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Why No Advice Is Perfect: Character Emotions

View of sun through broken window with text: Why No Advice Is Perfect

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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September 30, 2014

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Blogiversary Winners & a New Worksheet!

Gift box with text: A Gift for...You! Story Development & Revision Worksheet

I can’t make everyone a winner in my Blogiversary contest, but I can give everyone a gift by releasing a new worksheet. Yay! A couple of my readers asked me to take a look a John Truby’s work and see if I could come up with a worksheet based on his teachings.

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July 10, 2014

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What’s the Perfect Job for Our Characters?

Employee Only sign with text: Finding the Perfect Job (for Our Characters)

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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April 29, 2014

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Building a Theme through Character Arcs

Chalkboard with text: Theme: What Lesson Have You Learned?

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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April 3, 2014

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How to Make Turning Points Drive Arcs and Themes

Road curving through trees with text: Turning Points Drive a Story

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 […]

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February 11, 2014

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Using Conflict to Understand Our Characters

Man screaming with text: Characters & Conflict

All stories need conflict. As agent Donald Maass says, we need tension on every page. But that doesn’t mean our characters should come to fisticuffs on a regular basis. Instead, conflict refers to whatever stands between our characters and what they want. Why does it take them 300 or so […]

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November 19, 2013

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How to Avoid a Sagging Middle in Our Stories

Sagging power pole with text: Have a Sagging Middle?

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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October 29, 2013

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Help for Writers in the WHW Amazing Race!

Rusted out car in the desert with text: Need Help? Check Out Writers Helping Writers

Remember when I mentioned last week that The Bookshelf Muse had become Writers Helping Writers? And how the phenomenal Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi behind the site had two new books coming out this week: The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus? And how they were going to […]

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October 22, 2013

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How to Use Character Flaws to Develop a Plot

Rusted and stained brick wall with text: Flaws Create a Better Story

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 […]

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April 16, 2013

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The Thin Line between Character Strengths and Flaws

A yin-yang style wave with text: When Is a Character Strength a Flaw?

Last time I asked you to share your superpower, that trait—useful or not—that makes you unique. Everyone shared some great stories, although none of us had skills that would land us on Cracked.com’s “Real People with Mind-Blowing Mutant Superpowers” list. *eyes the superpowers that made the list* Maybe that’s a […]

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April 11, 2013

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