plot-driven vs. character-driven

How to Make Our Story Feel Meaningful

January 12, 2017 Writing Stuff
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Story is different from plot, but sometimes we can have lots of plot ideas, and we might not be sure if—or how—we can pull those together into something that feels like a story. Let’s get some tips…

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5 Ways to Discover & Develop Our Voice

December 8, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Many people have tried to identify what goes into creating our voice, but it’s a hard thing to define. We often just know it when we see it. Voice is personal—not just for writers, but also for readers. Yet we can identify—and strengthen—the 5 elements that go into our voice.

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Are You Ready for NaNoWriMo?

October 25, 2016 Writing Stuff
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It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, and if you’re anything like me, you might be freaking out a little as November nears. So here are several quick links to posts helping us plan, start, and get unstuck with our story.

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Strengthening Stakes: It’s Not about Going Big

September 27, 2016 Writing Stuff
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A story’s stakes are one element that keeps readers turning pages because they want to see if our characters succeed. At first glance, we might think bigger stakes are better for sucking in readers, but not every story lends themselves to huge stakes. Are “quieter” stories doomed to fail the “page-turner” test?

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Balancing Elements: How Can We Know the Right Amount?

September 15, 2016 Writing Stuff
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I’ve offered several posts here about balancing various elements of our story, but there’s still room for debate because we have to find the right balance for our voice, genre, tone, and style—for our story. That means there is no perfect amount of backstory or description or emotion.

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Character Arc Development: Is There a Best Approach?

August 18, 2016 Writing Stuff
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There are almost an infinite number of ways we can develop our story. As long as we end up with a finished book, our process works. And just like the variety found in the overall writing processes we might use, we have many options for how to come up with our protagonist’s arc as well.

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Story Beginnings: Do You Have Context?

August 11, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Story beginnings are difficult to get right. We have to introduce the characters, the story, the setting, the protagonist’s longing, and show an immediate obstacle that creates a near-term goal. At the same time, we have to avoid confusing readers, and for that, we need context.

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Character Development Is a Two-Edged Sword

May 26, 2016 Writing Stuff
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As writers, we do everything we can to make readers invested in our characters in some way. An invested reader is a happy reader, right?
Well, maybe not. Let’s take a look at the other side of character development.

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Plot Obstacles & Character Agency

May 17, 2016 Writing Stuff
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Ashley asked a question in the comments last week that gets at the heart of strong, proactive characters. Even in literary fiction, characters are usually faced with making choices, and whatever triggers those choices is where we’ll find plot and character agency.

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What’s the Difference between Plot and Story?

May 3, 2016 Writing Stuff
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When we first start off as writers, if someone asks us about our story, we might launch into an overview of our story’s plot. It’s easy to think the plot is what our story is about. But with few exceptions, story isn’t the same as plot.

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