Category Archives: Plotting

Goal-Oriented Storytelling: Attachment

Imagine you’re playing your first game of Scrabble with a friend. You haven’t been taught the rules of the game, but you know the general idea is to make words and place them on the game board. Your friend gives … Continue reading

Posted in Character Arc, Character Flaws, Characters, Motivation, Plotting, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 11 Comments

Rules? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules

After we’ve been writing for a while, we’ve heard our share of writing rules. Sometimes we’re taught to avoid certain techniques, like prologues. Or we might be told that some storytelling approaches are too risky, such as using second-person point … Continue reading

Posted in Pacing, Plotting, Point of View, Uncategorized, Voice, Writing Craft | 24 Comments

The Art of “Skipping Around,” or Writing Out of Sequence

When other writers ask me if I’m a plotter or a pantser, I usually tell them, “I’m a little of both, but I’m also skip around.” By “skipping around,” I mean that I work on whatever scene I’m picturing clearest, … Continue reading

Posted in Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 30 Comments

Writing By Design Part 4: Contrast, or Light versus Dark

In earlier installments of this “Writing by Design” series, we’ve discussed how to use the constraints of space to lend a shape to your story, and we also looked at the importance of patterns in your writing, and when and … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Experiments, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 5 Comments

The Writer’s Spice Cabinet

Some writers object to thinking about plot and structure because it may lead to formulaic writing. They miss a critical distinction. Why does something become a formula in the first place? Because it works! Here’s a formula for an omelet: … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Dialogue, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Setting, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 7 Comments

Use Theme to Determine Subplots, Supporting Characters, and Tension

I recently spoke at the Storymakers conference in Utah, and while I was there, I attended a class on theme. Theme is kind of an ethereal topic, difficult to grasp and even harder to apply. But I was blown away … Continue reading

Posted in Plotting, Tension, Theme, Uncategorized | 21 Comments

How to Write an Effective Scene with One Stop for Writers’ Formal Scene Map

When it comes to story structure, writers seem to fall into one of three camps: they love it, hate it, or are completely confused by the many iterations of it. With this third group, it’s understandable. Are there 3 Acts, … Continue reading

Posted in One Stop For Writers, Plotting, Software and Services, Story Structure, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 8 Comments

Outlining Your Future Book in 30 Minutes

To plot or to pants? That is the question—one with as many different answers as there are writers. As an avid plotter, the idea of pantsing gives me the heebie-jeebies, but I understand that my over-the-top planning would probably make … Continue reading

Posted in Guest Post, Plotting, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Three Ways The Setting Can Steer Your Story’s Plot

The setting is a powerful force. Not only does it evoke mood, create tension and conflict, allow you to share critical backstory in a non-dumpy way, and draw readers deeper into the story through powerful sensory detail…it can also steer … Continue reading

Posted in Description, Mood and Atmosphere, Plotting, Setting, Setting Thesaurus Guides, Show Don't Tell, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 13 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