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.
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.
Do you take us to a point of conflict and then, rather than allow us to see it play out and get all worried about the outcome, you summarize it or just resolve it quickly? Stretching tension means you lengthen the scene but also make it more gripping. Don’t push the action off-stage or rush through it. Linger on the most tense moments of the story to maximize engagement.
Causality governs story events. You want your story to feel authentic, believable, and seamless. You don’t want any of the events or reactions within the story to draw attention to themselves. They must be earned. This article examines common failures to earn story developments.
To avoid flat dialogue scenes, learn to triangulate the characters’ interaction with a lower-order goal.
“Escalating complications” is my preferred term for what’s commonly known as “rising action.” What is rising action? And how can you use it to maintain reader engagement in the middles of your scenes and stories? We take a lesson from iguanas and snakes here.
Is it better to format character thoughts with quote marks or italics? I say neither. No special formatting is necessary to signify character thinking. You just need some solid narration.
Should you use synonyms for “said”? Some writing advice claims “said is dead”; others look disparagingly upon “saidisms,” the fancier cousins of “said.” Here’s the rule of thumb.
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.
There is a distinction between author, narrator, and character.
The author creates the story.
The narrator tells the story.
The character lives the story.
These are three distinct entities, which exist on different planes.