Category Archives: Tension

How Stakes Set up Expectations

Last time I coached on Writers Helping Writers, I talked about 6 Tricks to Layer on Stakes, in it, I explained how I like to think of stakes as potential consequences–what could happen if a certain condition is (or is … Continue reading

Posted in Action Scenes, Characters, Conflict, High Stakes, Motivation, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 6 Comments

Stuck in No-Man’s-Land: Your Novel’s Middle

If you have hit the point in your draft where you’re looking out at the vast landscape of your novel with no idea where to go next, congratulations…you’ve probably made it to Act 2. I know, I know, there’s an … Continue reading

Posted in Action Scenes, Backstory, Basic Human Needs, Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, Fatal Flaw, Middles, Motivation, One Stop For Writers, Pacing, Plotting, Tension, Tools and Resources, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | Leave a comment

6 Tricks to Layer on Stakes

Stakes are what are at risk in a story. It might be that the protagonist’s life is at risk, or perhaps a romantic relationship, or maybe the opportunity to go on a long-awaited trip (Hello, Covid!). But I find this … Continue reading

Posted in Action Scenes, Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, Fear, High Stakes, Motivation, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 9 Comments

Storytelling Decisions: What’s the Right Pace for Your Story?

As we learn to write, we often hear about the need to create a strong pace in our story. Many seem to think that a strong pace requires a fast pace. However, that’s not what’s meant by strong. So what … Continue reading

Posted in Action Scenes, Backstory, Characters, Conflict, Description, Endings, Middles, Openings, Pacing, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Story Structure, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 13 Comments

How to Build Powerful Character Relationships

Character relationships are, in many ways, the glue that holds a story together. Almost every tale has at least one relationship at the heart of it, often more. Rarely can a character sustain a story on their own; they need … Continue reading

Posted in Basic Human Needs, Character Arc, Character Flaws, Character Traits, Character Wound, Characters, Conflict, Emotion, Motivation, One Stop For Writers, Plotting, Show Don't Tell, Stereotypes, Story Structure, Subtext, Tension, Uncategorized, Villains, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 9 Comments

Build a Bridge: From Story Beginning to Main Conflict

During one of my previous posts as a Resident Writing Coach, we talked about the importance of strong goals for helping our story move forward. But as we discussed in the comments of that post, our characters can start off … Continue reading

Posted in Action Scenes, Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, Openings, Pacing, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 9 Comments

Capturing an Unhappy Relationship: A Writer’s Roadmap

Relationships are a complicated beast, and if you write romance like me, then you’re wed (pun intended) to the HEA ending (happily ever after). But the reality is, we have a divorce rate of almost 1 in 2 marriages; so … Continue reading

Posted in Character Flaws, Characters, Conflict, Romance, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft | 15 Comments

Goal-Oriented Storytelling: Satisfaction

Welcome to the final post in this four-part series on ANTS. As I mentioned in my first post, ANTS is a goal-oriented framework for storytelling. It’s what you’re trying to achieve by making great characters, settings, and plots for your … Continue reading

Posted in Action Scenes, Character Arc, Characters, Conflict, Endings, Motivation, Plotting, Resident Writing Coach, Tension, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 6 Comments

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 | 10 Comments

How to Craft Engaging Dialogue Exchanges

One of the best places to reveal your character’s emotions is during dialogue. Author Peter Gelfan joins us with some great considerations on how to make these exchanges more powerful, drawing readers in. Read on! Although we like to think … Continue reading

Posted in Backstory, Characters, Description, Dialogue, Emotion, Guest Post, Show Don't Tell, Subtext, Tension, Uncategorized, Writing Craft, Writing Lessons | 7 Comments