Storytelling

Six Types of Turning Points for Climaxes

Katniss and Peta contemplate eating poisonous berries

Most storytellers know that the climax should be more exciting than the rest of the story. However, many don’t know that climaxes need a critical turning point. Neglecting this turning point is one of the most common mistakes that writers make, and without it, endings … read more »

When to Narrate a Villain’s Point of View

Through a doorway, Barty Crouch Jr kneels by Voldemort's char

Most writers know that their important protagonists should have the lion’s share of viewpoint scenes. However, some stories need another point of view to communicate information the protagonists don’t know. Often, that point of view comes from the primary antagonist. Unfortunately, using a villain’s point … read more »

The One Big Thing That Most Manuscripts Lack

I’ll admit it: my title is pretty sensationalist. But I can’t bring enough attention to this issue. When we’re hired to do content editing, 95% of the manuscripts we look at need significant work in this area. Before we look at their work, most writers have … read more »

Constructing a Compelling Romance

Anna and Kristoff from Disney's Frozen

When done well, romance not only makes stories feel deeper and more meaningful but also gives the audience another reason to turn the page. Unfortunately, it’s easy to jump into writing a romance without thinking it through. And if the romance isn’t setup well, it … read more »

Using Your Conlang Without Ruining Your Story

Octavia Blake from the 100 sits before a fire.

Years back, I wrote some rules for using fake words. Some people grumbled that it banned writers from using conlangs (constructed languages) altogether, and that’s not far from the truth. The bottom line is that your conlang won’t give your audience the same joy it … read more »

Seven Recipes for Heroes to Win Desperate Fights

The great ocean spirit towers over a building.

Grasping victory from the jaws of defeat makes a delicious ending. But after you establish your heroes can’t survive the millions of zombies swarming their cabin or overpower the villain who explodes cities with their mind, how can you create a satisfying victory? Well, you … read more »

Five Signs Your Story Is Transphobic

Three soldiers crossdress in Disney's Mulan

It’s time for a look at the most insidious messages targeting trans people. To improve how our stories treat trans people, we need to consider not only trans women and trans men, but the entire gender spectrum. That includes people who … Read more »

Six Tips for Sequels

Cover art from Ghost Brigades.

Everyone loves sequels. Audiences love them because a sequel means more of a story they’re attached to. Storytellers love them because a sequels have a built-in audience. But sequels are no cakewalk. They must live up to the expectations of the original, while adding something … read more »