Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling

Recommended by Randy LaBarge. From: by Emerging Technology from the arXiv; July 6, 2016. Scientists at the Computational Story Laboratory have analyzed novels to identify the building blocks of all stories. Back in 1995, Kurt Vonnegut gave a lecture in which he described his theory about the shapes of stories. In the process, he plotted several examples on a blackboard. “There is no reason why the simple shapes of stories can’t be fed into… Read More

Insights Into Advanced Fiction Structure, by Donald Maass

From PNWA Master Class, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, via DeeAnna Galbraith All about building layers and surprising the reader with something they didn’t expect Character Work/Openings Is your protagonist: An everyman? What quality in the life of the author can be shown in this type of character almost immediately? Are they in control, too busy, boring job? Already a hero or heroine? What is this character’s everyday human quality? Put this… Read More

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 3: The First Act, by K. M. Weiland

From: Once you’ve hooked the reader, your next task is to put your early chapters to work introducing your characters, settings, and stakes. The first 20-25% of the book comprises your setup. At first glance, this can seem like a tremendous chunk of story to devote to introductions, but if you expect readers to stick with you throughout the story, you first have to give them a reason to care. And this… Read More

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 2: The Hook, by K. M. Weiland

From: Readers are like fish. Smart fish. Fish who know authors are out to get them, reel them in, and capture them for the rest of their seagoing lives. But, like any self-respecting fish, readers aren’t caught easily. They aren’t about to surrender themselves to the lure of your story unless you’ve presented them with an irresistible hook. Our discussion of story structure very naturally begins at the beginning—and the beginning… Read More

How Parallel Narrative Multiplies Your Story Choices, by Linda Aronson

From: Very often things like flashbacks, flash forwards, non-linear narratives, multiple plots and ensemble casts are regarded as optional gimmicks stuck into the conventional three act structure. They’re not. Each of the six types I’ve isolated and their subcategories provides a different take on the same story material.  Suddenly, one idea for a film can give you a multitude of story choices. What do I mean? More than six ways to… Read More

The Secrets of Story Structure, Pt. 1: Why Should Authors Care? by K.M. Weiland

From: What’s the single most overlooked, misunderstood—and yet most important—part of storytelling? If you cheated and looked at the title, you already know the answer is structure. Most uninitiated writers have two different reactions to the idea of story structure. Either they think it’s great, but too mystical and lofty to be understood by common mortals, or they think it’s formulaic hooey that will sap the art right out of their… Read More

3 Smart Tips for Structuring Powerful Scenes, by Rachel Starr Thomson

From: It’s common wisdom that in structuring powerful scenes, we should open in media res—that is, while something is happening. And it’s generally best to bow out while things are still happening: close the dinner conversation with the last line of dialogue, not after everyone has fallen silent, gotten up from the table, washed the dishes, and gone to bed. But once we get into a scene, what do we do… Read More

Four Things House of Cards Can Teach Us About Writing, by Cris Freese

From I think the general consensus among those writers who teach the craft is that you must read—and read widely—about the craft of writing, particularly those authors who write in your genre. But I think there’s a lot you can learn about writing from other mediums, too. Specifically television. Every other Monday, I’ll be bringing you takeaways from some of the best television shows out there. These are meant to be specific… Read More

Worksheet: Story Structure: The Seven-Point System, by Dan Wells

Adapted from Dan Wells on Story Structure The Seven-Point System: 1. Hook   2. Plot Turn 1   3. Pinch 1   4. Midpoint   5. Pinch 2   6. Plot Turn 2   7. Resolution     Key: Start at the end.

Desperately Seeking Darlings, by Kim Bullock

From: January 22, 2016 Back in late October, Liz Michalski wrote a post about how her portly manuscript lost an impressive 52,000 words. As someone who writes long and cuts later, I related well to her obsession with chopping adverbs, unnecessary adjectives, and dialogue tags.  I ran that gauntlet myself when the last draft of my manuscript clocked in at 115,000 words. The length wasn’t terrible, but I feared it might be… Read More