Category Archives: Plotting

Three Simple Questions That Will Unlock Your Story

Writers are the most powerful people on the planet. Yes, you! You have the power to change your readers in a more profound way than almost anyone else they encounter.  How? By allowing them to experience, first hand, the profound … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Motivation, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Uncategorized, 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 | 11 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

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 | 14 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 | 25 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