tension

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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Ask Jami: How Can We Make a Story Believable?

December 11, 2014 Writing Stuff
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As soon as immersion is broken for a reader, their suspension of disbelief is at risk, so we don’t want unbelievable aspects of our story to kick readers out of the story midway. When it comes to believability, issues could crop up within the plot, characters, or worldbuilding, and we have to find the right balance within each of those areas.

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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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Writing Struggles: Waiting for News

October 2, 2014 Random Musings
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Most of yesterday was spent with me biting my nails while waiting for news on my brother’s brain surgery. But that brought to mind how hard waiting can be, so I want to take a minute to recognize all the ways we wait, as writers, and hope that things beyond our control go our way. Believe me, I feel your pain. *smile*

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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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When Should We Skip a Scene in Our Story?

May 8, 2014 Writing Stuff
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Every story beat or turning point scene—when events affect the main story question, conflict, or goal—needs to be included in a story. But what about non-turning-point scenes? How can we tell when to include them and when we can skip ahead?

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How to Raise the Stakes in Our Story

May 6, 2014 Writing Stuff
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“Raise the stakes throughout your story.” Advice like this is often given as though we all know what the phrase means. And on some level, we do know what it means: make the situation “worse.” But there are many ways to make a situation worse. As Serena Yung asked in a comment: “Would you define a […]

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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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How to Strengthen Emotions in Our Writing

December 12, 2013 Writing Stuff
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Last time, we discussed ways to use The Emotion Thesaurus to avoid problems like telling instead of showing, head-hopping away from the point-of-view character, and clichéd writing. The fourth issue we touched on was avoiding flat or unemotional writing. This last one is a bigger issue than can be summed up in a couple of paragraphs. Whole […]

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