Close

story structure

NaNo Wrap-Up: How to Move Forward

NaNo Winner badge with text: Now What?

Whether we won NaNoWriMo or not, we survived November, and I want to take a moment to gasp—er, breathe. After everything that went wrong with my month, winning feels like a miracle. So let’s talk about how we can move forward from any draft, NaNo or not.

Pin It

December 2, 2014

Read More

NaNo Prep: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

Screenshot of a blank Scrivener project with text: Are You Ready to Start Drafting?

It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, when thousands of writers will try to cram 50,000 words into a 30-day deadline. If you’re doing NaNo and anything like me, you might be freaking out a little as November nears. Although this is my third year with NaNo, this will be my first time doing it “for really-real.”

Pin It

October 16, 2014

Read More

Are You an Expert? How Writing Changes Our Brain

Fingers on a piano with text: What Makes an Expert?

Recently, an interesting article discussed research on the brains of writers. One important finding seemed to match research in other areas, namely that experienced people think differently from those just learning the ropes. Being an expert isn’t just about knowing more.

Pin It

August 19, 2014

Read More

Building a Character Arc: Start at the End

Train tracks ending on a beach with text: Want a Strong Arc? Start at The End

As I mentioned with the worksheet I shared last week, it’s often easier to work backward when we’re framing our story. At the very least, knowing the ending often makes it easier to see our character’s arc.

Pin It

July 17, 2014

Read More

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.

Pin It

May 15, 2014

Read More

When Should We Skip a Scene in Our Story?

Boulder in a river with text: Every Scene Needs Obstacles

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?

Pin It

May 8, 2014

Read More

How to Raise the Stakes in Our Story

Stairs going up with text: Raising the Stakes in Our Story

“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 […]

Pin It

May 6, 2014

Read More

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 […]

Pin It

February 11, 2014

Read More