for example, have no violence, but are both incredibly engaging books. Afterward, I feel a sense of “ahhh”, the books linger in my consciousness and have an overall positive effect.
    Game of Thrones, on the other hand has more of an addictive page turner feeling to it, but afterward I felt yucky and my dreams were awful.

    I know this is value judgement territory, and yet I’d love to see your personal take on the dynamics of violence in literature.

    Thanks,
    Andrey.

  20. How to avoid the sagging middle
    How to make each character stand out
    How to keep your reader engaged from Page One (there are always techniques to learn)

  21. Samuel Roberts says

    Maybe write about Eastern storytelling? That’s something I’ve been interested in lately…I’ve heard their form is very different from ours in the West

  22. I’ve recently been struggling with shifting between two different characters who take turns narrating chapters. Is it possible to have two protagonists and if so how do you juggle them?

  23. Keeping the narrative crisp and rich at the same time.

  24. Jessica Brown says

    The Rewrite Process and how to identify story holes or slow, dull patches in the story and suggestions on how to fix common story problems. Also the outlining process in more detail. So both the beginning (prewrite) and the ending (rewrite).

    Happy move and thanks for asking!

  25. I am struggling with this one. I outline what I want to say in the story. As I write the story, it seems to take a life of it’s own, and I end up trashing the outline for the end as it now makes no sense with how the characters have grown during the course of the story.

  26. More on writing in a series please! Your perspective on cliffhangers, how to write the first books without knowing exactly what will be in the last books, how to structure each individual book while having an overall series structure, etc. I would love to write a long-ish series but thinking about getting started has me feeling so overwhelmed.

  27. I’m frequently being told, “to tighten up my stories.” I write short fiction and have had a half dozen sales. However, some critics say I need to tighten up the text. What does this mean? Cut the work count? Be less wordy, although from other readers, I’m not all that wordy?

    Would you define the term and expalin what it is? Thank you.

  28. Hi!

    I am an English major in college, and this semester I am taking a Creative Writing course. Our main focus is short fiction; we are writing 3 short stories between 8 and 10 pages long. I would love to have more insight about how to round out short stories, particularly stories that feel like they could easily be longer than ten pages.

    Thanks,
    CSR

  29. I’d love to hear more about how to align the character’s personal development/conflicts to the general movement/conflict. Ie how do you connect Frodo’s character and internal conflicts to the more general action of the fellowship and conflict between good and evil.

  30. Good morning! I’ve been a writer for some time and am working on my first book, but I have two burning questions that really stand out to me as ones I cannot seem to get an answer to:

    1. How do I know if my story has a saggy middle or not?

    2. How does one get people to beta-read one’s book? (I’ve tried a couple different ways, but nobody seems interested, or they don’t actually seem to take me seriously about this.)

    And, stemming from the #2 dilemma is #3:

    3. How can I convince people to take me seriously enough about this book that they want to read it?

    Any advice you could offer as a published author would be much appreciated- I can’t tell if I’m being hyper-critical of myself or if my story really is lagging and isn’t generating any interest.

    Thank you so much!

    -Amanda from Tiny Colossus Creations

  31. Hi Weiland!
    I’d love to hear your advice about the fine line between editing and over editing. I’m currently in the phase of the dreaded 2nd draft…and I’m worried I’m over editing. I would love any tips you have! Thanks,

  32. Kim Dickinson says

    Magical Realism.!! Try as I might I cannot figure this genre out – What is it exactly ?!?!- besides a magical/supernatural/fairytale/fable element that somehow pops into the story, apparently without rhyme or reason .
    And I have googled it , I even watched ‘Love in the age of Cholera ‘ which I enjoyed but don’t ask my why .
    I hate it when I don’t understand why something works or doesn’t -this genre has got me by the short and curly’s and is messing with my head.
    Help!

  33. I’d love it if you would write about having *believable* disabled characters, and I’m not meaning an acquired disability. I’m meaning someone like me who has lived very happily with a life-long disability – in my case Cerebral Palsy – but who’s exasperated, to put it gently, about the portrayal of disability.

    it’s rare indeed to find a character in fiction from the last 100 years who isn’t a 2D token entity with no personality. In fact, as I discovered when commissioning and contributing to Unseen Childhoods: Disabled Characters in 20th Century Books for Girls (more info at http://www.ju90.co.uk/topsy.htm) the further back towards the 1920s one goes the better the portrayals are!

  34. Maybe something about romance structure, the differences when the love is part of the main plot.
    I’d also like to know if you have any upcoming books on the craft.
    Good luck with moving and happy writing!

  35. What to do when you have worked on and off on a story for a LONG time and it’s not the story you started out with. The part that intrigued me initially has mostly fallen by the wayside. Some of the characters that started all this seem to hang out and never quite step up to their roles in the story.Others are clamoring for time and words. Sometimes I wonder if I took too long for the original story. I feel like I took home a kitten that’s grown into a cougar.

  36. Squid Scribe says

    I’ve been studying craft for years. I’m a hard-working, passionate writer with an original, compelling story. Now that I have a nearly finalized manuscript, I’m facing the next steps – getting it sold. I’m writing in a niche market – dark sci-fi romance. I’ve never been more discouraged in my life. This industry is not a meritocracy. The best writing is not the best-selling writing, whether traditional or self-published. It looks as though professional success hinges on spending an inordinate amount of time doing things that have nothing to do with writing fiction. For me, publication is a means to an end. The only reason I want to sustain an income is to have more time to write more fiction, but if I have to rush through my work and produce things of sub-par quality just to keep a market hooked, and spend half my time maintaining a blog, I’m not sure the dream is even possible. Surely every serious writer has struggled with this question at one time or another. How did you rise to this challenge? How do you push back the internal resistance that says, “Even if this were possible for you, it wouldn’t be worth it.” ?

    • Squid Scribe says

      Sorry, that was more negative than I meant it to be. I’m just not a marketing genius. I’m not a social guru. I’m a person who loves to write more than anything else in the world. I don’t want my deficiencies in one area to stand in the way of success at the thing I care about most. I know and trust that I can write a novel. I do not know and trust that I have the skill to market one.

  37. Tom Campbell says

    Hi. Great blog. Thank-you.

    I’m currently writing a crime novel. I see the potential… if not necessity… for multiple and contradictory arcs, truths, lies, wants and needs in human characters.

    Do you ever deal with this in the planning stage or do you let secondary arcs etc simply emerge as you write?

    Hope the new place is everything you hope it to be.

    Cheers,

    Tom.

  38. For me it’s writing fight scenes. Coming up with something realistic – I’m still in the outlining stage, but I’m struggling with how to plan the climax fight (think Fantasy with big boss and lots of magic). I think the MC is supposed to be the one who finally manages to finish the ‘problem’ of the opponent, but does it have to be that way or can someone else come in as a surprise? It’s questions like that I’m struggling through at the moment. Hope the move is going well 🙂

  39. Kelly Barbazette says

    Thanks for opening your blog up to questions! I’ve been working on my novel for the past year. Your blog has been immensely helpful to me, particularly while outlining my book and creating the story arc. I just finished writing the climax and am at the 75 percent point. But now I’m stuck. Can you offer any advice about how to write the resolution. What makes an effective resolution? How can I go about tying up all the loose ends and giving readers a satisfying ending?

  40. I’d love to know how you brainstorm…and I’ve been wanting to learn a little bit more about pacing a story 🙂

  41. Jesus Meneses says

    Hi There!

    Some ideas:

    -How to build a team of characters. For example, how do you think a writer can build a team like The Avengers (like in your Marvel Do´s and Don´t series) o better yet: Ocean´s Eleven, Ethan Hunt´s Team or Kelsier´s crew from the Mistborn series.

    -Plot Twists: How NOT to give away the game with too much clues or foreshadowing.

    -How to combine 2 timelines within the same story structure (like Nolan´s Batman Begins)

    -How to develop conflict in a story when the antagonist is not totally aware of the main character intentions (Andy Garcia´s Benedict in Ocean´s Eleven was not totally aware of the incoming heist by Danny)

    Thanks!

  42. I love learning anything about what’s happening *inside* the character! The character arch makes the story, giving relevance to the plot events. Always up for more posts of how to go deeper and make things really hit home!

  43. Relationships have become my biggest issue, so I would have to say ‘everything relationship.’ Also the planning of short stories seems to be a bit of a minefield. They’re fun to write, but the structure seems to erhmm… get away from sometimes.

    Good luck with your move,

  44. Thank you for taking our suggestions.
    I would like to break the “pantsing” habit. I know how to outline nonfiction, but I’m at a loss when it comes to plotting fiction. I’ve always just let my character lead the way, but that only works for short stories. Anything longer and the energy and insight fizzle.

  45. I’m writing a memoir from when I was eleven through thirteen years old living overseas. I wonder if you have any suggestions for how to best express my feelings and emotions about events I experienced as opposed to sounding like I’m writing a travel guide book. Thanks.

  46. Katie Hallahan says

    Recognizing when you need to go back to the drawing board. I’ve more than once been partway through and thought, No, this is all wrong, I need to change everything about my premise! But sometimes it’s just self-doubt nagging at me, sometimes it’s the grass is greener, sometimes it’s getting stuck on one part because I don’t know what to do next, and sometimes it really is that pieces of my premise or plot need to be significantly changed in order to improve the story. I’d love any tips, insight, advice on how to know when you really should go back vs. other myriad reasons.

  47. How to make a character emotionally present in a scene please.

  48. Revision! I found your outlining book so helpful and also your generosity in sharing your brainstorming process when you wrote Storming. It gave me such a sense of peace knowing that–wow–I can imagine anything–and change anything. So much so, that I got through fully fledged first draft and have started outlining a second book. But I still have to revise the first one and I need all the help I can get. I’d really love to see sections of a manuscript that show the before and after–not that you need to expose yourself in that way–but a nuts and bolts look at how a passage or a chapter changed due to revisions would be super interesting.

    • I second this! I’m attempting NaNoWriMo and a ninety-day-novel challenge this year, and I’m expecting that between them I’ll emerge with at least one novel draft; however, revising a work of that length is daunting. I’d love to hear any tips on revision.

    • I love the idea of a “peek under the hood” with some before + after examples. It would be so instructive!

  49. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how to create story setting. What to include to make it read-worthy and complementing to the story… ?
    Best regards, Ulgro, Denmark

  50. Richard Wright says

    How does a new author go about publicizing their book. Important subject. I’ve used many of your writing tips and now I’ve finished two books. How donget them read without spending a fortune?

  51. Sarah Joyce Bryant says

    As a beginning novelist, I am completely overwhelmed with all the information available about novel writing…outline, structure, plot, character development and arcs…and I have no idea where to begin, or what order of development would be most beneficial. I would be incredibly grateful if you could talk about where an aspiring novelist should begin when all they have is an idea. Is there a specific order that works best to help them build a foundation that turns that idea into a novel? Should they start with an outline, then move to structure, then to character development? I’ve been trying to take the idea I have and just write (have been “trying” for several years), but I get stuck at a certain point, and then just give up. I believe in the idea, but have no idea how to develop that idea into a novel. Thank you <3

  52. What should I be careful about when writing a memoir? I don’t want to step on the wrong toes or portray a bad impression of myself.

  53. Hi KM,

    I would love your take on how to plan an entire series, when you’ve written a book that you know requires MORE books.

    The key supporting pillars, the essential bare bones, overall series arc shapes, etc. This is where I’m at right now!

    Thank you,

    Rachel

  54. I would have loved some posts about editing.

    I have began researching editing now because that is one aspect of writing I feel like I have semi mastered yet.

  55. I’d love more input on the part of work before one is ready to publish. I feel inundated, bombarded, under constant fire, to brand, brand, brand. Sell my name, establish my identity, get out there so readers will know where to find me once I finish writing that novel — and it inevitably involves buying someone’s book, master class or webinar. I think what I need most of all right now is confirmation that a writer’s life does not revolve around social media.

  56. How do you know where to start your story? How do you you’ve got the “right moment?” This comes from knowing I have a very clear list of big moments and plots points, and a clear ending. I’m unsure about how you know where to begin.

  57. Kevin Chilvers says

    Hi, One thing that i don’t understand is how to set up and run an e-mail list

  58. Pete Warwick says

    Are there any rules that govern the use of Prologues and Epilogues? One well known author thinks it is a major crime to write a prologue which connects with an occurrence a third of the way through a novel. Is an Epilogue just a lazy way to wrap up a novel? Would like to hear your views. love your blog.

  59. Hello Ms. Weiland,
    I’m curious about genre conventions. Is there a book or online resource that can help me get a solid grasp of these? I struggle with them, obviously

  60. Becky Avella says

    I would love to hear your thoughts on writing brand new relationships. I tend to write characters who already know each other and have history together so the relationship feels rich. I struggle with friendships and romance where the characters have just met in the story. How do you show a developing friendship or romance and earn its believability without bogging the story down? How do you quickly develop a bond between strangers? I hope that makes sense…

    I’d also love any insight you might have on planning, outlining, and managing continuity for an entire series not just a stand alone novel.

    Thank you! I’m so grateful to you for your generosity to writers. I hope your move goes well and you love your new space. <3

    • I second the series request, because those have to be planned from the get-go, IMHO. I’m pondering doing a series, and while I might structure them as a sequence of trilogies, I love the kind that A) gives the character an arc that plays out over the course of the series, and B) have an overall story that’s being told.

      So I think it would be great to address what kind of character/story/setting lends itself to a series.

  61. Royden (Roy) Crookshanks says

    First, you have a great site! I actually have two questions. First, any help on coordinating the main characters’ arcs and the main story arc would be appreciated. I am looking for an approach here. Second, when you have finished your first draft, in the second draft you ascertain that the middle of the story (about 5 chapters) needs a rewrite to tie the whole story (about 40 chapters) together, again, how would you approach it? Thanks.

  62. Dialogue Tags:
    I’m writing scenes with a lot of dialogue. Many of my conversations are groups of three or four people. I have read everything I can find on dialogue tags. My process for writing goes like this:

    1. Build the conversation to carry the message (actors reading on an empty stage)
    2. Add dialogue tags to identify speaker and emotion
    3. Add background to give speakers something to do
    4. Intersperse narrative to break up the conversation

    When I’m finished, I read it out loud. I’m usually NOT happy. Why? The message I want to communicate is buried in so much crap I can’t find it. What I really want to do (but don’t) is trash it all and go back to ‘actors on an empty stage’:

    Sam: Blah,blah, blah
    Tom: Blah,blah, blah
    Mary: Blah,blah, blah
    Bill: Blah,blah, blah
    Narrative to break things up
    Sam: Blah,blah, blah
    Tom: Blah,blah, blah
    Mary: Blah,blah, blah
    Bill: Blah,blah, blah
    Narrative to break things up
    Sam: Blah,blah, blah
    Tom: Blah,blah, blah
    Mary: Blah,blah, blah
    Bill: Blah,blah, blah

    I’m doing that for short sections of conversation where ‘no dialogue tags’ would be appropriate if it were only two people. I like what I see, but am I being too unconventional? Your thoughts?

  63. Hi, Thanks for this chance to float a question. My apology as well if you have already addressed this somewhere. I’m in the plotting stage of a teenage YA coming of age /quest (through time) with a major female protagonist and second strong male lead, and possible future love connect at the end, and am challenged how to plot/interweave their respective journeys without losing focus on the protagonist. What “tools” might be also helpful to manage all the interweavings. The research has also become overwhelming, Big thanks for any guidance here!

  64. Becky Avella says

    Oops…one more. I’d also love tips on writing mystery. Especially tips for using red herrings and misdirection, and how to plant clues so the end is inevitable but still surprising. Thanks! 😊

  65. Chris Mentzer says

    How about when you have too many ideas and can’t make up your mind about what project you want to write next. For NaNo this year, I’ve changed my mind three times in regards to what I want to write. Is there a way to make this simpler?

  66. I would like to hear your thoughts on project management. Do you keep the notebooks you outline in or throw them away once the information in them is digitized? Do you digitize your outlines or not? How do you handle revisions: paper copy of manuscript, digital copy, both? Do you keep all the notes from each revision (assuming there’s more than one)? Once a book is published, do you keep all the material you generated during the creation process or throw it away?

  67. Sherry Wheeler says

    I’d like for you to write about POV. I have a novel in mind but I don’t know who the narrator should be. One option would be the detective telling her story about how she helps a man recuperate his inheritance. Should I tell the story from her point of view and then also from his, switching narrators during the story? Or should I stick to only one narrator and if so, who should that be? This question is keeping me from actually writing the novel, which I have planned out extensively. Thanks in advance!

  68. How to smoothly write a time skip. I want to have one in my novel, but i don’t know at which point to transition to, especially because there’s character relationships I have to build and I don’t want them to be at Point A in one chapter and then suddenly, they’re at Point B in the next.

    (Maybe I should go back to this story being two books…)

  69. Then again, I could always split the book into two parts and mention the years passing and some of the events in those years, like what Eugenia Price did with her Savannah books.

    • Aw man, my first comment didn’t make it? My request was for smoothly writing a time skip, because I’m planning on one in my novel, but I don’t know at which point to put it, because there’s character relationships I have to build. And I don’t want them to be at Point A in one chapter and then suddenly be at Point B in the next.

  70. I’d absolutely love to hear about your methods for brainstorming. And pacing is a subject I want to learn more about…and any encouragement you can give to a young writer who’s juggling learning about the craft, outlining a novel, and doubting every step of the way…would be fantastic! 😄

  71. With Create Space closing their hard copy formatting services and Kindle eBook formatting glitches, where can writers find Indie publishers that don’t cost a bundle? BookBaby is overpriced as well as most other Indie publishers? They won’t allow writers to order the formatting and printing services only. They want to sell up to $10, 000 in services.

  72. Hi
    Wow!
    What an opportunity!
    I would very much look for advices and learn how to craft Historical Characters of recent history (20th century) to create biopics (about the life of a real person) where not all information is known (guesswork contained in histories and attempted biographies) .
    Are you up to this challenge?
    As we say in the Holyland – happy New Year and well of the fast.

  73. I love all these questions!

    Like Becky, I’d like to hear more about mystery — especially first-person detective, where the great challenge is: you can’t know the antagonist is THE antagonist for the greater length of the book…

    Thanks!

  74. I’d love for you to show how to apply the Voice of Experience. Thanks.

  75. I would like to read any tips on how to write good pacing. Sometimes I think I get it, and other times I don’t.

  76. Oooh, thank you for this opportunity (Firstly sorry for misspelling and other mistakes, I’m not an English native speaker).

    I agree with the others on including humour and character flaws in the story.
    Also I’d really like to learn more about plotting techniques standing between the scaffold (like 7 points plan) and the full scene plan.

  77. How is the best way to build good habits? Is it better to plan regular writing times and schedule it daily?

  78. I would love to know how to juggle a large writing project when big life events coincide—such as your move.

    Thanks!

  79. Can you please explain what is the character values and how to choose them appropriately? Worldview would be nice too,but beyond lawful good and neutral evil statements.

  80. Doug Clarkson says

    In my chapters I find I’m writing about all a characters movements and activities. Is it okay to do that or should you keep it too the point?

  81. Structuring a trilogy. I am writing a MG Adventure trilogy. Basically, two young boys are lost and need to survuve until they find their way home at the end of book 3.
    How do I structure each book individually yet structure across all three books?
    I have read more books on story structure than I can count, including yours (which is excellent), attended numerous webinars, read and studied over 400 MG novels, but am stuck.
    Most trilogies are actually individual stories and at the end of each book, the hero is safely back in his home. The next book in the trilogy starts a new adventure but the hero’s arc has grown.
    In mine, although in a safe place at the end of books 1 &2, they have not reached their goal to be back home with their friends and family.
    Any help is greatly appreciated.

  82. Write now I am in the process of trying to come up with ideas for suspense and the unexpected.How can we as author’s create original twists that surprise our readers.

  83. Wow! Lots of great requests you’re getting here. It all sounds great to me. I’m working on a scifi-fantasy book currently and would love some tips on world building.

    Thanks for all your work!

  84. I know that relationships vary and are as infinite as the number of character that could exist but I think it would be cool to read something on relationship archtypes. In the same way that certain character archetypes or personalities are interesting, I think relationships are even more interesting.

  85. What Do You Want Me to Write About? Nice one K.M.Weiland …

    I don´t know if I´m the only one who after reading your articles, come back to an intuition, a seed, an idea, and don´t know how to continue to develop everything. Should I let this creative phase take control and later revise everything to adapt the content to a “structure”? What happens when even having in mind what you want to tell, doesn`t appear to fit into this flow?

    I find your articles (and books I’ve bought) very detailed and useful WITHIN THEME. Meaning, all the structure, logic, analysis, and so on, IMHO with the rest of all of your work, it belongs to only one dimension of thoughts that a becoming-author may walk into, that is the “material” or “metaphorical” universe. I´m not sure if this will mean anything to your request about new topics, but I strongly believe that at some point the real person behind the keyboard… the writer, the human being, mother, father, aspiring writer, etc … we all feel that when engaging writing, at some point there is “something to tell”. It depends on our history, choices, life, wishes, utopian visions, etc. I think that a good topic for you to cover is this bridge between the real person trying to write and the metaphorical universe. Coping with the techniques and tips, and everything … but at the same time, setting a starting point, what you want to tell, as a person. Technique comes after that, or not, that´s what drives my writing, not a unique method, but tips to find your own method and certainties. Thank you!!!

  86. How do you know if you’re meant to be a writer? What if it really isn’t your calling? What if you’re meant to do something else in life? How do you know if you’re on the right path? These are qustions I wonder about myself, and I think it would be really cool to read a post on this. A post that would give me guidance as I figure out what my calling is.

  87. How about something on subplots–how to make them mirror the plot in effective ways, or how to make them further the plot, or how to make sure it doesn’t take over!

  88. Zelda Zerafa says

    Dialogue 🙂 I often find myself fearing that the dialogue will sound lame when the hero is trying to be loving or when the bad guys are planning mischief. Also, as someone mentioned above, showing not telling.

  89. Sally Singer says

    What moves an agent to respond positively to a query letter?
    What is included in a sizzling premise?

  90. I third the trilogy structure.

  91. A post on the antagonist’s role in each of the plot points in story structure! 🙂

  92. I seem to remember that you had a post about writing realistic child characters a while ago. I’d like to see one about realistic older people who are not mentors. I literally didn’t find a single article on the web about senior characters. It’s as if old people don’t exist in books, which is of course not true.

  93. A post on the antagonist’s role in each of the story structure plot points (maybe even how the antagonist’s effects the protagonist’s character arc in each of the plot points too) 🙂

  94. I recently stumbled over your post about enneagrams, and started reading about it on my own, but I’d love to see you explain more of it (about the different types, wing types, subtypes etc.) and how to use it your writing.
    And how to ‘type’ your characters, sort of working backwards – so instead of using it to create characters, can it be used to analyse characters you’ve already created to see if they’re consistent?
    Is there some sort of questionnaire you can use, questions you can ask the characters to easier type them? Something hands on, more situation specific/concrete than a lot of the guidelines for typing you get in the enneagram-books?

  95. Grace Mowery says

    If you haven’t done a post on editing the rough draft I’d love to see that.

    I’d love a post on story pacing. I find myself “out of breath” when reading over what I’ve written. I just jump from plot point to plot point without settling in and allowing for character development.

    • I have trouble with pacing too. I’ll work on a scene for awhile and it *feels* long to me (probably because it took so long to write!), but when I read it, it goes way too fast. But in other places, it’s the opposite. It’s hard to find a balance.

  96. Kendolyn Fisher says

    I am brand new to writing. I finished my first book a year ago in NaNoWriMo and the second book in ApriI at the Camp. I now find the first edits way too overwhelming. I am editing by chapter, and finding so many story inconsistencies and they need major revising. I see this problem now as not having any outline. I have considered going back and outlining them. Do you think that would be beneficial?

    Any help with a beginning to end writing checklist would be helpful. Also, for new authors, I have found so much information on writing, arcs, setting, plot; the list is endless! I feel like reading these articles is so important for better stories and characters, and I could spend as much time reading and trying to incorporate what I learn that it seems there is not enough time to both write and read. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  97. I’d really welcome some advice on how to overcome the feeling of overwhelm after receiving feedback from an editor. I’ve had two MS assessments on different novels and was unable to touch the first one because I simply didn’t know where to start to fix all the plot holes and implausibility of characters.

    For the second, I have had really good feedback about my writing style and the things to fix are mostly plot related. But I am unsure where to start (I mainly need to telescope the early scenes so I get the key messages out of the way more quickly before the inciting incident – I have a good sense of how to address the remaining issues).

    I’m particularly struggling with how to get the high-level view of he novel and the changes it needs. I have no problem amending the prose, it’s the structural aspects I find hard to address.
    Thanks so much,
    Julie

  98. Ken mentioned pitfalls, and there are two in particular I’d love to see addressed because I’ve seen them crop up often enough:

    1) When character’s actions aren’t congruent with their stated goals. And I don’t mean in the sense that the character is lying to herself. Rather, if a character’s friend has been kidnapped by a man-eating monster, and she wants to rescue the friend, she should be joining forces with a monster hunter. Not, say, unionizing the castle maids when those maids have no monster-hunting skills whatsoever.

    This also ties into establishing the stakes for the reader, because it’s tough to suspend disbelief that the friend is in imminent danger — and that the friend is truly a friend from the protagonist’s POV — if the protagonist is taking the time to worry about whether the maids are getting paid enough.

    2) And on the topic of whether the friend is really treated as a friend, second issue is when character interactions aren’t congruent with their relationships. Another writer’s blog mentioned a story where a building is destroyed, and the protagonist’s mother is in it. The protagonist is relieved that he himself wasn’t in it, but has no reaction to his mother’s death. I gather the writer didn’t intend for the protagonist to seem psychotic. He’s supposed to be “normal.” And yet …

  99. 3) I just thought of a third one, which ties into plotting and worldbuilding: Exploring the logical implications of your story’s premise. And your world’s premise if doing fantasy and the like. If you have a world where a witch can kill your cow just by looking at poor Bessie, then burning her at the stake is no longer an act of ignorant superstition. It’s now self-defense.

    The writers of “Dragon Age” got a lot of mileage out of the premise that mages can throw fireballs at people. If they can do that, wouldn’t everyone be afraid of them? Yes, yes they would. So the mages are rounded up and cloistered under the watch of templars, who can nullify their powers. But do the mages like being under lock and key? Some do, some don’t. Do the templars like keeping the mages cloistered? Some do, some don’t. The premise is conflict-fuel for three games in the series.

    I often see writers set up a scenario whose implications they fail to explore, which means instead of fridge logic, where something is only recognized as “off” in retrospect, immersion is killed from the very beginning.

  100. I am currently working on two separate novels. One is a collaboration the other is solo. I have my library well stocked with writing guides. I would like to see something about writing nonfiction. One of the books I am working on is an autobiographical and we really need every name to be changed.

    The other thing I would like to see is some expansion on many of the concepts in writing character arcs. How does one develop a character arc based on a real human being?

  101. I’m planning to write a parallel timeline novel for my NaNo 2018 project. I’ve done some research but there’s not a whole lot of information out there on structuring dual timelines… Most of what I’ve found is for multiple protagonists, either in the same or different time periods. My story will be the same protagonist in the same time in a “what if?” kind of scenario, both of which start in the same place but branch off in different directions. For all intents and purposes, I’ll be treating each timeline as an independent story, and each version of the protagonist as a different character… but I’m struggling with how to subtly weave them together (eg, similar events happening at the same time in each storyline and all the plot points lining up), whether I should bring them together at the end and how to do it, and even just how to denote which storyline belongs to which version of the protagonist in a way that’s not confusing or jarring. You are the queen of story structure, so if anyone can help with parallel timelines, it’s you! 🙂

  102. I would like to hear how you dealth with rejections form agents and pulbishers.

  103. I’d love to see a post on how forms of Third-Person vs. First-Person POV affect the way readers see and empathize with characters, and on how to switch points of view without confusing the reader.

    • As a reader of many genres I have to comment here I am vehemently careful to vet anything I’m paying money to buy. POV is the first hurdle, no matter the genre. 1st person cannot carry a story for me: too “head hoppy” leads to boring quickly. I avoid even more multiple viewpoints… in Fiction, just tell the story, keep the actors in their proper places and the story should easily unfold. Otherwise, I’ll just look for another book to buy.

  104. Chris Lambiase says

    I wouldn’t mind some help with an approach on multiple characters. I find it hard to balance showing each of them attention. Also transitioning between them has been a challenge as well.

  105. Douglas Felton says

    What are some tricks of the trade for getting unstuck at the halfway point. My stories seem to bogged down around 40 or 50 thousand words. I have read everything you’ve written on story structure, and it is very helpful, but still I find myself in need of a literary tow truck.

    • I’m with you on this one, Douglas. Stuck at about 50k, and can’t bear the thought of returning. I fully endorse the golden rule, to set a writing time and do it every day, but my work as a contract proofreader requires my best attention period (for me that’s 8:00 to noon). If I stop writing for several days straight, I need more than just a tow truck. Maybe I have to change my job.

    • perhaps you need a little less “Literary” and a little more of your own freeform style, setting you apart from the thousands of mundane, copycat writers… BE Brave, Do things others do not. Shake up the plot with fresh ideas. Take a plot familiar and very well received..TWIST IT until it cries! Add characters that are NOT anywhere near a cliche OR recognizable from other stories because they seem so darn REAL you know them from somewhere. YEP, that will take a while to produce but once on the way…those people you have created will take over and finish the job for you faster than you can get it on the page. That’s what I search for: new plotlines, realistic new characters….
      wishng you GOOD WRITING

  106. I would appreciate more on selecting and developing themes

  107. Richard Morrow says

    You’re judicious in avoiding personal information which is wise but all-time personal favorite authors in your genre might be of interest to your readers. I write mystery/crime and my favorites are LeHane and Connelly. I write strictly to amuse friends who often ask about favorites, i.e. who would I recommend?

    • Respectfully request we keep this venue to writing subjects and do not allow any Author Name Building in this venue about WRITING.. keep it to author issues about WRITING BOOKS and not about “getting your name out there.”

  108. Thanks for asking. I LOVE your blog and your books, of which I’ve read at least two about structuring novels. However, I still find myself a little unclear about the difference between inciting event and key event, and the purpose of each.

    • This is an excellent question. I’ve studied it so far by reading a number of fiction books by known excellent authors and am trying to examine and contrast their styles vs. their genres to figure out the best methods. Above all, I wish to not be, at any point, dirivative in my writing.

    • Me too.

  109. Diane Werckle says

    What is the most effective single strategy you use to recognize and change a “tell” into a “show.”

  110. I really enjoy your podcasts when you dissect what worked and didn’t work in a movie. I usually haven’t seen the movie in question, but still always learn something. I can’t get enough of these movie autopsies! Maybe you could do some classic movies most people are likely to have seen (Jerry McGuire, Sleepless in Seattle….those types of movies.) Many good thanks for all the good work you do!

  111. I’m stuck knowing what to cut. I know I need to cut, and it’s not like I’m so in love with my words that I’m not willing. I am willing and have had multiple people review to identify what needs the axe! But one reader will tell me to cut something, then 2 more will want to add that back in. How can I identify points to pare down my word count without sacrificing story or style? This is more for short stories I think, as the longer word counts are hurtful towards finding a home for them – and I’m sure there are other problems, but this is the one I am stuck on right now!

  112. I enjoy your blog and almost always learn something new. I would love to see more written about planning a series, and especially about the problem I’m wrestling with right now: What do you do when a standalone WANTS to be a series? How on earth do I plan it from an existing book? Thank you!

  113. Jim Porter, Sr says

    I’d like to know about the midpoint. It seemed simple enough, but then a friend raised the matter about the mirror-point that may or may not coincide with the midpoint. (The mirror-point being the scene or scene portion that drives the resolve of the main character to the final conclusion. The resolve may either be a conclusion from the previous character information, or it may be a fresh position or idea that starts the ball rolling. I don’t understand it.)

    I once left my home town to pursue special-student status in fiction writing at a major university. We were taught a lot about form and character, but the professors did not know about structure, though they used it every day in their own writing. It was about four years or so after that, that Syd Field wrote his book, Screenplay, and then around the same time, William Goldman wrote his book about Hollywood screenwriting, Adventures In the Screen Trade. Both of those books dealt some with the midpoint but certainly not the mirror moment.

    I would genuinely appreciate your help.

    Thank you.

    Jim Porter, Sr.
    And, of course, always a fan.

  114. I would love if you write about how to make a differential for your story and how to make it outstand the concorrency.

  115. What is a good guide for incorporating setting into a story? I tend to give a very detailed description of settings and have been told by my critique group that it tends to be an information dump. I have also tried to work in bits of setting descriptions throughout the story where it seems appropriate, but don’t feel this is really my style of writing. I have seen both types in other novels by well-established authors. Do I just go with my “gut”?

  116. I don’t have any writing guide suggestions, but I do have a tip for moving: put as many details on your boxes as you can! We had a LOT of bookshelves to pack, so having “Living room, 3rd from top” on the box made it super easy to reassemble in our new place.

  117. Maybe something like “First Draft finished – now what?” – some guidelines on how to start revising? (as I am getting really close to that point, I look at all the annotation I made on the way, all the little and bigger “to-dos”, and wonder where to begin)

  118. Shannon OHare says

    I would like to learn more about research, and changing information you find to fit your story. Like, say your story is set in a real city but you don’t want to give real addresses/street names for privicay to the people who live/work there. Aside from using main site-seeing locations how accurate do I have to be? Can I create fictional streets in a real city? Also how much research is too much research? is there a thing as too much research, especially for fictional stories? I mean I’d like to to seem real to a point but also it’s a fictional story, not based on reality.

  119. Hi Katie, why is the word ‘was’ so forbidden in writing? I have read many places that ‘was’ should be avoided at costs. I would love to hear your opinion.

  120. Hi Katie,
    What is your opinion of the practice of releasing pieces of novels for purchase. The book THE RED LEDGER comes to mind. I see there are four episodes (for last of a better word) released at a cost for each. Is this prudent in the long run?

  121. I would welcome an article on how to correctly undertone the emotional current in a story-without letting it get out of hand and creating a soap opera.

  122. I’m not sure how to select a title that sells. My genre is historical fiction, with romance but the romance is not the main plot. There’s not too many books on my topic and those that are don’t look like they sell well. (Reformation) . One that is in the same era is Q by Luther Blissett but I don’t want a one-letter title!
    Also, what kind of cover goes with this genre? I could use ideas on how to write a great tagline and back cover description. Do basically everything on the outside of my book- the wrapping paper so to speak.

  123. Dennis Strack says

    I have a question: How do you finish your first draft without having to worry so much about getting everything perfect? I have that problem a lot with getting through the first draft of my story.

  124. Firstly, I want to thank you for all of your hard work. I’ve learned a lot about the creative writing process through your blog/ and podcast. As for suggestions, I am having a hard time with fleshing out my supporting characters. All of them seem to be mindless automatons. I’ve given them motivation and goals but they still seem lifeless. I would love a more in depth look at what your process looks like when you create supporting characters. Thanks again!

  125. Things that I’m currently trying to navigate are: How to do research for historical novels and the first steps in the publication process. What do you do when you’re on your fifth draft and starting to feel like it will never be “done”? Also this is a weird one but I’m writing a novel and I want to see it published but I don’t want any of my friends or family to read it. Have you ever had confidence issues or even embarrassment about sharing your writing with the people closest to you?

  126. I would love a post on how to incorporate a characters thought-dialogue into a story well. I know we need to show not tell, but in character moments of self reflection, especially in deep POV, how do you show their thought process well, and what is the right balance of word based thoughts and showing feelings through actions, physical sensations and spoken dialogue.

  127. Brooke Williams says

    How can I make my characters more relatable? And if my antogonist isn’t another person, how do I make the antogonist drive the conflict at the beginning and “flex his muscles” at the pinch point?

  128. I am a newbie to writing. I listen to your podcasts, I have bought your books, and I read information on your helping writers become authors website. I enjoy it very much! It would be a tremendous help if you could write an overview of the process of writing a book from the big idea, to the point where your book makes it onto the shelf (or Virtual shelf). An overview or summary would be helpful about how to proceed. I am currently taking notes, researching and outlining!

  129. Thanks for asking! There are a couple things I’d like to know about.

    1) I’m in the midsts of revising, rewriting, and editing. I tried the free version of ProWriting Aid and it keeps telling me a percentage of my sentences are sticky. I’ve tried “unsticking” them but it makes no difference. How do I tackle style overall?

    2) Thinking of the publishing process:

    How do I define my unique selling point?
    How do I find titles I can compare to so that I can frame my novel in a sales pitch?

    Good luck on your move!

  130. Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about recently Or be interested to read about:

    What dramatic tension even is and how we use it

    Scene execution and developing conflicts.

    Writing characters that the reader cares about and gets invested in.

  131. I figured out one more that I realized I seriously wanted: How to write a heartbreaking (heart wrenching) death of a character. Ways you can foreshadow this, and how to make the reader feel the pain.

  132. I would love for you to talk/write about the approach you take to reviewing your work, and what techniques a beginner can use to know what is and isn’t working in the story. <3

  133. Thank you for your wonderful input to creative writing. In my WIP I decided to kill a dog. In fact a pet turned guard dog. The traitor pierced the dog’s throat with an arrow then disguised the death by putting it’s head in a rabbit trap. My writing buddies are “Oh you can’t do that.” or “Why would you want to kill the man’s best friend.” plus more. I started to feel guilty. The dog’s death plays a role in revenge at the traitor’s execution. Someone suggested bring a puppy into the story later to appease the readers.

    I am trapped inside my own fiction. Any suggestions?

  134. I’m happy to see so many good questions posted. One of the limitations I face is not knowing what I don’t know. Any tips for recognizing when you’ve got something all wrong? It’s a common enough condition in the world.

    Good luck with your move!

  135. Ooo! More specifics about pinch points! And examples of good ones? 🙂

  136. Bethany Egan says

    I love your blog so much and thank you for all the amazing helpful tips you have given me. I would really appreciate if you wrote a post on how to transform a real-life event into a fictional story. I’m writing a book about my Grandma’s childhood at the moment and having trouble combining truth and fiction in a seamless way. Thank you so much!

  137. Thanks for asking! To keep it simple, I would love to hear your insights on crafting the perfect ending to a memoir.

  138. I’d like some tips on revising. How do you stay organized? Where do you start? At which stages do I ask for feedback and which types of feedback do I ask for at each stage of revision (beta reading vs. paying an editor to help me with the manuscript).

  139. Soul.
    My writing has no soul. How the heck do I give it a soul?

  140. Thanks for asking! A few things from me & our writing group.
    – Do I really NEED a platform? (I don’t wanna, I’m confused, I wrie fiction and dint need to be expert, someone said, etc.)
    – How to decide whether to self publish or try to find an agent — what factors to weigh, pros and cons, etc.
    – how to find your genre among the many sub genres and flexible definitions.
    I know the platform and agent questions have been discussed as nauseum but people are looking for things to help them decide vs an opinion I think.

  141. I would really enjoy some in depth posts about Macro editing. I can’t find any information that is super helpful and isn’t vague. I would enjoy something about doing macro edits around your character Arc and Novel Structure.

  142. I’ve seen you talk a couple of times about Dramatica, I’d love you to do a series on that and discuss how you use it.

  143. My protagonist lies, it’s her default position and something she learnt to do to survive childhood. How can I show this rather than tell? As I beginner writer, I am so wary of too much telling and I think this issue is my blocker for getting going with my novel.
    I found you and your site a couple of months ago and have found it incredibly useful – thank you – I have completed an outline using Scrivener and my structure and am ready to go, but I feel frozen!
    I want to get the opening scene / chapter right – the hook and the character and the theme. It’s paralysing me! I want my protagonist opening with a lie but I don’t know how best to do it – show v tell.
    Not sure I know what I’d like you to write about, but I sure do need some help 😲
    I hope you can shed some light and give me the push I need to get going.
    Thank you 🙏

  144. What are your thoughts on Wallace Wang’s “”5 Minute Movie Method” and will you be prepared to post a series of articles on an analysis of it?

  145. Talk about the rising action/ the middle section of a story. Many people, including me, have trouble with this part.

  146. I love your posts. They cover a broad range of topics. They also go deep.

    I’m particularly interested in further exploring ideas on character types (such as those you identified in your Enneagram post) and how combinations of these can be selected to maximise conflict.

    I have also appreciated your discussions of theme, character arc and story arc, and how these intertwine over accepted conventions of story structure.

    Thanks again for your posts. I subscribe to a few blogs but yours I particularly look forward to!

    Best wishes
    Jeremy

  147. Hello — Thank you so much for all of the wonderful inspiration and advice of the past several years. I would like to know why you decided to move so soon after recently remodeling your home office writing space. Also, perhaps describe your “typical” writing day, if there is such a thing. What kind of hours do you keep? What tools do you use? How many words do you write? How much time writing, versus planning, plotting, outlining, etc? How do you stay motivated?

  148. I’m writing a SF/Fantasy novel (to become series) with multiple characters followed in different locations. They will interact at various times. In outlining the first novel, I can already see problems with maintaining the pace of the story, and the character arcs. Any suggestions would be gratefully received!

  149. More about writing the first chapter, please. The first few paragraphs are particularly difficult to get right, even with beta readers’ critiques.
    I’m forever editing the beginning and find I can’t move on.

  150. Artie Dinters says

    Hey there!

    How about short fiction? Let’s say, a difference between short stories and longer novels. Is structure the same for short stories as for novels or it can be more loose? Should we write short stories or novels first? Is there a purpose for short stories? Something like that 😀

  151. How to overcome the feeling that whatever I write it’s all been done before… PLEASE! 🙂

  152. Dear K.M.,

    In recent months I have been fortunate to read many of your articles about writing. Your insight and clarity of your wisdom is a rare gift.

    Years ago on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean I watched a fisherman as he filleted his morning catch. His technique and his blazing quick movements were artistic and entertaining. The sharpness of his knife was a metaphor for his perfect precise cuts.

    Your approach to carving up the topics you write about are…clean, clear, concise, and complete. Reading your articles reminds me of that day at the dock watching that fisherman.

    During the last two years I have written my first two novels as the beginning of a series (hopefully). In the last few months I have been researching the best platform to build an author’s website.

    May I ask what components you chose for your website(s)? E.g. WordPress? Themes? Other software and design components? Processing services, Web Hosting, etc.

    I will continue to read your articles and blog posts. I also look forward to reading your eBook, Behold the Dawn, which I have just downloaded.

    Thank you,

    Matthew

  153. I would love some examples of showing not telling I am not yet confident in this area of my writing many thanks

  154. Sonya Simonds says

    I’m wondering about something to do with what would happen if the Midpoint was a negative event–i.e., if the antagonist takes over the world of the story at the Midpoint, so that basically the second half of the Second Act takes place in the changed world under the antagonist’s control. I still have an idea for how I can make the Third Plot Point a negative event on its own (with a seeming victory just before, and victory after), but how does having a negative Midpoint like this one affect the Third Plot Point? The First Plot Point also has things change, just more in a positive way.

    Maybe a good post on this topic would be about positive and negative events in the First Plot Point, Midpoint and Third Plot Point, or other parts of the structure, and how those plot points could balance or mirror each other, and what happens in between. (I read a bit about this in the story structure analysis of ‘The Lego Movie’: https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/movie-storystructure/the-lego-movie/)

    Another thing is that the book I’m writing is a sequel, and I’m wondering if there’s anything in particular to writing a Flat Arc in a sequel when the first book with the same protagonist was also a Flat Arc. How might this work in regards to theme, for example? I think the book may have some of the same themes, but also some new-ish ones.

  155. אמיתי זמורה says

    Can you give tips about writing web series ?
    And if you have knoledge about writing with improv actors

  156. What to do if I feel the conflict is moving along too quickly while writing

  157. Jim Wilbourne says

    I recently read a plotting book that recommended that you plot acts 2 and 3 (starting with the twist/plot point 2, all is lost moment, climax, and resolution), and to save the first act’s outlining for last. While I’ve heard that you can plot a book backwards, this is a method that actually makes sense to me. Maybe you already have a post on this, and maybe this warrants a simply reply rather than a whole blog post, but I wonder if you’ve ever tried this or if this is how you plot as well.

  158. I’m working on my MFA at VCFA and am researching how best to sprinkle in the magical aspect of a story that is set in a our normal world. How much sprinkling is too much? How little is too little? What is the right balance? The magic shouldn’t spring out of nowhere but it should be hidden deftly in the scenes.

  159. I primarily write very short-form. Very short stories, scenes in games.

    Recently, I’ve been poring over “Structuring Your Novel”, especially how scenes and acts are structured, because I’m trying to figure out how structure “nests” in longer or shorter stories.

    In my media, several tiny “mini-scenes” are meant to combine to make larger arcs — likes scenes being composed into acts, but smaller.

    But over time, it’s almost the opposite – by completing “mini-acts”, I wind up changing theme more often, like books in a series. I’m trying to figure out how your structure scales up or down in time.

    The other thing I do a lot of is presentations on stage… which actually have *really* similar characteristics. Each “bite” presented is extremely short, but there are often multiple themes to present. Never more than two or three, of course — forty minutes of speaking isn’t long. But it still often winds up less thematically coherent than a novel because several interlinked stories need telling.

    Anything you can offer in those directions would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  160. I get stuck about 75% through in every project I start and it always seems like a huge hump of resistance hangs at that point. I’ve discussed it with friends, and we have the theory that this is the “magic” point where you can give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, but not take responsibility for the failure if it doesn’t fly. Any ideas about how to beat this demon? Yes, I know to “just write!” but there is a 75% point for every stage of the writing journey, not just first drafts, and I am sick of getting hung up at that point on every step.

  161. I’d love a post about helping the characters from your outline come ‘alive’ on the page.

    Whenever I draft a book, I always have characters from my outline who play a role in the plot and have their own goal/motivation/conflict in the outline, but when I try to write them they’re basically cardboard cut-outs, and I have trouble connecting with them and turning them into human beings who *do* things and make decisions (conversely, I also always end up with at least one character who takes on a life of their own and has far more depth and personality than I’d anticipated 😛 ).

    Sometimes it takes all of two lines of dialogue for me to *know* a character, while others are still paper dolls after an entire draft, so any suggestions on how to make the latter more like the former would be awesome 🙂

    Thank you for all that you do!

  162. More content for those just starting out as readers, I know this is too much to ask but ………….

  163. I need to know how describe that my character is feeling vulnerable without saying, “Seth felt vulnerable. ” Also, do men and women express/experience vulnerability differently?

  164. Hello! I’d like too see a piece about research in general.

    Is it necessary? Research “counts” as working on your writing in a daily basis? What’s the best way to do research? I’ve seen you’ve written about research before writing, but is it possible to research while writing a piece?

  165. Sylvia Broady says

    I find your blog interesting and helpful and I would value your thoughts and opinion. on the following. I have an idea for a novel to write a dual timeline, which I have never done before. It is set in the WW2 period and then 20 years later. A friend writes the dual timelines separately and then interweaves them, but I am not sure of this method of writing. Sylvia Broady.

  166. How to overcome the feeling that this project is too large. I’ve never written so much and feel like I can’t get a handle on what’s on the stack of papers– trees for the forest kind of thing?

  167. Hi, I was interested in your advice about some techniques for short story writing and some similarities/differences on how to approach the short form vs long form. How to create compelling characters, plots, and themes with so little breathing room? Thanks!

  168. I am writing a series/stories with recurring characters who live in the same geographical area. Do you have suggestions on which steps to take to do this (outline, timeline, characters, charts…) effectively? Meaning without me throwing my computer through the window!

  169. KM, I’d like you to write about how you use Internet Marketing/social media to promote your books, blog, facebook posts,Tweets, YouTube videos, and whatever other social platforms you like to use. How do you get the word out about your books? What works best? What’s your strategy? How much time do you spend on it? What have you learned with your marketing efforts? What tips and advice do you have? What are your marketing successes? What are your marketing disasters (if any 😉 ). Where all do you sell your books and which places work best for you? Write about the business-end of your writing.

  170. Candace Harris says

    Dictating fiction novels for speedy writing of the first draft!

  171. Not sure what your next topic should be since you’re already my go to site for almost anything about the craft of story/writing. Just thought it was time to say thank you for all you’ve already got out there.

  172. How to generate ideas for short stories.

  173. robert Lazet says

    How to keep a conversation not to short, and what we can or cannot put in there.

  174. I am currently stuck for a title for a story. This is most unusual. Can you write about how to choose the perfect title? Thank you!

  175. How about how to properly express the emotion of the character? For certain situations(in between dialogue, alone, with someone but not speaking, etc) and how much we should describe in a moment.

  176. How about an article on how to handle and fix “Vague and abstract” words. Or anything on the nuts and bolts of writing, like cliches. LOL. But for me, I would like to know how to fix vague and abstract words. . .like the word “would” in my sentence. Or how to fix “Sticky/glue” sentences. Thanks. Your site is my go to.

  177. NANYAMKA JENKINS says

    Hi, I would like you to write about defining a Genre and how to properly mix them together to make something great! For example, I really like cozy mystery but if you mix it with suspense or romance isn’t it just a suspense or romance? What should a writer remember when combining genre ?

  178. Byron Peters says

    Would like to see more on how to assign distinctive voice to each character, without making each into a caricature. — Aside from that, thank you very much for your ongoing work to help writers.

  179. It’s lovely to see a content creator asking what their readers would like to see from them, and reading through the comments there are certainly plenty of suggestions for you to work with and I would like to see you respond to. Not well-worded, so bear with me; I’ve been wanting to write a story from the POV of two protagonists, and want to know how much page time each character should have if they are equally important. Should the amount be as equal as possible? Should you work on a rotation (Bob does chapter one, Kyle chapter two, Bob chapter three etc), or can their input be more random? You opinion on the rehashing of scenes from different POVs also piques my interest, as well as the increase of objectivity over intimacy when writing from multiple POVs and how to maintain that emotional connection with the reader since my story is more character-driven. In short, I’m interested in how to write multiple POVs engagingly and without making my story a head-scratching mess. I admit I am new to your blog, so I apologize if you have done these before. Whether you consider this or not, I’ll enjoy your next blog post 🙂

  180. Could you write about structuring the first half of ‘act two’, how to break that down into smaller chunks, how you decide what order things should happen.

    I’m attempting to write a novel with a mystery component, and have a whole bunch of characters (potential suspects) to introduce, so I’d love some advice about how to do this most effectively.

    These are two questions, but they’re interrelated for me. Anything you can suggest in these areas would be great. Thanks for your excellent blog, podcasts and books.

  181. I have two suggestions. First, outlining and structure for a short story. Your books on outlining and structure for novels are awesome. I’d like to see how that applies to short story. Second, world building. Whether it be Speculative Fiction, Historical, or whatever how to you build a believable world?

  182. Story structure database Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man !! 😀

  183. I would love to read about crafting dialog .Thank you

  184. Cecilia Ohman says

    write about gratitude and humility and creativity
    thanks, your blog is also my “go to site”

  185. Hi Katie, and thanks for asking.
    I would very much like to hear more of Mini-plots, what’s important, what not, must have’s, how it arcs, and so on.

  186. I agree with James W, something on how to use abstract words in fiction would be good. Or maybe something about when can you simply shock and surprise and when should you foreshadow. Good luck with the move and thanks as always for your generous insight.

  187. How would you incorporate what you have done in the preliminary stage into the actual writing stage? I feel that so much of what I accomplish during research and outlining is ignored as I write, which, in turn, makes me feel I’m not doing an adequate job of writing. How do you correlate the two?

  188. I have a problem with story length. I would love to see a post about deciding a word count for your novel and how to achieve that word count (no matter what it may be!).

  189. Maybe the ten most important things you’ve learned about writing through your experience. 🙂
    Praying that your move goes well!

  190. I love all your marvel posts, they really help make all the writing rules and guidelines clearer. I was hoping for a post where you list marvel characters and share their Myers Briggs and Enneagram personality types and talk about what makes them fall into those personality types.. Also I bought that Personality Types book about Enneagram and it does hit way too close to home for comfort, so thanks for that lol.

  191. It might be helpful to discuss transitioning from a scene outline to a first draft and the relevant curveballs the writer will receive as he or she does so. How do we stick to our outline when the characters seem to be changing the plot? What happens when a chapter seems to require “micro” scenes? Does this negate the Scene being the true fundamental building block of writing, or is the writer misstepping somewhere? Is it ok if there is an uneven balance of scenes in each act, even though the plot points happen at roughly the correct moment in the overall story? What would that look like? A more in-depth approach to translating thoughts to words, what that process is like, and how the writer can polish his or her rough draft would be awesome information to receive from you!

  192. Carolyn Morrill says

    I am a new writer, so all the above suggestion are useful. However, I would like some help with Memoirs. I have been doing some genealogy. I am writing life stories, mine and others. I don’t want them to be just facts. I want them to be about memorable events that changed lives, theirs or some else’s. I’ve been using your examples of structure, character building and building the scene. They don’t fit exactly, so would like more.

    I have found your help invaluable and am so glad you are so willing to share. Thank you so very much.

  193. I have another: Could you write about deciding whether to go with traditional pub or self-pub first?

  194. I could use more details on expanding the outline of your story. I often find that my plans for stories have long stretches of “this thing keeps happening”–maybe a situation slowly deteriorates, or the characters are traveling, or they’re learning a new skill. And I need to liven up the events that happen in that long stretch so it doesn’t drag, or so I don’t end up skipping a large part of the structure.

    • I find those instances to be a great time to have things happening in my subplots. That way that part of your novel doesn’t sag and become boring which is how you could lose readers. If you use a timeline, or plot path, as I call them, you can easily see where in your novel these long stretches of time are and see how your subplots can be worked in to liven up the place! Best of luck!

  195. Judith A. McFerren says

    I’d like suggestions for writing the middle of a novel. I have no problem with beginnings; stories seem to start wonderfully for me. And the end is written in my head almost as soon as the beginning is on paper. But I’d like suggestions for building the middle, maybe even a list like you made for beginnings, chapter breaks, plot reveals, etc. I know what needs to happen in the middle, but I get bogged down trying to put it in order and make it interesting.

  196. I would like you to write on “overcoming your demons and writing anyway” – demons such as low self esteem (those d$%& rejection letters, or worse no response at all) and in my case being on the right side of the snowbank as a cancer survivor and the impact of illness on creativity.

  197. I’m trying to outline a novel (earlier works of mine were more pantsing) and have read your book on the topic as well as your (and others’) info on scenes and sequels. I can’t seem to marry the 2 ideas. Your outline examples in Outlining Your Novel don’t seem to mention the elements of scenes and sequels. I tried to outline by planning the scene elements (goal, conflict, obstacles, etc) but ended up with a result that was very boring and uncreative and contrived. When I try to find scenes and sequels in other books, even award winning ones, I usually can’t find them, so it’s hard to study their use. Help? Does every part of the novel have to be a scene or sequel? How and where do you include them in your outline? Thanks!

  198. Savannah Bard says

    I’ve had this question for awhile, mainly just to myself but you’re much more qualified!
    How does one balance being a consumer (of media, entertainment, etc) with being a creator?
    I’m working my way through school and whenever I get a break I want to turn off, maybe watch a film, but the whole time I feel guilty that I’m not using that time to write. How do you balance it?

  199. I am a lifelong pantser trying to outline my novel using a combo of your workbook and the 7 point plot structure grid. I’ve got Part 1 of the story outlined, with a decent amount, but not too much, detail; just enough for me to get jazzed about it. Now I’m kind of tired of outlining and want to get back into discovery writing Part 1. It would be great if you could weigh in on the perils of writing Part 1 before you’ve finished (or even begun) outlining Parts 2 & 3. Thanks as always!

  200. I was Beta reading a YA novel for a friend a while back and ran across an interesting problem. Early on in the reading, based on the interactions and the level of tension between her female protagonist and one of the male supporting characters, I came to believe the two of them had a mutual unresolved romantic interest in each other. Which left me feeling lost when the supporting character (who I had taken to be the love interest) was killed during the First Pinch Point of the Second Act. Given that it was a science fiction YA, though, I thought perhaps the guy was just due to be resurrected or something (the rules of death in their universe might very well have been different than ours, so why not?). By the beginning of the Third Act I realized I had just been flat out wrong. Later when I discussed the story with my friend, I found out she’d never intended for there to be anything even remotely romantic between the two. Which left me even more confused. I did some hard thinking on why it was I had interpreted their interactions the way I had and a lot of it came down to genre reader expectation. YA novel+female lead+close male friend = romance. Right? Except this time it didn’t. Once I got over the mind-twisting shock of being so completely wrong about what it was I thought I was seeing, though, it was actually a refreshing change to not have the story revolve completely around romance. I did offer my friend some suggestions on how to adjust the two’s interactions early on to keep other readers from falling victim to the same expectation I did, but I’ve wondered ever since if you might have some tips on the subject? It’s not something that’s seen all that often, I suppose — having two straight leads of the opposite sex who don’t wind up in love. The only example that really jumps to my mind is Steve and Natasha in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (whose relationship I found both refreshing and amazing!). I know some fans walked away “shipping” them and wanting them to get together, but I didn’t feel cheated or shocked by the fact that they didn’t. The way they presented them somehow never built that expectation in me, so I didn’t walk away disappointed. I don’t know if this is something you’ve ever considered or not (and admittedly it is kind of a strange subject I suppose) but I would love to hear any thoughts or tips you might have on how to make a relationship like that work on paper. Thanks!

  201. I was reading Jaclyn Moriarty’s Spell Book, and a (rather ditsy) character who was also an author, would write a list of things, then sprinkle them through her book.

    I’ve been trying to understand subplots, and how they are an alternative take on the main theme, and I wonder if this technique has some merit?

    What do you think about writing a list of scenarios pertaining to the theme of the book, and putting various major or minor characters through them?

  202. I’d really appreciate a step-by-step guide of how to edit your first draft. What are the most important things to look for? Also, what do you do if certain parts of your book are too long or to short with relation to structural timing?

  203. What would I like you to write for me? That’s easy. A sequel to Wayfarer!!

  204. I loved all your articles about Theme and message. If you coud go deeper into those subjects, i would be really happy!

  205. Maybe a superhero story in the 21st century, and I would like to learn how to write a story that’s set in outer-space and set in the future,on a different planet with people that don’t have the ususal technology, but have gods, goddesses and dragons and whatnot.

  206. How much description can we give of a woman’s looks before it becomes objectification?

  207. Could you do one about idea exploration? I constantly struggle with my ideas and brainstorming struggles leading to a place far away from my original story idea. I’ve tried starting with theme, but then the story ends up feeling stiff and inorganic.

    I’ve also been thinking a lot about writing qualifications…about whether or not certain people aren’t qualified by their life experiences to write on certain topics, especially heavy topics like racism or abuse. This gets complicated in fantasy and sci-fi, as difficult topics like race, classism, and other forms of discrimination are almost a staple of the genre, since it is so often focused on societies and group psychology. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

  208. How about some valuable tips on editing the first draft?

  209. Rosalinda Alcala says

    I agree with both Ruby & Rex about needing some advice on editing one’s first draft. I am really feeling a bit overwhelmed with my first read of my entire story. I would love to have you share what items to look for in terms of structure, cohesiveness of the story and character behavior. Thanks!

  210. Maybe writing characters who are unpleasant or jerks without being evil? Or what about a genuine and realistic romance that doesn’t frustrate your readers?

  211. I find your site endlessly helpful and I was so excited when I read your email that I wanted to give your questions serious consideration. I came up with a few ideas for future posts I’d love to see. I hope that’s okay.

    I always seem to completely leave the setting out of most scenes in my first draft. Or I tell the reader once the character walked into a place. I have not mastered zooming in on the smaller details that bring the setting to life. So a post about weaving dialogue, setting, and description into your scenes would be a major help to me. I would find a checklist or formula I could pin above my desk extremely useful.

    I’d like to see your thoughts on timelines for each draft of your novel and goal setting to complete your novel.

    I’ve been reading your posts about conflict and tension this month and they’ve quickly become my favorite posts. I’d like to read more about both and how to approach conflict and tension in different genres. Conflict and tension in a mystery or thriller would be completely different from conflict and tension in a contemporary or fantasy novel.

    Do you have a “Before I send this to anyone” checklist? Fear has kept me from feeling my work is ready. I’m fearful about sending my work out with a major mistake I’ve overlooked that would cause an agent to delete it. You only have one shot in most cases and I don’t want an overlooked or unbeknownst mistake to ruin one of my chances.

    I saw another comment about dictating a novel and I give that idea two thumbs up. I’d love to hear about your experience with dictation software.

    I hope you had a safe move,
    Nicole

  212. I am struggling to find the balance in structure and creativity. When I try to just write I end up with a mess, but the words flow better. However, when I attempt to structure my writing with all the things you teach I end up feeling stifled. Is there a better way to balance than all or nothing, or what do you suggest? If you could only use a few of your templates what would they be (outline, character arc, etc)?

  213. I want you to create a series on Editing, like you did of outlining and structuring.
    Kinda big thing to ask for, ain’t it?

  214. Satou Tatsuhiro says

    When you’re studying a favorite author, what questions do you ask so that you can learn the most from their stories? I like to try to figure out what another author’s thought process was. Why did they choose this trait for character A and this trait for character B? How do those play off each other? Would there be a better choice for A so I can highlight B’s traits more?

    Character-based stories are what I really love. It doesn’t really need to have much of a plot for me to be interested. But when I try to write characters doing nothing, I come up short. How can I criticize my own work to fill in the gaps in my writing?

    I enjoy this site, there is a lot of useful information here.

  215. Agree with all of the above, absolutely loved the Marvel series and would be really interested in the “transitioning from a scene outline to a first draft”. I have so many scene outlines sketched out but for some reason, there seems to be a yawning chasm between the outline and actually taking pen to paper or fingers to keyboard as it were. I even have super detailed flash cards telling me all about the scene, but when it comes to actually writing it, I’ll try to start and might get as far as “once upon a time” or “one morning…” and then smack, hit a brick wall.

    Another interesting topic is series. I’ve read books and blogs on creating surprise, suspense and shock by essentially repeating a scene, but changing it slightly each time. I get the theory but I can’t quite picture how that relates to the architecture. Would you put a repetition in each act? Would you copy the words and clone the scene? Would you create 5 scenes and evenly scatter them, but then should the pre-midpoint scenes have a more confused feel than the repeated scenes after the midpoint? All very fascinating!

  216. It would be great if you have some tips on figuring out a character’s truth. The lie is usually pretty easy to figure out, but most of the time I find that the truth feels like it doesn’t fit, or that it’s lackluster compared to the strength of the lie.

  217. Creig Sigurdson says

    Hello Katie,
    I love all your books on writing and want to absorb all the lessons you share. I am afraid of my writing because I start with an idea, I can’t commit to a daily habit, because of all the garbage I have to spew out before I get to anything of worth. But I am finding that I have to just do the work, in order to get these people out of my head and on to the page. Please tell me that as sucessful as you are that you have the fight with resistance, cause I think I’m crazy sometimes with this urge to write. When I’m not writing All I think about is writing. Guilt is so much fun.
    All the best
    Creig Sigurdson

  218. …like I wrote in the other place….tell us how to deal with criticism of our writing. I find myself grinding my teeth when some of these [xxxxxx] beginning writers don’t recognize the perfection of my prose in a critique webpage.

  219. and another thing. Showing instead of telling. If you could show examples because often I don’t recognize myself doing this.

  220. Could you write about how to put in scenes that don’t necessarily move the plot forward but develop the characters or doing something else useful to the story? I find myself unable to write anything but the next scene necessary to reaching the goal.

  221. I’m writing Elizabethan fantasy and I struggle with writing good period dialogue and story tone that doesn’t come off as unrealistically modern or authentic but impenetrable. A post on getting period “feel” right would by greatly appreciated.

    • I share your concern. I am writing a fantasy taking place in the Eighteenth Century and am facing the same challenge. One solution I found is, reading novels from the time period and adopting their style of prose, narrative techniques, dialogue conventions, prosody, and even the different vocabulary used in the time period considered. From that frame, the writer can then introduce a more modern POV.
      For example, if your novel takes place in Fourteenth C Venice and involves war, you would consider reading Daniele da Chinazzo, ‘Cronaca della guerra tra Veneziani e Zenovesi’ written between 1379 and 1381. His style will sound right and your readers will love it. Research is very important as a publisher reminded me. Publishers are looking for authors who do a considerable amount of it. As an example, don’t introduce the Ponte dei Sospiri in 1498, like Elle Newmark did in ‘The Book of Unholy Mischief’ pub. in 2008.

  222. I would like to see a precise explanation of the relationship between the first plot point and the inciting and key events. I have read your posts on them but find them somewhat contradictory; in one you state that the first plot point should be the inciting or key event (or in between), in another you say that the the events should be in the first chapter, and in another you say that the first act should be devoted to the introductions. It seems that the first chapter would be quite long, encompassing all of the first act, if it had to fit in all the introductions and then the inciting and key events and first plot point.
    Did I misread something?

  223. Jenno Dorman says

    Will it be possible to adapt Wallace Wang’s “15 Minute Movie Method” into a series of articles relating it to novel writing?

  224. Hi K.M. referring back to your article in August 2015, on having a different Protagonist and Main Character, I would like to know more about the structural implications arising from this. You mention that the MC has to have a story arc, so I am curious about what this means for aligning the beats of the structure, and also not ending up with more than one story. Is this really a question about the outlining stage and how to decide whether or not to use this strategy after which the usual rules apply. I imagine that the decision impacts on the character, or flavour, of the book as a whole?

  225. My biggest two issues have to do with the term “enough.” How do I know when I have described enough, not described enough, edited enough, not edited enough, dialogued enough, not dialogued enough, been humorous enough… etc.

  226. I’m having trouble finding beta readers. I think the readers that have sent a response were being nice. I’m not a masochist but I’m finding it hard to believe my book is perfect. Is this normal? Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

  227. Oh another grey area for me has always been the intertwining of character arcs. Whenever I think about this, it starts to make my head spin. I’ve been watching Guardians of the Galaxy again and can’t untangle the arcs. With the origin stories, it’s pretty clear, a protagonist, an antagonist, a positive, flat or negative arc, done.

    But when arcs intertwine, I can’t seem to identify the key events, is there more than one key event? Do they take it in turns to ‘key event’ their way into the story? And in multi-arc stories I struggle to tell the difference between the protagonist(s) and, well, the plot. For example, in Jurassic World, Clare and Owen are sort of joint protagonists with positive and flat arcs, but yet the idominus rex itself is sort of a character, with a key event and build up, on a negative arc, or is it the plot?

  228. Ms. Weiland, In a 100,000 word fantasy, should the Inciting Incident be at the opening, in the beginning scene, at the 10% point (10,000 word mark) or strategically placed within the first 10%.

  229. Antonia Smith says

    Two topics I’m really interested in right now– characterizing dialogue (not through dialect or accent, but personality differences, gender, etc.), and evoking character/plot/mood/foreshadowing through the description of the setting

    Your blogs are so lovely to read, and very helpful, thank you! 🙂

  230. Are there any topic that qre definitely off limits in middle grade fiction? Thanks

  231. Something mundane as Sentence Structure, punctuation, pesky commas. Huh? What is a clause? How do you qualify a clause?

    For example, if a sentence has 3 parts, I understand parts 1 and parts 3 should read as one sentence, but what if it is part 2 and part 3 that are intended to be together.

    I think what I am asking is how to further qualify the second clause of a sentence. Is this ok:

    Now was the moment he relished, with his quarry fully awake to his reason, frantic and trapped and running blindly away from the only exit.

    Or should I remove any ambiguity? Using punctuation? Should I lose the offending part altogether:

    Now was the moment he relished, his quarry fully awake to his reason and running blindly away from the only exit.

    Or some other voodoo magic?

  232. I’d like to hear about how writers can connect with each other to support each other in different ways. Maybe you’ve already done some posts like this, but I’d love to read about how to start a critique group (online and in person).

  233. Hi, You Are And by far the BEST Help for a newbie Writer like, especially considering the fact I am not a native speaker! Really! I am working on my novel-in-the-making and getting so much help from your site! I definitely recommend your site to everyone writer, wannabe writer, etc…

  234. I like the way you expose every subject in this blog.
    I’m most interested in:
    – show don’t tell (especially at the level of sentence/paragraph)
    – deep point of view
    – conveying emotions (my own Achilles’ heel) 🙂
    Thank you!

  235. Mine would be, how to realistically write from a male’s point of view as a female writer?

  236. I recently came across your website, Kate, and very much appreciate your writing advice and your commitment to help writers. I would love some clarity on what are known as ‘weak verbs’. I have done a little research and am confused as to whether certain verbs not recommended in creative writing (such as the ‘to be’ and ‘to have’ families) are the same as the verbs which ‘ add an ending to a verb stem to indicate person, number, tense, and mood’ in other words, regular verbs.

    Is the use of regular verbs also not recommended in creative writing?

  237. could you write about ‘writing dimensionally’ so that as a reader i can keep track of where the characters are and how they are sensing and responding to their environment as they interact together. and don’t bore me with long description paragraphs or expect me to remember its winter while i’m reading your story at the beach. thank you, margaret (a visual aural reader – its all in my head)

  238. Hi Ms. Weiland
    I’ve also just recently discovered your website and find it the most clear, most technique driven advice on writing. You’re probably swamped with suggestions by now, but I would really like to know how to balance multi-POV stories. I understand that there should be one main character despite, but how do you balance character arcs? And in the climax, who should perform the essential act to resolve the conflict? The main character even if it’s not in his POV? All of them together? Hope these questions aren’t too confusing, because I tried asking other people and they said it is completely specific story-based.

  239. David Husted says

    I am trying to get more conflict in sentences, would you write about the nature of the small conflict, the one that fits and completes a page ….

  240. Your books and blog have helped me a lot to find out what’s wrong with my books and given me ideas how to fix it. Thank you. In Ursula Le Guin’s discussions about art I found the opinion that conflict is overrated. One of the books that touches me most deeply, her “the furthest shore” , has a magical serene quality. So, is conflict necessary for some kinds of story, or are there different kinds of conflict?

  241. Jason J. Willis says

    I’ve been looking at your structure database, which is amazing. I’d love to see some more examples of scene sequel breakdowns in this kind of format.

  242. I’d appreciate your thoughts on stories with ensemble casts. I’m writing a story where two characters are playfully retelling a story that they’re part of, but they aren’t the primary focus. All of the characters relate to the plot points in their own way, each pursuing their own goals, but I’m concerned that the reader may have trouble keeping up.

  243. Kari Gorman says

    I am trying to understand the role of the love interest more fully. Do they have their own plot points that they hit along with the main protag? If not, how do I plan their storyline?

  244. A little late to the party, but if you’re sticking taking ideas, how about something involving the sense of smell? Rather, DON’T forget the sense of smell.

    Once I read a certain cozy mystery where the M.C. gets hopping mad that her “sometimes boyfriend” dared suggest she sell brownies made by his old (female) friend in her bakery. (Said M.C. is in a love triangle with two men and nobody calls her out on her hyprocisy.) Her idea for revenge is to add jalapenos to brownies and feed them to her love interest. Except in the text, she adds the peppers into the mixing bowl, and this is a book that advertizes recipes for the readers to try. I tried the recipe as the M.C. did it, and I smelled the jalapenos even when it was baking. (Like, she didn’t even hide the peppers at the bottom of the pan. It was MIXED in before.) So, the M.C. looks less than intelligent for not noticing that her “revenge” brownies would have a distinct odor even before she tried to give them to her boyfriend.

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