plot-driven vs. character-driven

Building a Character Arc: Start at the End

July 17, 2014 Writing Stuff
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As I mentioned with the worksheet I shared last week, it’s often easier to work backward when we’re framing our story. At the very least, knowing the ending often makes it easier to see our character’s arc.

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Blogiversary Winners & a New Worksheet!

July 10, 2014 Writing Stuff
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I can’t make everyone a winner in my Blogiversary contest, but I can give everyone a gift by releasing a new worksheet. Yay! A couple of my readers asked me to take a look a John Truby’s work and see if I could come up with a worksheet based on his teachings.

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7 Storytelling Lessons from Sports

June 24, 2014 Writing Stuff
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At their essence, most sports have a lot in common with storytelling. There are “good guys” (the home team) and “bad guys” (the visiting team), and they battle for who comes out on top. The audience becomes emotionally involved and roots for those they identify with to succeed, and we all wish for a happy […]

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6 Steps to Balance Your Editing: Plot vs. Characters

June 17, 2014 Writing Stuff
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After we’ve finished drafting our story and the warm fuzzies of that accomplishment have faded, it’s time to buckle down for the next step: revising. Many of us aren’t sure where to start with revisions, even when we know something is wrong with a story. When I help authors edit their books, they sometimes mention […]

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How Can We Show a Character’s Internal Journey?

May 15, 2014 Writing Stuff
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I’m a big fan of Michael Hauge’s approach to characters. His insights helped me figure out how to match a character’s internal journey to the external plot. This is often tricky, though, so let’s go deeper into how characters change.

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How to Make a Forbidden Romance Work

May 1, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Today’s “Ask Jami” came from a comment on my Romance Beat Sheet post. Nick wanted to know how a story’s structure would change if the romance is forbidden. Ooo…

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What’s the Perfect Job for Our Characters?

April 29, 2014 Writing Stuff
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If we write our story well, every aspect of the story will contribute to the overall picture and create an impression for the reader. There aren’t any unimportant details in a well-written story. And that means the careers for our characters shouldn’t be an afterthought either.

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Can Genre Fiction Be “Art”?

April 17, 2014 Writing Stuff
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We have a hard time defining literary fiction. Society gives us assumptions on the relative value of genre vs. literary fiction, but those assumptions miss the point. Assigning value judgments to the labels “literary” and “genre” doesn’t make sense because preferences are subjective opinions and there’s no “better” or “worse.”

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Literary vs. Genre Fiction: Which Do You Prefer?

April 15, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Reading is subjective. The stories some of us hate, others love. Personally, I have no interest in non-genre stories. This is not a sign of my inability to think deeply, but rather a personal preference. Mary Buckham’s ideas about the differences between literary and commercial fiction made me wonder about this preference.

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Building a Theme through Character Arcs

April 3, 2014 Writing Stuff
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We normally create stories where the point—the theme—is in line with our worldview. But it’s not unusual for our characters to hold opposite beliefs, even our protagonists. At least to start. And their story journey is often where our theme lies.

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