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Physical expressions of emotion can be problematic, even though they’re justified by the “Show, don’t tell” mandate. But there are often better, more artful ways to give us insights into the interiority of your POV characters.
An expert writer of stories needs to have some mastery of psychic distance—the distance the narrator stands from a character’s emotions, thoughts, and perceptions. No matter what viewpoint or person or verb tense you’re using for your story, your narration will sometimes go very close to character perception and sometimes stay quite distant.
Is your story’s conflict gripping readers? Not all conflict is created equal. Some creates tension; some doesn’t. And in fact, conflict isn’t the only way to create tension.
Sometimes, the main source of tension in a story comes from a lingereing “urgent story question” that nags at the reader. You should be conscious of your story’s USQs so that you can make the most of them and create a more gripping story.
The old writing adage of “show, don’t tell” is good advice, but it can occasionally get writers in trouble. Good writers sometimes fall prey to hyperdetailing–giving excessive description without serving the story.
How do you create a dynamic, consequential scene–one that actually moves the character? You use beats within the scene to create disturbances and shifts. This analysis can help your revision; it’s all about bringing character arc to the scene level.
Character arc (aka the internal plot) is essential for a satisfying story structure. You might have tension on every page and you might follow what you think is a winning structure, but if you don’t have a character arc, your story will fail to resonate with readers. Learn the key concepts for character arcs here.
The beginning has two roles: a structural one and a functional one. Here, I present a way of thinking about the first act’s plot points that may help you reconcile the need to hook the reader with the need to portray the so-called “normal world” of the story.
Can’t make it to any writing retreats, conferences, or residencies? Then make your own. Here are the four steps for making a DIY writing retreat.