How to Use Failure in Your Story

Even in the lightest, most upbeat of stories, heroes shouldn’t succeed every time. Failure is really important, both for keeping the plot unpredictable and for maintaining tension. If the protagonist never fails, then it’s likely to be a dull story indeed. However, failure also carries … read more »

The Four Essentials of an Effective Character Arc

Yennefer from The Witcher, a beautiful woman with violet eyes, bright red lips, and a fancy black eyemask

Even though a character arc works much like any other plot arc, when subjective character feelings and motivation are added to the mix, storytellers often have trouble. To help you evaluate and improve such issues, let’s go over the four basic requirements of a character … read more »

Ten Ways to Keep Authorities Out of Your Plot

Stories need problems to solve and heroes to solve them, which sounds simple enough at first. But then you realize that in most settings, there are authorities whose job is to stop these problems. They might be police officers, teachers at a magic school, or … read more »

Seven Tricks to Improve Your Minions

Weyoun surrounded surrounded by Jem'Hadar soldiers.

Minions are a mainstay of speculative fiction, to the point that they are sometimes as well-known as their named overlords. What would Saruman be without his Uruk-hai, or the Dominion without its Jem’Hadar? And yet, minions are often plagued with problems. They’re too easy to … read more »

How Storytellers Use Reactivity & Proactivity for Effect

Neo from the Matrix clings to the outside of a skyscraper

Many stories put their main characters through an uncomfortable period of disempowerment so the audience can watch them overcome it. But when creating these sequences, storytellers can struggle with character agency. After all, if the character is making choices that affect the plot, doesn’t that … read more »

How to Tell a Story Within a Story

Stories are great for taking us to extraordinary places, showing us compelling characters, and teaching important lessons. But what about stories within those stories? After all, it would only make sense that the characters would want their own tales of extraordinary places and important lessons. … read more »

Five Ways to Make Multiple Viewpoints More Engaging

a woman wears steampunk goggles on the cover of Boneshaker

Additional viewpoints are a valuable tool for storytelling, but they are drastically overused. Careless use of multiple viewpoints is so common that most writers would do better by using only one. However, since it’s obvious that writers won’t stop using extra viewpoints anytime soon, let’s … read more »