The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 3: The First Act

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 3: The First Act   Once you’ve hooked the reader, your next task is to put your early chapters to work introducing your characters, settings, and stakes. The first 20-25% of the book comprises your setup. At first glance, this can seem like a tremendous chunk of story to devote to introductions, … More The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 3: The First Act

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook Readers are like fish. Smart fish. Fish who know authors are out to get them, reel them in, and capture them for the rest of their seagoing lives. But, like any self-respecting fish, readers aren’t caught easily. They aren’t about to surrender themselves to the lure of your story unless … More The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 1: Why Should Authors Care?

  The Secrets of Story Structure   If there’s just one thing that matters to your success as a writer, it’s story structure. Story structure is what allows authors to create stories that work every single time. Story structure is what allows you to quickly diagnose and remedy plot problems. The fear that story structure … More The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 1: Why Should Authors Care?

Structuring Your Scenes, Pt. 11: Variations on the Sequel

Structuring Your Scenes, Pt. 11: Variations on the Sequel   Sequels*, even more than scenes, offer all kinds of flexibility. In large part, this flexibility is what can make sequelsdifficult to quantify in stories. Unlike the scene, sequels can be so subtle they blend right into the scenery. This can sometimes lead authors to believe sequels aren’t as important … More Structuring Your Scenes, Pt. 11: Variations on the Sequel

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 9: Options for Dilemmas in a Sequel

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 9: Options for Dilemmas in a Sequel   If the first part of your sequel*—the reaction—appeals to your readers’ emotions, the second part is all about the intellect. Once your character’s first-blush emotional response to the previous scene’s disaster has passed, he will have to get down to the all-important business of thinking about … More Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 9: Options for Dilemmas in a Sequel

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 7: The Three Building Blocks of the Sequel

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 7: The Three Building Blocks of the Sequel   The sequel*—the second half of the Scene—sometimes gets shortchanged. But it is every bit as important as the scene, since it allows characters to process the events of the scene and figure out their next move. The sequel is the reaction half of the action/reaction pairing. … More Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 7: The Three Building Blocks of the Sequel

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 6: Variations on the Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 6: Variations on the Scene   If writers have one complaint about the whole notion of story structure, it’s that it makes them feel boxed in. But the great thing about structure is that it provides a solid framework for your story, while still presenting endless possibilities. This is just as true of … More Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 6: Variations on the Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 4: Options for Conflict in a Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 4: Options for Conflict in a SceneSHARE Once you’ve established your character’s scene* goal, the fun begins in earnest! Conflict is what story is all about. Without it, the character would achieve his goal in minutes, all the loose ends would instantly be tied off with a pretty red bow, and the story … More Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 4: Options for Conflict in a Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 2: The Three Building Blocks of the Scene

Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 2: The Three Building Blocks of the SceneilLike story itself, each Scene* follows a specific structure. At its heart, the arc of the Scene is the same as that of the larger story structure exhibited over the course of the book: 1. Beginning=Hook 2. Middle=Development 3. End=Climax When we look at the … More Structuring Your Story’s Scenes, Pt. 2: The Three Building Blocks of the Scene

How to Evoke Reader Emotions With “Surprisingness”

How to Evoke Reader Emotions With “Surprisingness”   Have you ever read a book for a second, third, even tenth time—just to experience the emotion the story evokes? Clearly the elements of the story aren’t a surprise. You know exactly what to expect. If so, you were benefiting from an author who knew how to … More How to Evoke Reader Emotions With “Surprisingness”