It’s Complicated

Accepting Responsibility for Your Titles

As your protagonist struggles to overcome a problem, in the past I’ve talked about how the protagonist goes through at least two try/fail cycles. Early in the story, in an inciting incident, the protagonist learns that he has a major problem on his hands. He then struggles to resolve the problem at least three times, […]

Turning Points

How to come up with a plot twist

Whenever you have a story that seems too predictable, look for ways to add turning points.  If a character is trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B, figure out how to force him to go to point C first.  If he thinks that he understands someone else’s motivations or goals—say those of a lover or killer—surprise the reader with a twist that casts the story in a new light.

To Plot, or Not to Plot

A lot of writers wonder whether they should plot a book or not. The truth is that the vast majority of bestselling authors do plot out their books, but that isn’t always the case. There are some writers who don’t plot. They’re called “discovery writers,” and they tend to ponder each scene, write it down, […]

Turning Points

In every story there are turning points, moments in time where the characters are forced into a new course of action and thus get unexpected results. Turning points may be simple or complex, mundane or magical. For example, you might have a character who is driving home from work, and he sees police cars on […]


Most of you are familiar with plot charts. You’ve heard of terms like inciting incident, try/fail cycles, climax, and denouement. (If you aren’t familiar with those terms, you might want to look at my book Million Dollar Outlines.) Since the days of Aristotle, folks have been trying to understand how plots work, and depending upon […]