plot-driven vs. character-driven

Should Our Protagonist Be in the First Scene?

February 17, 2015 Writing Stuff
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Most stories open with the protagonist on page one, but every once in a while, our story seems to work best if we start with another character. If we understand why the protagonist usually works best as the point-of-view character for the first page, we might be able to remake those exceptions into stronger openings.

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How to Create Characters Worth Reading

January 27, 2015 Writing Stuff
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There’s no shortage of blog posts about what makes characters likable to readers. Yet readers still read and enjoy stories with unlikable characters. Why? Let’s take a look at what options we have for creating characters that compel readers to keep turning pages.

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How to Use Needs and Goals to Appeal to Readers

January 15, 2015 Writing Stuff
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When we first start learning about writing, we’re often faced with a whole new language. Words like “beats,” “tension,” and “conflict” take on new meaning within the writing world. Such it is with the words “needs” and “goals.” Once we enter the writing world, those words become infused with extra meanings related to plots and character arcs.

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What Creates a Story’s Theme?

December 18, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Many stories that stick with us over time resonate with some aspect of our life, belief, or worldview. Often, the theme of the story creates that resonance. If we understand what creates a story’s theme, we might be able to improve the resonance of our stories.

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What Makes a Story’s Black Moment a Black Moment?

December 16, 2014 Writing Stuff
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The Black Moment is usually one of the most emotional sections of the story, so it can be difficult to pull together. If we read stories (or watch movies), we’ve seen this beat play out endless times, so we probably understand the plot point more than we may think. But let’s take a closer look and see if we can learn something new.

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Plotting Tip: One Simple Step to Ensure Our Story Works

December 9, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Either plot events affect the character and the story, or they don’t. One style is common in storytelling, and one might sink our writing. If we understand the difference, we can learn what to look out for and know how to fix any problems.

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The Psychology of Emotions — Guest: Kassandra Lamb

November 18, 2014 Writing Stuff
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We usually want to keep the reader immersed in the story and keep readers’ interest by engaging their emotions. But when we understand the psychology driving emotions, we might be able to make those emotions more realistic or recognize when there’s a disconnect on a character’s emotional journey.

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Ask Jami: How Many Characters Is “Too Many”?

October 21, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Kim wants to know if there’s an optimal number of characters to include in a novel. That’s a great question because we want to hit the balance between the claustrophobia of too few characters and the confusion of too many characters.

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NaNo Prep: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

October 16, 2014 Writing Stuff
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It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, when thousands of writers will try to cram 50,000 words into a 30-day deadline. If you’re doing NaNo and anything like me, you might be freaking out a little as November nears. Although this is my third year with NaNo, this will be my first time doing it “for really-real.”

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Why No Advice Is Perfect: Character Emotions

September 30, 2014 Writing Stuff
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There’s never going to be a ‘one size fits all’ guideline for any aspect of writing. Every story is different, so some advice doesn’t apply to us. What’s right for one genre might not be right for another genre. Ditto for the point of view of the story. Or the characters. Or the plot.

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