Category Archives: Conflict

Avoiding Change: What’s Stopping Our Characters?

Stories are about change. Our characters’ world is changing around them, or they’re changing internally—or both. Yet at the same time, we know change is hard. In our own lives, we struggle to change our habits or take steps to … Continue reading

Posted in Basic Human Needs, Character Arc, Character Wound, Characters, Conflict, Emotion, Middles, Motivation, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 7 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

Saggy Middle? Use Conflict to Nip and Tuck It

When I get a new story idea, I fly into the start of it with as much gusto as a kid in a candy store. I’m filled with the buzz of ‘newness’ and the anticipation of where the story might … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Editing Tips, Middles, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Villains, Writing Craft | 7 Comments

Story Structure in a Flash

Story structure can sometimes be difficult to wrap our minds around; there are so many different structures, all with different terminology and slightly different meanings. But today I’m going to hopefully simplify things by covering how I view story structure—in … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Endings, Openings, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Story Structure, Villains, Writing Craft | 7 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

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

Episodic vs. Epic: Go Bigger with Your Writing

One of the most common reasons given by authors for why they write is a desire to create something meaningful for their readers, something that will stick with them or make a difference. One thing that helps our stories feel … Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Experiments, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Revision and Editing, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 22 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

No Shortcuts, Please: Myths and Misconceptions of Villains & Mental Health

I love the internet–I get to meet all sorts of wonderful people. Today I’m happy to welcome Sacha Black, who knows a heck of a lot about the baddie in your story…someone more important than some writers may realize. This … Continue reading

Posted in Character Traits, Character Wound, Characters, Conflict, Guest Post, Show Don't Tell, Villains, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 23 Comments