Writing Powerful Scenes, Part 3: Setting

Though a scene can have a dozen different types of virtues, it must take place in some type of location, and truly unforgettable scenes don’t often come together when the setting is tepid or common. Use Imagery Now, a scene comes to life when the writer imbues it with enough detail to convince the reader […]

Writing Powerful Scenes, Part 2: Beginning with Character

Historically, a “scene” was a set on a play. It consisted of the setting in which a dramatic exchange took place. It’s not a coincidence that “scene” and “seen” sound exactly alike. But as novelists, we don’t necessarily have the same kinds of “scenes” that occur in a play. A scene could, for example, consist […]

4 Ways to Write a More Cathartic Story

A lot goes into a successful novel, from compelling characters to an engaging plot, solid pacing, and a vibrant world. However, none of these things are quite as important as catharsis. If you’ve never heard of catharsis before, this is a Greek term that describes the feeling of emotional satisfaction you get at the end […]

Writing Powerful Scenes, Part 1

A story is made up of both large components, such as try/fail cycles and denouements, and small components, such as scenes and sentences. In order for your story to be strong, you need to write strong scenes. I’m in the process of taking a screenplay from outline to first draft, and so I’m a bit […]

How to Write and Raise the Stakes More Effectively

Writers are repeatedly advised to “raise the stakes.” Stakes are often defined as what the character has to lose. But when you understand—more accurately—the relationship between plot and stakes, you can create them more easily. And when you understand—more accurately—how they actually work, you can raise them by using the methods in this article. How […]

Finding Your Talent

Every writer has his or her own talents and strengths. Don’t give up on your writing. Very often as a writer, I will find myself reading a tale by another author and saying, “My, I wish that I had her talent.” I’m sure that most of you feel the same at times. I know that […]

Writing Great Action Scenes

At a conference some time ago I was on a panel with some fellow thriller writers. During the Q & A, we got this question from the floor: How can I learn to write a good action scene? I answered first. I told the questioner that it’s what happens inside the character that’s the key, […]

3 Tips that Strengthen Middles

While writing the middle of a story usually isn’t as tricky as the beginning, for many authors, the middle can start to sag if they aren’t careful. Previously we went over three problems that come up with middles. Today we are back to add three tips to keep your middle interesting. 1. Vary Your Story […]

Dos and Don’ts for Writing Viewpoint Voice

Many readers and editors state that a strong voice immediately draws them into a story, and one of the most important voices will come from your viewpoint character. But even when you’ve developed their personality and voice, it can still be tricky to actually get them on the page. Here are nine dos and don’ts […]

3 Problems that Come Up with Middles

For many people, the middle of the novel is the biggest challenge. Writers usually know when they’ve got a good start, and they have months to think about how to create a great climax. But what do you do with all of that stuff in between? Thankfully, by the time you’re into the middle, you’ve […]