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plot-driven vs. character-driven

7 Storytelling Lessons from Sports

Basketball, baseball bat, and football helmet with text: 7 Storytelling Lessons from Sports

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 […]

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June 24, 2014

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How Can We Show a Character’s Internal Journey?

Trees growing over road with text: Our Character's Internal Journey

I’m a big fan of Michael Hauge’s approach to characters. His insights helped me figure out how to match a character’s internal journey to the external plot. This is often tricky, though, so let’s go deeper into how characters change.

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May 15, 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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Can Genre Fiction Be “Art”?

Piet Mondrian's "Composition with Red Blue Yellow" with text: Can Genre Fiction Be "Art"?

We have a hard time defining literary fiction. Society gives us assumptions on the relative value of genre vs. literary fiction, but those assumptions miss the point. Assigning value judgments to the labels “literary” and “genre” doesn’t make sense because preferences are subjective opinions and there’s no “better” or “worse.”

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April 17, 2014

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Literary vs. Genre Fiction: Which Do You Prefer?

Rustic gate opening to a wildflower field with text: Our Reading Habits: Do You Believe in Fate?

Reading is subjective. The stories some of us hate, others love. Personally, I have no interest in non-genre stories. This is not a sign of my inability to think deeply, but rather a personal preference. Mary Buckham’s ideas about the differences between literary and commercial fiction made me wonder about this preference.

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April 15, 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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