Category Archives: Characters

Beginnings and Backstory

You will find writers who argue that there should be no backstory at all in your first chapters. Why not? Because, by definition, backstory is what has happened before your narrative opens, and you want to establish the action first, … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Editing Tips, Empathy, Openings, Uncategorized | 17 Comments

Character Arc and Narrative Arc

Character arc: someone living their life Narrative arc: the things that happen when someone lives their life When I worked with children, I’d always teach them the simple, zen fact: every sentence has a subject and verb. Someone does something. I’d tell … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, Motivation, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Context, Text, and Subtext: What They Are and How They Help Storytelling

In writing tips, we talk about text a lot. But I feel like we don’t talk enough about context and subtext in this industry. Both are vital to good storytelling and often misunderstood or even mixed up. So today I … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Description, Dialogue, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 6 Comments

The Powerball of First Page Resources

As many of you know, I run a monthly critique contest here at the blog, where I offer to read first pages and share my feedback. People are so grateful to win, but I have to ask: who’s the real … Continue reading

Posted in Editing Tips, Emotion, Empathy, Openings, Pacing, Point of View, Show Don't Tell, Voice | 7 Comments

How to Nail the First Three Pages

Let’s face it, talking about writing the first pages of a novel is stressful. It can strike terror into the heart of even the most seasoned writer, because as writers we all know how scarily narrow the window is, and … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Openings, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Representation in Literature: Why It’s Important & How To Handle It

Happy to welcome Deborah Dixon, a passionate author, editor, and racial justice activist to talk a bit on Representation in Literature, a topic of importance and something I think many of us want to understand better so we can encourage … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Critiquing & Critiques, Diversity, Editing Tips, Focus, Guest Post, Stereotypes, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Create Killer Twists: Learn How to Redeem Your Villain

You might think a villain can’t be redeemed. After all, they’re sinister and twisted and think killing people is a post-dinner dessert choice. But even villains are people, and, no matter how coal-crusted it gets, they have a heart buried … Continue reading

Posted in Character Wound, Characters, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Villains | 23 Comments

Capturing Complex Emotion: A Writer’s Superpower

Our brain is driven by emotion. We may like to think we’re rational beings, applying the rules of logic calmly and sensibly to those little and not-so-little decisions, but our every thought, our whole perspective is colored by emotion. What … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Emotion, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized | 20 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

Powerful Scenes: Using One Stop for Writers’ Informal Scene Map

A while back I profiled some of the custom brainstorming tools at our sister-site, One Stop for Writers, which help take the mystery (and misery) out of story structure. One that I left off that post was our Informal Scene … Continue reading

Posted in About Us, Character Arc, Emotion, One Stop For Writers, Story Structure, Tools and Resources, Writing Craft | 3 Comments