Strong Act Structure Creates Stronger Stories

In storytelling structure, people use the term “act” rather broadly and vaguely. Most in the writing community break stories down into three acts: beginning, middle, and end. But if you asked many writers what an act actually is, they would probably give you blank stares.  Despite acts being key structural units in stories, they don’t […]

The Value of a Logline

A logline, or log line, is a simple description of a story that is only a sentence long.  It boils the story down to its essence. Unlike the tagline, which is created as a marketing hook, the logline gives the basic premise of the story. Here are three loglines for three famous movies: Luke Skywalker joins […]

The Value of a Tagline

A tagline is a single sentence that describes a film or book in a defining way. Choosing a tagline early can help you write your story with the proper tone. When writing a screenplay or a book, one of the first things that a writer may do is create a tagline. This is a single line […]

How to Fix Flat, Two-Dimensional Characters

When people say that a character is “flat” or “two-dimensional,” they’re typically just saying that the character isn’t interesting. And uninteresting characters are a plague on a story. Let’s look at a few techniques to make characters interesting, round, and three-dimensional. Desires, Wants, and Emptiness Nothing brings a character to life faster than a deep […]

4 Tips for Writing a Positive Relationship

Writing a relationship plotline is key for almost any story. Most narratives will feature a relationship that arcs positively through the book–whether the characters are love interests, friends, family members, allies, coworkers, or what have you. While it’s possible to highlight a negative relationship, audiences typically crave a meaningful one that brings the characters closer […]

Are You Writing a Book or a Movie?

Writing a book requires a different approach than writing a movie. Each medium has different strengths, particularly with viewpoint. In his book on screenwriting, George Lucas briefly discusses the difference in approach between writing a movie or a book. Since this question lies at the heart of so many problems that I see with new […]

What Makes a Great Story?

What defines “good” writing when it comes to a story? That’s a question that I have to ask time and again as I’m judging contest entries. You see, there are different kinds of “good,” and there are different levels of “goodness.” One writer has a gift for plotting, another a gift for pithy metaphors. So […]

Writing a Christmas Cozy Mystery

Is it too early to think about Christmas? Not if you want to write a Christmas story . . . or a Christmas cozy murder mystery. Today we have cozy mystery writer Elizabeth S. Craig with us to share her experience with and tips for writing one. For at least five or six years, I’ve […]

Opening Your Story with Conflict to Hook Readers

Open your story with conflict to hook readers and keep them reading. Every story should get to a significant conflict quickly. Conflict should be on the first (or second) page. There are many ways to hook a reader who opens your book–a great cover, a catchy title, luscious descriptions on the back cover, an endearing […]

Haunting Your Character with a Ghost (or Wound)

In storytelling, a character’s ghost is a past, significant (and often traumatic) event that shaped his worldview in a thematic way. It prepares the character arc and works as a motivator. Choose the appropriate ghost for your character and learn how to reveal it to the audience. It’s finally the month of Halloween! And if […]