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As writers, we often fall into a trap of dissatisfaction — always looking to future successes for happiness, instead of today. Here’s how to break free.
In describing songs that are needlessly complex, Debussy said, “They smell of the lamp, not of the sun.” The same can be said of certain stories.
When I entered college in 2011, I became obsessed with finding out what makes a story worth telling. Many answers awaited me.
When I first started writing, I was a pantser. Later, I became a plotter. Now I sit somewhere in the middle and use what I call a Progressive Outline.
“How do you create good (emphasis on *good*) emotional character arcs? I’ve seen tons in the media but I wouldn’t know where to start. Are there any basics, like where to start and end? I think I’d know how to work out the middle if there was a start and end.” Question from Tumblr user: … Continue reading How to write a good character arc | Follower Q&A
Want to merge character development with plot? Give the Character-driven Plot Wheel a spin.
Over the last decade, I graduated from high school, got a bachelor’s in writing, earned an MFA in fiction, and began my career as a copywriter. In that time, I grew a lot as a writer — so I thought I’d share the lessons that helped me most along the way. How does one from … Continue reading 10 lessons from a decade of writing
Readers love to see a character grow. To see them learn something, realize their goals, or overcome a deepfelt pain, misbelief, or fear. But how do you track that growth effectively over the course of a story? My preferred method is outlining their character journey in four steps: Establish the Struggle: Convey your character’s core emotional … Continue reading Show character growth with this 4 step outline
I’ve encountered a lot of writing feedback over the years. Feedback that’s good, bad, or cocktail of both — from the 15 workshops I joined in college (including my time in the MFA) to my current experiences as a copywriter. I’ve also learned how to get the most out of all that feedback. So this … Continue reading 6 types of writing feedback and what to do with each
Your hero is out of time. They stand alone, with one arm limp and bleeding at their side, and the other shielding their eyes from a blinding light — the villain’s final spell. It spills from the sky, like fiery entrails from a pale gut, and plummets toward the earth. If your hero fails here, … Continue reading There’s more to raising narrative stakes than making big explosions
Good figurative writing is electrifying. It adds beauty and depth to your prose in a way literal language struggles to match. But the challenge of good figurative language is that it doesn’t come from your head — it comes from your gut. You don’t sit there and systematically craft metaphors by analyzing and connecting two … Continue reading How to craft good figurative writing according to Dead Poets Society
As a teenager, I used to drink deep from the well of plot twists. From movies and anime, to comics and novels – I loved nothing more than a reality shattering twist. It’s why my favorite author was Ted Dekker, whose book bios always promised “adrenaline-laced stories with unexpected plot twists.” I ate. It. UP. And … Continue reading How to write a plot twist: 3 Questions to Ask
A baby sleeps in a bundle of blankets on the step of number four, Private Drive. He has black hair, and on his forehead is a lightning bolt scar. Rain falls upon the streets of Derry, Maine – and in the darkness of a gurgling storm drain, there lurks a clown with a white-painted face … Continue reading Unforgettable: How to write imagery your readers will always remember
As writers, we want our work to hold weight — for our characters’ actions, emotions, and desires to resonate with and impact our readers. But how do we make that happen? The most helpful advice, in my experience, has been to: Make the internal become external, and Make the external become internal. Let’s talk about … Continue reading Two ways to add emotional weight to your stories
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