Storytelling

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 »

Character Agency: It’s What That Sexy Lamp Is Missing

a person holds a big gun, ready to fight a huge lovecraftian monster

One of the phrases that’s been popularized in online storytelling discussions in recent years is the “sexy lamp test.”* This test is applied to a female character to judge whether the storyteller has given her an adequate presence in the story. A character fails the … 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 »

Harnessing Your Passion to Strengthen Your Stories

cover of Brandon Sanderson's Elantris

When we review a manuscript for content editing, we can usually tell what the writer is passionate about. Unfortunately, many manuscripts have a mismatch between what the writer loves and what the story needs. That creates serious problems in a creative work. We don’t tell … read more »

Nine Ways for Your Hero to Earn the Clues They Need

Several old books with a pipe, compass, and knife

It can be tricky to take a protagonist from blissfully ignorant to embroiled in a tense conflict between secret factions. That’s probably why I’ve encountered many manuscripts where a mysterious kidnapping or murder takes place and then a mentor shows up and tells the hero … read more »

18 Ways for Protagonists to Contribute

Lucy, Susan, Edmund, and Peter from the Narnia books

Every member of Team Good should help save the day. But the larger your ensemble cast is, the trickier it can be to make sure everyone is contributing. When a protagonist doesn’t pull their weight, they end up feeling superfluous at best and annoying at … read more »

Reconciling Character Choices With Your Plot

A classic painting of two girls reading a book together.

Sometimes, the reactions we assign to characters in the outline stage don’t feel natural when written out. In these cases, it can be difficult to judge whether planned character behaviors are unrealistic or the storyteller just isn’t in the right mindset. Since character choices can … read more »

Six Rape Tropes and How to Replace Them

The Orville's security officer and XO.

Fictional depictions or rape or attempted rape normalize sexual assault and are often hurtful to survivors. Let’s go over how rape ends up in our stories, why these patterns are hurtful, and how storytellers can accomplish their goals without it. Read more »

How to Use Story Structure in Non-Narrative Writing

Open book starting with Once Upon A Time

All communication can use story structure to engage audiences. This includes not only narrative works like creative nonfiction but also articles, speeches, essays, and informational texts. This doesn’t mean all communication should have story structure. Stories string audiences along – that’s how they work. Giving … read more »

Follow Us

Facebooktwitterpinterestrsstumblr

Get Our Email Newsletter

We'll send our best work every month.