Keeping it Fresh

How to Write a Book

When you’re writing a long novel, sometimes as a writer you feel that you are getting stuck in a rut, that your prose has become repetitious, so it is important to find little ways to vary your work.

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, […]

Making Better Magic Systems, Lesson 1

making better magic systems lesson 1

The most popular books and movies of all time all have one thing in common: They transport audiences better than other books and movies in their genre. Usually, as in films like Avatar or books like Lord of the Rings or Dune, the tale transports you into another time and place. But the tale also transports its audience emotionally. In short, whatever emotion […]

How to Get in Your Reader’s Way

When the movie Avatar came out, I went to see it on opening day at a theater that was nearly empty.  I predicted in my kick for that day that the movie would be a blockbuster and possibly become the bestselling science fiction movie of all time. Why?  Because the acting was superb?  Because the […]

Hit the Gas

When your work begins to pay off, don’t spend your time in celebration or take a vacation. It’s time to “hit the gas.” In the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing a lot of good news from writing friends. They’re selling books and short stories, winning awards, and so on. But often in the past, […]

The Loneliness Problem

I often look for similarities in great stories to see what works. One aspect that I see very often is that powerful stories resolve “the loneliness problem.” Normally, we are never told that our protagonist is lonely, but it’s there in the background: Scrooge is a miserly old man in a musty house. Harry Potter […]

Be Double-Minded

The Apostle James warned that “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” For characters, being double-minded is a good thing. A “double-minded” person has the quality of duality. That means that he is unstable, and the reader can never be quite sure what he will do under certain circumstances. Given this, the character’s […]

Be Honest

A story needs to be honest. Now, that isn’t quite the same as saying that a story must be true. Obviously when we are writing fiction, we are basically telling lies in order to enlighten and entertain. So fiction stories aren’t true. Yet in order for a story to work, there must be a good […]