Category Archives: High Stakes

The Easiest Way to Plan Characters in a Series: Cloning (Yes, Really!)

This spring, Becca and I released two very important tools for writers… The Emotion Thesaurus 2nd edition (expanded by 55 entries) and a Character Builder Tool at One Stop for Writers. These two releases happened within days of each other, … Continue reading

Posted in Backstory, Basic Human Needs, Character Arc, Character Flaws, Character Traits, Character Wound, Characters, Description, Emotion, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, High Stakes, One Stop For Writers, Series, Software and Services, Tools and Resources, Villains, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 2 Comments

Goal-Oriented Storytelling: Tension

This is the third post in my four-part series on ANTS, my framework for understanding what a story needs to keep readers engaged. Previously, I’ve covered attachment and novelty. Now it’s time to look at the big reason why stories … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, Emotion, High Stakes, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Uncategorized, Villains, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 5 Comments

Story Goals: Are They Slowing Your Story’s Pace?

If we’ve spent any time learning about story craft, we know the importance of goals in our story. They affect every aspect of our story: Stories are about a problem to solve—a goal. Characters striving for something are more compelling. … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Characters, Fear, High Stakes, Motivation, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 12 Comments

And…Action! Applying TV Lessons to Chapter Hooks

We’ve probably all heard the advice to end our scenes and chapters on a hook. At the end of every scene or chapter, readers might put down our book and decide against picking it up again, so it’s important to … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Conflict, Experiments, Fear, Flashbacks, High Stakes, Resident Writing Coach, Series, Story Structure, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

Raise the Stakes By Making It Personal

Compelling novels have many different ingredients that make them fascinating to read, but one standard components is a healthy, continual dose of ACTION. The protagonist is always doing something: weighing alternatives, choosing options, making decisions and then acting on them, … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Fear, High Stakes, One Stop For Writers, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 7 Comments

3 Tips To Creating A Time Bomb Plot Device

One of the things we always want as writers is to keep readers engaged, to hold their interest all the way from Page One to The End. The Ticking Time Bomb scenario can be really effective for this, and Jonathan Vars … Continue reading

Posted in High Stakes, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

What’s the Dark Night Moment All About?

You’re coming to the end of the tunnel, and you see a bright light illuminating the finish line. You are almost through writing your novel! If you’ve done your homework, you’ve carefully worked out the big build to the exciting … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Fear, High Stakes, Motivation, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Writing Craft | 5 Comments

Writing to the Beat: Translating Story Beats to Any Genre

Readers of my blog know I’m a big fan of beat sheets, even creating a beat sheet for romance stories. Because of that, writers ask me what beats they should include in their mystery, thriller, or *insert any genre here* … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, High Stakes, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Story Structure, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 19 Comments

Why Characters Need Choices in Fiction

Help me welcome one of our favorite people, Janice Hardy (@Janice_Hardy). She has a great post on the importance of providing characters with stake-heavy choices, so please read on. 🙂  Choices drive every single conflict in a novel. The protagonist … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Empathy, Guest Post, High Stakes, Pacing, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 11 Comments

Suspense in Stories…the Big Tease

Suspense is one of the storyteller’s biggest teases. It’s a state of waiting, of growing unease in the reader. Most stories consist of raising questions and delaying the answers. Suspense in its purest form heightens that sense of uncertainty. This … Continue reading

Posted in High Stakes, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized | 16 Comments