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What Is Dreamzoning? (7 Steps to Finding New Story Ideas)

Every writer knows a thing or two about daydreaming. But what about dreamzoning? What’s that—and how can it help you cultivate inspiration for your storytelling? Put simplistically, dreamzoning is basically just daydreaming on steroids. It’s purposeful, focused daydreaming. It’s intense. It’s fun. And if you’re a writer, it’s the mother lode of all...

7 Steps to Stop Overthinking Your Writing

It’s a question I’ve received countless times from readers over the years—and one I’ve found myself asking of late as well: How do you stop overthinking your writing? Writers are often known as thinkers. Indeed, we’re often proud of the connotation. We spend a lot of time in our heads. We love to read. We research like we love it (because we do). And...

5 Questions About Scene Sequences

In many ways story structure is a fractal pattern. The same patterns we find on the macro level of the entire story arc also repeat themselves, within an ever-tightening spiral, from scene structure all the way down to sentence structure. Somewhere in between story and scene, we find scene sequences. Within the story’s larger narrative, scene sequences...

Are You Growing as a Writer? (Here’s the Only Way to Tell)

Do you want to grow as a writer? I know you do, simply because you are a writer. I know because you are here reading this post, either because you subscribe to this blog and others like it as a way to mainline writing knowledge on a regular basis, or because you stumbled onto this post in a search through the jungles of the Internet for the answer...

The Power of Chiastic Story Structure (Especially in a Series)

When writers put on their story theorist caps, nothing is more exciting than those moments when you get to recognize consistent patterns emerging within obvious story forms. This is the basis of all of our understanding (and musing) about story, including the chiastic story structure we’ve been studying these past few months. Although writers sometimes...

The Midpoint as the Swivel Point of Your Story’s Linked Structure

The “saggy middle” of a story is one of the biggest challenges writers face. The Second Act is twice as long as the other two acts and yet is often less clearly defined. What’s a writer to do to keep the pacing just as tight and the events just as interesting over the long haul of the Second Act? The simplest answer is: Mind the Midpoint. Writing instruction...

Book Launch Day: Writing Your Story’s Theme!

Today I am officially launching my latest writing-craft book Writing Your Story’s Theme. Yay! This book has been such a passion project for me. When I started thinking about what writing-craft book I wanted to publish next, I realized my cornerstone writing guides have so far built on each other in a linear way, moving from the generalities of brainstorming...

The Link Between Your Story’s Pinch Points

Of all the paired structural beats in a story, the Pinch Points are perhaps the most obvious. There are only two of them, they have the same name, and they perform essentially the same function in both their first and second iteration. They’re also perhaps the least known and most confusing of all the major turning points in classic story structure....

The Link Between Your Story’s First Plot Point and Third Plot Point

I often talk about cohesion and resonance as being two of the most important qualities of great stories. Many factors are involved in achieving these effects, but one of the subtlest and yet most powerful is found within the structure of story itself. This is the hidden “circle” of story structure, in which all the important beats in the first half...

The Link Between Your Story’s Hook and Resolution

On a theoretical level, art often comes down to patterns. As readers and even writers we are not always conscious of these patterns, but whenever we are able to recognize that a story works—or does not work—usually what we are responding to is the comparative effectiveness of certain underlying patterns. This is perhaps nowhere more obvious than in...

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