plot-driven vs. character-driven

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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How to Make Turning Points Drive Arcs and Themes

February 11, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Last week, we looked at turning points from the perspective of beat sheets—how to identify them and ensure they’re changing the direction of the story enough to deserve their name. But turning points affect the story in other ways too. Turning points aren’t just about plot twists. (In fact, plot twists come with a warning.) […]

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How to Avoid a Sagging Middle in Our Stories

October 29, 2013 Writing Stuff
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The middle act of our story isn’t about adding page count to drag out the tension and make the story novel-length. And the middle isn’t a delaying tactic before we get to the “good stuff.” Instead, the middle of our story should be the “meat” of the story. Without setting up the obstacles here, any solution in the final act will seem too easy and won’t be as satisfying.

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What Do Your Characters Falsely Believe?

September 26, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Last year, I wrote a series of posts about a fabulous presentation by Michael Hauge on “Using Inner Conflict to Create Powerful Love Stories.” But the teachings I picked up from the presentation went far beyond being applicable only to romance. Blogger extraordinaire Janice Hardy was in the workshop with me, and she wrote a fantastic blog […]

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How to Use Character Flaws to Develop a Plot

April 16, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Last time, we talked about using our characters’ strengths to develop their flaws. But I didn’t get a chance to talk about how we could figure out the matching flaw for a character strength. Many of you are probably familiar with the Myers Briggs test, a well-known test that labels people with a four-letter abbreviation for […]

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Recipe for a Successful Synopsis

February 12, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Whether we’re entering contests or submitting manuscripts to agents or publishers, at some point, most of us need to write a synopsis. Many writers hate writing synopses, but I don’t mind them. At least not anymore. Synopses no longer intimidate me now that I understand what’s supposed to go into them, and just as importantly, […]

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Will Omniscient POV Ever Be Popular Again?

January 22, 2013 Writing Stuff
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My recent post about avoiding “information dumps” prompted a conversation in the comments about omniscient point-of-view (POV) and its use of “telling” rather than “showing.” Serena Yung wanted to know why omniscient POV—and thus, telling rather than showing—are less common now than in the classics. She’s certainly right about omniscient being uncommon in books now. Omniscient […]

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Write Romance? Get Your Beat Sheet Here!

November 1, 2012 Writing Stuff
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NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—write a 50K word novel during November) starts today, and while I plan to continue blogging throughout NaNo, I wanted to make sure I gave you something good to keep you happy during my crazy month. *smile* Of course, whether or not you’d define today’s post as anything good might depend […]

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Michael Hauge’s Workshop: Combining Emotional Journeys and External Plots

August 21, 2012 Writing Stuff
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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing tips from Michael Hauge’s presentation at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference. First we looked at how to make sure our love (or romantic interest) stories didn’t fall prey to a lame “love at first sight” relationship. Then we talked about how to show that our characters really are the […]

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