Seven Prologues and the Problems They Cause

A Martian landscape with a domed city and an airship.

In novels, prologues are almost always a mistake, and the reason why is simple: they take place before the story starts. If the story hasn’t started, what are you even reading? That’s why prologues are usually exposition dumps, meaningless action, or, occasionally, a completely separate … read more »

Five Bad Habits Writers Learn From Movies and TV

A shelf with books and camera equipment.

While the foundational rules of storytelling are the same no matter what medium you’re using, the story’s format still has an impact. Books and films are noticeably different, if the whole moving-picture situation wasn’t enough of a clue. Nevertheless, a lot of new writers first … 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 »