“In the three decades since I discovered The Hero with a Thousand Faces, it has continued to fascinate and inspire me. Joseph Campbell peers through centuries and shows us that we are all connected by a basic need to hear stories and understand ourselves. As a book, it is wonderful to read; as illumination...
This guest post is from Jane K. Cleland, author of Mastering Suspense, Structure, & Plot: How to Writing Gripping Stories That Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats, the award-winning Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, and four nonfiction books. Cleland chairs the Black Orchid Novella Award, one of the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards, granted...
Light-bulb moments. Aha moments. Flashes of recognition. Revelations. Call them whatever you like. I like to think of them as clicks. In the writing life, the best kind of click is that moment something makes you realize exactly what’s been missing from the not-quite-right scene you’ve been working on. Or the instant you put...
If you haven’t yet read, met, or followed the career of Chuck Wendig, you’re in for a treat. I’ve had the great pleasure of following Chuck’s blog at terribleminds.com for a couple of years now, and the writing advice he offers is some of the best—as well as some of the grittiest, most honest,...
The best way to travel the length of your story is to grab hold of the throughline—the driving force of the book—and refuse to let go. Understand the throughline of your novel by studying these examples.
I was reading through some of our older science fiction titles, and I came upon Worlds of Wonder by David Gerrold (published in 2001). As I was flipping through the book, I read an opening line that intrigued me: “All writing is list-making. Nothing more. The trick is knowing what to put next on...
Here at Writer’s Digest (and despite the There Are No Rules moniker of this blog), we talk a lot about doing things by the book—from understanding grammatical and structural writing rules, to following submission guidelines, to otherwise conducting yourself like a pro. And that’s why we had so much fun putting together the latest...
Every writer knows crafting a great story revolves around plot–one of the essential elements of storytelling. But do you know what exactly plot is? In the following excerpt from The Nighttime Novelist, author Joseph Bates explains what plot is and gives examples of common plot problems. What is Plot? Plot begins with a big-picture...
One of the most common plot problems writers face is mistaking minor characters and subplots for the main character and primary plot. In the following excerpt, Joseph Bates, author of The Nighttime Novelist, discusses overactive or inactive characters and subplots and how they can impact your story. Overactive or Inactive Supporting Characters If in...
What’s the key to plotting a hit book? Well, just ask William Bernhardt, who hit The New York Times bestseller list with his Ben Kincaid series. As Bernhardt revealed in his CraftFest session “Plotting the Bestselling Thriller”: 1. Plot is the writer’s choice of events to tell the story of the character’s progression toward...
To make characters seem real, you need to tap into what drives them. Use this foolproof method to bring the emotion of your story to life.
by David Corbett
Most of the time, we want to balance our scenes using dialogue, action and narrative to engage readers at an emotional level and keep them hooked. Here's how to do that.
by Gloria Kempton
Structural problems can sink a novel. Let’s look at 10 common plot problems and how to quickly fix them.
by Elizabeth Sims
Don’t be afraid to make things hard on your characters. You should always come up with several different problems to choose from. Here are 3 ways to do that.
by Victoria Lynn Schmidt
Here are 4 quick exercises to make sure your characters speak to readers (and agents).
In his session “The Psychology of Character Motivation,” Edgar-nominated author D.P. Lyle, MD, shared this invaluable exercise for developing your characters’ motivations as your story unfolds.
by Jessica Strawser, reporting from ThrillerFest 2010 (New York City)
Analysis reveals there are three steps that Stephen King invariably employs to create suspense. Learn what they are and how to apply them to your work.
by William Cane
In this excerpt from 179 Ways to Save a Novel, author Peter Selgin discusses ways to defeat the writer's sworn enemy: the cliche.
How do you follow up a smash hit like The Time Traveler’s Wife? For artist and author Audrey Niffenegger, it all comes down to embracing the freedom to create—on your own terms.
by Jessica Strawser
Creating characters’ backstories before you start writing is crucial because you’ll want to determine each one’s past experiences and the repercussions these experiences will have on your story before you begin. Here's a close look at the different ways you can introduce backstory.
by Rachel Ballon
The Life, Art and Business of Fiction
We’ve all been there: basking in the glow of a finished manuscript, only to read it over and realize something is wrong with the plot. Finding ourselves unable to identify the problem only makes matters worse. But take heart! Here are some common plot gaffes and sensible ways to revise without starting over.
Read "Principles of Building of a Story" from From First Draft to Finished Novel.
Everything you need to get creative, start writing, and get published!
Excerpted from The Children's Writer's Reference, Berthe Amoss and Eric Suben talk about the most important ingredient in a book plot.