Midpoints: Signpost Scene 7 and The Mirror Moment

Halfway through our stories (literally, the 50% mark), something absolutely remarkable happens. As we read through Act II, we’re moving along, enjoying the new obstacles that challenge your protagonist when *cue whipping sound* something BIG happens. In his book Super Structure, multi-bestselling author James Scott Bell questioned if there really was anything “unique” about the… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Tips on Writing Strong Plot Twists

From Agatha Christie to Alfred Hitchcock, plot twists have long been used to amuse and amaze us. But they’ve become so pervasive in recent fiction—especially in crime, thriller, and mystery novels—that readers have come not just to expect plot twists, but tire of them. Indeed, many twists these days are predictable, poorly structured, or simply… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Lessons from Legendary Writers

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton I’m a big believer that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, and there is no need to blaze your own trail when many others have successfully walked the path before you. That’s not to… Read more »

Why Is the Theme of Family Important?

Family has long been a cornerstone of humanity, regardless of time period, location, and culture. This is also true in the stories we read and write, as we discussed in this DIY MFA case study. However, what makes family such an important literary theme? Why do stories that focus on family sometimes lift our spirits… Read more »

Research as Real Life

Research: for some people, the word itself is enough to send chills up the spine. It brings back memories of term papers and case studies . . . of long hours pouring over mostly boring academic treatises and note cards . . . of bibliographies and footnotes and the dreaded decision about when to use… Read more »

#5onFri: Five Ways to Express Character Emotion

Reading is an exercise in empathy. When we read an effective story, we identify with its main characters and mirror their emotions. Indeed, the best stories get us to experience the events being portrayed. Studies have even shown that when readers encounter well-told stories, there’s cortex activity in their brains; that is, the areas of… Read more »