Avoid sentimentality

Flannery O’Connor says that sentimentality is a “distortion of sentiment.” That distortion can occur in one of two ways. Learn about those distortions and then avoid them through the 7 remedies presented here.

A story with momentum makes me want to know what’s going to happen next, and makes me care about the characters, objectives, conflicts, and action.

Kristen Roupenian’s “Cat Person” handles character interiority masterfully. Here are 10 tips we can glean from the story.

Once the author becomes visible, the enchantment of the story dissolves. The author is the creator of a story, but the author should never be a part of the story. The author is the man behind the curtain. Reveal the man behind the curtain and the Wizard of Oz narrative dies. What sorts of things reveal the author? Here are 12.

What if you want to write a story other than the redemption tale? The hero’s journey and a slew of other plot outlines will provide little help to you because built into their structural guide is a latter section of the story that is exactly what Macbeth isn’t—an ultimate sacrifice, followed by an epiphany-induced power surge, and a final push toward a (spiritual) full potential.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Your story is about your protagonist. That is, the protagonist is the star. By definition. Even if you have a very engaging and sympathetic antagonist, the reader identifies more with your protagonist’s struggle and desire. If that’s not the case, you have the wrong protagonist.

That’s the first thing to keep in mind when dreaming up and/or depicting your antagonist: the protagonist is the star of the show. The antagonist’s purpose is to serve the author’s goals for the protagonist.

Robert Olen Butler describes 5 ways the people express emotions. Writers can use these expressions to help build better character interiority. Here, his 5 expressions and an accompanying journal exercise.