Writing Fiction

10 Things Shakespeare Can Teach Us About Writing Thrillers

Conspiracy. Murder. Politics. Love. Sex. Ghosts. Pirates. Thrillers and the works of William Shakespeare may have more in common than you’d think. And, as author A.J. Hartley proved in his session “Cues From Shakespeare, the First Thriller Writer,” there’s a lot the bard can teach scribes about storytelling.

How to Create Tension Through Misdirection

A car engine breaks the stillness of the night … the smell of seaweed intrudes on an afternoon chess game … an unopened letter slips behind couch cushions. These are what we might call “plot-hypers,” in that they add elements of uncertainty and tension. Here's how to add them to your...

Stormwriting: What It Is and Why You Should Try It

Now you’re to the point where you’re ready to start crafting your book. You’ve done a bit of brainstorming, and perhaps you’ve done some writing. But there’s something about brainstorming that’s only partly right. After years of writing, teaching writing, and talking with writers, I’ve come to realize that brainstorming is...

4 Ways to Motivate Characters and Plot

Some of your characters will change during the course of your story—let’s call them changers. Others—stayers—will not change significantly in personality or outlook, but their motivations may nonetheless change as the story progresses from situation to situation. Both changers and stayers can have progressive motivations. Confused? Don’t be; it’s simpler than...