Signpost Scenes — A Kick in the Shins

If you read my last article on the Point of No Return Decision (Signpost Scene #5 in James Scott Bell’s Superstructure) you know that every Lead makes a HUGE decision that launches them into Act II. But what happens after that massive moment? For some weaker first drafts of a WIP, sometimes nothing. This is… Read more »

Signpost Scenes — Doorway of No Return #1

Here we go again! Week #5 of James Scott Bell’s 14 signpost scenes, and I promise that you’re in for a big one. Why? Because signpost #5, otherwise known as The Doorway of No Return #1 (The Point of No Return, abbreviated PONR), is one of the three massive, explosive, impossible-to-write-a-story-without plot points. If you’re… Read more »

Signpost Scenes — Trouble Brewing

Welcome back, readers! I hope that my last article on The Argument Against Transformation helped clear up any questions you had on theme and your Lead’s need for transformation. Now, as we move forward with act one, we approach a crucial signpost scene that, though quick, makes a big difference escalating tension and exciting readers,… Read more »

Signpost Scenes — The Argument Against Transformation

Welcome to week three! In my last two articles I’ve discussed two major beats in every story: the disturbance and the care package. Both of these beats focus on how events or vulnerabilities impact or develop the Lead (i.e. – the protagonist). So you shouldn’t be surprised as we venture into James Scott Bell’s third… Read more »

Signpost Scenes — The Care Package

In my article last month, we discussed the first of James Scott Bell’s signpost scenes in his plotting masterpiece Super Structure: The Key To Unleashing The Power of Story. We went through how first chapters must incorporate some sort of disturbance that upsets the routine of the protagonist’s ordinary world. But readers won’t care about… Read more »

Signpost Scenes – The Disturbance

Okay, readers, today (and the next fourteen articles) I’m going to try something different. If you’ve read my articles before, you might remember one about outlining. In it, I mention James Scott Bell’s (JSB) idea on signposting scenes, which fuses the processes of outliners and non-outliners together—genius! Well, I’ve got even greater news. While reading… Read more »

How to Write an Exciting First Chapter

Although lots of writers tend to fear the muddling through the middle, first chapters (and beginnings in general) can be just as daunting. You might find yourself asking, “Where do I start? What is the best part of my story to use as my first chapter?” You’re not alone in this internal debate. In fact,… Read more »

The Five Essential Elements of Strong Dialogue

Rick Kerb’s Little Miss Sunshine (featuring Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, and Abigail Breslin) won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 2007, and for a good reason. Not only does this film follow a cast of colorful characters, the story also thrives on sharp, engaging dialogue rich with tension. But what can screenwriting teach fiction… Read more »

Three Ways to Show Instead of Tell

How many times have you heard an editor or agent tell you to show more in your writing? It’s okay if you’re answer is “A lot.” This was the number one comment I received during my first writing class. Heck, I heard it in my next two or three writing classes, which got me thinking:… Read more »

To Outline or Not To Outline?

“No sane person would think of setting out to construct a skyscraper or even a one-family home without a detailed set of plans.” – Albert Zuckerman When Eero Saarinen built the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, he built from the ground up. In other words, he calculated extensive mathematical equations so that the arch curved… Read more »