Six Signs Your Story Is Queerphobic

We’ve talked about racism and sexism before, but bigotry against non-straight folk is just as important. Most storytellers know not to use blatant stereotypes these days, and yet queerphobia persists. To prevent these toxic messages from creeping into our work, we have to search for … read more »

Crafting a Redemption Arc for Your Villain

Character change brings a lot to our stories, but the more dramatic the change, the harder it is to craft. That’s why arcs that transition characters between good and evil are some of the most difficult but also the most rewarding. Previously, I’ve covered arcs … read more »

Five Tropes That Make a Protagonist Boring

Kirk standing on the god planet in Star Trek V.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about tropes that make villains incompetent. But villains are only half of the equation. Protagonists have plenty of tropes as well, which is why Clark sent us this question: I really liked the post on “Tropes that … read more »

Seven Ways to Bring Characters Together

You have a character that’s made from oozing lava, and another that’s a rolling snowball. They’ll make a great lava-snow duo, but right now they won’t so much as say hi. Don’t worry, storytellers have many tried-and-true plot devices for bringing characters from different walks of life … read more »

Five Common Romance Mistakes

Romance is a difficult genre to write in. Audiences are very particular when it comes to romance, and it’s easy to fall afoul of their expectations. To make sure your story avoids this unenviable fate, beware of these common mistakes. Read more »

Five Tropes That Make a Villain Look Incompetent

Villainy is a profession loaded with tropes. From the evil speech to the climactic duel against the hero, villainous behavior has been tweaked and refined through the ages. Unfortunately, some of these tropes make the villain look incompetent. They invoke eye-rolling from the audience and destroy tension in the … read more »

Depicting Background Characters

Not every person that appears in a story is an actual character. These non-characters remain in the background: standing in line, cheering after a speech, or manning a stand. Like the buildings or the waterways, they exist to flesh out the setting. They are the extras of … read more »

Depicting Internal Conflicts

External conflicts are obvious to the audience and easy for storytellers to conceptualize. The hero either defeats the villain or they get beat; they either convince the jury or they are thrown in jail. But while these conflicts are usually the first thing that new storytellers reach … read more »