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Planning Your Story

Story planning tips and advice. Sample topics: using beat sheets, developing arcs, techniques for those who write by the seat of their pants, deciding on story ideas, etc.

How to Find the Start of Our Story

Plant sprouting with text: Finding the Start of Our Story

A lot goes into deciding how to begin our story. We have to introduce the characters, the story, and the setting. We have to make it interesting, not confusing, or not accidentally misleading. Etc., etc., etc. If we think about it too much, we might seize up and not write […]

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September 3, 2013

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Do Beat Sheets Lead to Formulaic Writing?

Page of math formulas with text: Are Beat Sheets Too Formulaic?

Last week, Slate.com ran an article about how Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat book is ruining movies. According to that post’s author, “Snyder’s beat sheet has taken over Hollywood screenwriting. … Intentionally or not, it’s become a formula—a formula that threatens the world of original screenwriting as we know it.” I’ve […]

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July 23, 2013

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A Pantser’s Guide to Beat Sheets

Map with text: A Pantser's Guide to Beat Sheets

I’ve mentioned many times that I write by the seat of my pants. I’ve also expressed my love of beat sheets—by creating several of them. I have beat sheets that focus on plot points, another focused on character arcs, and yet another focused on romance arcs. Wait, someone who writes […]

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July 9, 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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Can Story Themes Help Pantsers Write?

Landscape with Magnifying Loupe in foreground with text: Themes: Our Story's Big Picture

My favorite blogger, Janice Hardy, had another great post last week. This time she talked about how writers can develop their theme. She shared three tips for understanding how themes work in our stories. One of her tips struck me—a confirmed pantser—as a great way to keep our pantsed stories […]

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February 19, 2013

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The Point of a Scene: Thinking in Concepts

Pencil connected to a light bulb with text: How Detailed Do Our Ideas Need to Be?

A couple of months ago, I read a blog post that forever changed how I approached drafting scenes. That probably sounds melodramatic, but it’s true. We’ve often talked about the differences between plotters and pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants), and how as a die-hard-and-happy-about-it pantser, […]

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November 20, 2012

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Write Romance? Get Your Beat Sheet Here!

Drawing of plot arc with text: Romance Writers--What's Your Arc?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month—write a 50K word novel during November) starts today, and while I plan to continue blogging throughout NaNo, I wanted to make sure I gave you something good to keep you happy during my crazy month. *smile* Of course, whether or not you’d define today’s post […]

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November 1, 2012

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Michael Hauge’s Workshop: Are These Characters the Perfect Match?

Two matched puzzle pieces with text: Find the Perfect Match...for your Character

Last time I shared tips from Michael Hauge’s presentation at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference about how to make romance (or love interest) relationships feel deep and not superficial. Most of us have probably read books where, at the end of the story, we didn’t trust the couple to […]

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August 14, 2012

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