Character

Dealing with main characters, antagonists, allies, and all other varieties of characters in your stories.

Earning story events (May AuthorToolBox)

Earning story events means paying attention to three types of context (deep, situational, and immediate) as well as giving the character time to arrive at a response.

Theme Is Not Optional

Some people are wary of crafting or discussing theme, but theme exists in all (good) stories. Here, we examine what theme is, how a story employs it, the effect on readers, and how writers can be intentional about theme.

To Filter or Not to Filter

What is filtering, what’s the rationale for avoiding it, and in what situations might you want to stick with it?

Writing Character Emotion

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.

The Pitfalls of Emotional Body Language in Your Writing

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.

Narrating Deep or Shallow: The Spectrum of Psychic Distance

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. 

The Problem with “Show, Don’t Tell”

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.

Create a Moving Character Arc

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 Two Roles of the Beginning

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.

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