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Story Tropes: What’s the Subtext?

Book open to a blurry page with text: The Subtext of Tropes: What's the Hidden Message?

A story’s meaning and hidden messages often lurk in the subtext. Subtext flows throughout our plots, characters, themes, genres…and story tropes. Depending on how we use and twist story tropes, we might create very different messages for readers.

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August 1, 2017

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Story Tropes: Lazy or Helpful?

Note on top of rose petals with text: Can Story Tropes Be Good?

Every genre and medium of storytelling uses tropes, and they often have a bad reputation—for good reason. All too frequently, they can indicate lazy storytelling or worldbuilding. But they don’t have to be a bad thing.

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July 27, 2017

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The Most Important Question in Storytelling: “Why?”

Question mark on white background with text: Character Motivations: Give Me a "Why?"

A common problem—even in traditionally published books—is Missing Motivations. A character’s goal can feel irrelevant if readers don’t understand why they have that goal. Or a character might seem stupid or unlikable if readers don’t know why they’re acting a certain way.

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January 26, 2017

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How to Make Our Story Feel Meaningful

Three Sister mountain formation with text: Strengthening Our Story's Echoes

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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January 12, 2017

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How Does Our Writing Affect Readers?

Snowy evening with text: Stories Are... Magical Time

Given world events, many people want an escape right now. Our writing—our stories—can give readers a breather, a chance to recover, an opportunity to regroup and build up strength or defenses. The crazier the world, the more the world needs our stories.

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December 22, 2016

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5 Ways to Discover & Develop Our Voice

Microphone against a blank wall with text: Strengthening Your Voice

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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December 8, 2016

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Character Arc Development: Is There a Best Approach?

Person's shadow on the beach with text: Developing a Character's Arc

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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August 18, 2016

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What Does Your Genre’s Theme Promise to Readers?

Field of green grass with text: What's Your Genre's Promise?

Theme is one of those concepts that can be hard to understand, but by understanding themes, we’ll better satisfy our readers. In the recent debate about the romance genre’s requirement for a happy ending, the controversy comes down to themes, believe it or not. *smile*

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March 24, 2016

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Revision Technique: Why Did You Do That?

A knight chess piece on a board with text: Can You Justify Your Writing Choices?

Everything we write should be intentional—the words we use, the events we emphasize, the emotions we evoke, the themes we build, etc. But when our writing doesn’t match our intentions, we might need trusted feedback that forces us to justify our choices.

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April 28, 2015

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