Storytelling

Five Arab and Muslim Stereotypes to Avoid

Discrimination against Muslims, especially Arab Muslims, is often attributed to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. However, the truth is that Islamophobia goes back centuries before that. From 18th-century oil paintings of scantily clad harem women to modern TV dramas, fiction has a long … read more »

How Do I Depict a Newly Blind Character?

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I have a character who recently got blinded and now has to deal with what that means. How can I show him struggling and adapting to his new life without caricaturing or stereotyping the experiences of blind people and blindness in general? In addition, my … read more »

Narration Makeover: Creating Tension

Mark Watney from The Martian digging himself out of some Martian soil

We’ve discussed creating tension at a big-picture level many times. However, it’s not enough to have a big-picture plan; tension must also be brought out in the narration. While the bestselling books I critique almost always have tense narration covered, manuscripts often don’t. Let’s help … read more »

How to Choose Scenes for Your Story

A landscape of rolling grassy hills shows through a window

No matter the medium, every storyteller has to be selective about which events the audience will experience and which will be summarized or simply left out. This is particularly true for stories that take place over long time periods. Leaving out important events will frustrate … read more »

How & Why You Should Consolidate Your Story

A boy surrounded by glowing butterflies looks at the ones inside a giant lightbulb

We’ve mentioned many times that stories can’t handle infinite complexity; audiences have a limit to how much they can absorb and understand. When stories are over-burdened with too many ideas, they become both confusing and slow. Plus, dividing your wordcount between, for example, ten important … read more »

How Do I Make a Verbal Conflict Exciting?

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 What are the best ways to do verbal climaxes, and what are some good examples thereof? I want to write a story where the climax is a conversation between two characters to uncover the truth, or a detective’s denouement, or a courtroom cross-examination ending in … read more »