Articles about story arc

How Non-Chronological Writing Can Create Character Empathy

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2017

How Non-Chronological Writing Can Create Character Empathy

Shifting back and forth in time creates suspense. Your readers can unravel the past and understand the ramifications in the present a little at a time. It creates a tension that makes your books hard to put down.

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How to Write an Elizabeth Bennet Better Than the Original

by Kathy Edens Oct 25, 2017

How to Write an Elizabeth Bennet Better Than the Original

What do we love so much about Elizabeth Bennet? She's strong, and she's feisty. Just because she's expected to act a certain way doesn't mean she'll bend her convictions and change her behavior. She's real, right?

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Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo: Planners vs. Pants-ers

by Kathy Edens Oct 24, 2017

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo: Planners vs. Pants-ers

I set out on a quest to find if this world has more planners or pants-ers. Alas, there is no definitive answer, at least on the internet. I did, however, determine that most writing instructors ask their students who is a planner and who is a pants-er. This informal poll-taking reports about 50/50.

So, whether you're a planner or a pants-er, you're in good company. How do we know? Here are some famous authors who plan and those who fly by the seat of their pants.

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Writing App Reviews: A Comparison of the Best

by Kathy Edens Oct 17, 2017

Writing App Reviews: A Comparison of the Best

Here at ProWritingAid, we're geekily interested in writing tech, almost obsessively. And in honor of the upcoming NaNoWriMo, we thought we'd do a roundup of the apps we've reviewed over the years. Links to our full reviews are throughout.

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Why You Should Create Your Own Genre

by Kathy Edens Oct 09, 2017

Why You Should Create Your Own Genre

Are you trying to fit into a genre or sub-genre because it's popular right now? That's like trying to fit into a political party when your philosophy is somewhere in the middle. It's hard to find the right fit in either party, right?

Maybe it's time you created your own sub-genre or genre. Look at what Bridget Jones's Diary did for chick lit. And what The Hunger Games did for YA dystopian. And I'm still not sure how to categorize Jodi Picoult's novels. If you look up the genres of her books, you'll find "Genre: Fiction + Literature; Sub-Genre: Literary or Contemporary." Huh? Nonetheless, she's created her own space on the best seller list.

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Plot of Gold 30-day Challenge

by ProWritingAid Sep 15, 2017

Plot of Gold 30-day Challenge

Are you ready to create a strong, thorough outline for your novel? Brilliant!

From September to November this year, ProWritingAid will be paying for its community to have FREE access for 30 days to Beemgee's world-class novel-outlining software.

Whether you are preparing for NaNoWriMo or just ready to finally write that book, this 30-day challenge is crucial for getting you to the finish line.

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When Symbolism Goes Too Far

by Kathy Edens Jun 19, 2017

When Symbolism Goes Too Far

Are we hard-wired to seek symbolism in everything from our literature to our everyday life? Spirituality is rife with symbolism, advertisers use symbols to sell their products, and we interpret a smile from someone as a symbol of friendship.

Symbolism in literature uses an object or a word to represent something abstract in your work. A person, an action, a place, a single word, or an object can have symbolic meaning. Symbolism, done well, allows you to hint at a certain mood or emotion instead of showing it.

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Why a Fully Realized Villain is as Important as Your Protagonist

by Kathy Edens May 12, 2017

Your antagonist can make the difference between a ho-hum novel and a break-out one.

A fully realized villain is someone who shows us parts of ourselves in his or her makeup. If you can connect in some human way with the antagonist, it's going to bring up all kinds of tension for readers.

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Growing The Writing Cooperative

by Stella J. McKenna May 11, 2017

Growing The Writing Cooperative

“The Coop” is more than just a Medium publication — it’s a community. And it’s growing.

The motto of The Writing Cooperative is, “Helping each other write better”. This phrase ultimately guides all that we do.

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Have You Written Your Story's 'Mirror Moment' Yet?

by Kathy Edens Apr 18, 2017

Have You Written Your Story's 'Mirror Moment' Yet?

I recently came across a book by James Scott Bell that lays out an interesting premise about something he calls the 'mirror moment'.

Bell's theory is that there is a single moment in the middle of the story where the main character takes a "long, hard look at himself (as in a mirror). He asks, Who am I? What have I become? Who am I supposed to be?"

Bell says if you can nail that moment, everything that comes before and after it will have more depth and resonance.

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How to Write Multiple Points of View

by Kathy Edens Apr 03, 2017

How to Write Multiple Points of View

When you’re starting a new story, determining POV is a very important choice. Writing from multiple POVs can be frustrating and confusing for readers if it’s not handled well, so you need to have a very good reason for using multiple POVs in your story.

That said, here are a few tips on how to craft a story using multiple POVs:

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Why Your Ending is as Important as Your Book's Hook

by Kathy Edens Mar 14, 2017

Why Your Ending is as Important as Your Book's Hook

Have you ever been so engrossed in a book that if the ending isn't strong and doesn't resolve all the plot threads, you're disappointed in the whole book? I once read a novel with a deeply engaging main character I really connected with. She struggled and overcame and struggled and overcame. And at the very end of the book, the author killed her. WHAT? It's the only time I've ever thrown a book. And I refused to read anything more by that author.

You know how important it is to hook your reader from the very beginning. It's why you start in the middle of the action, plunging your reader right in so they get caught up in the excitement.

Your ending is as important…if not more.

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How to Use Trello to Storyboard Your Novel

by Kathy Edens Feb 28, 2017

How to Use Trello to Storyboard Your Novel

You may have noticed that we at ProWritingAid have a fondness for technology that makes writers better, stronger, more organized, and highly productive. If you like creating a storyboard for your novels, or if you want an innovative app to capture all of your to-do’s for your client work, let us introduce Trello.

For those of us who use sticky notes, index cards, and other forms of reminders to help you organize everything you need for a writing project, Trello is the easiest, most intuitive way to organize your work.

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Attention Writers: Why You Should NOT Copy the Masters

by Kathy Edens Jan 16, 2017

Attention Writers: Why You Should NOT Copy the Masters

Chefs around the world don’t merely copy the recipes of other great chefs. Instead, they dissect the completed dish, looking for ways to improve it and make it their own. In the same sense, writers shouldn’t copy the masters. We’re not saying don’t learn from the masters, but rather dissect their work and see what makes it great.

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How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2016

How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

If you haven’t read The Martian, it’s 369 pages of full-on tension. Mark Watney, the main character, faces one set-back after another as he’s fighting for his life on Mars. The stakes are pretty high; if he doesn’t get off Mars soon, he’ll die.

Weir is a master at creating tension. Just when things are finally going right for Watney, Weir pulls the rug out from under his feet. We watch as Watney perseveres through untenable disasters that would crush the rest of us. Weir keeps readers asking throughout the story, “How’s he going to get out of this one?”

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How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock

by Kathy Edens Nov 21, 2016

How to Foreshadow Like Alfred Hitchcock

Foreshadowing allows you to plant clues, hint at what’s to come, build the tension, or even place a red herring in your reader’s path.

You can use foreshadowing in a variety of ways. The resulting action can be immediate or delayed. You can use dialogue or narrative to set the scene, and you can foreshadow a symbolic event or an ethical dilemma. You can use direct or indirect foreshadowing, and it can even be true or false.

Foreshadowing can feed the tension of a scene. Who doesn’t know the famous shower scene in the movie Psycho? Right before the character Marion Crane pulls up to the Bates Motel, her windshield wipers are slashing through the rain, foreshadowing what awaits her in the shower scene.

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Flashbacks: A Writer’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

by ProWritingAid Nov 21, 2016

Flashbacks: A Writer’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy)

A flashback is a scene you use in your current narrative to show something that happened in the past. The two key differentiators are: 1) it must be a scene (as opposed to narration about an event), and 2) it’s past news.

Flashbacks are great for building three-dimensional characters because readers gains insight on how a character’s thoughts, feelings, and morals were formed by important events. They’re also useful for dropping hints about what happened to lead your main character to the current point in time. They help your readers understand and care deeply about your characters and what happens to them.

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New E-book: The Novel-Writing Training Plan

by Lisa Lepki Oct 03, 2016

New E-book: The Novel-Writing Training Plan

So you are ready to write your novel. Excellent. Are you prepared? The last thing you want when you sit down to write your first draft is to lose momentum. Have you figured out the key traits of your characters so that you know how they will act (and react) in each scene? Have you thought through the climax of your narrative so that you can lay all the groundwork to get there? Have you researched the setting of your story so you can make it feel authentic?

Use this guide before you start writing to work out your narrative arc, plan out your key plot points, flesh out your characters, and begin to build your world. Then, when you begin your writing journey, you will have a map to follow along the way.

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Triumphing at NaNoWriMo: How to Be Your Most Productive

by Kathy Edens Sep 20, 2016

Triumphing at NaNoWriMo: How to Be Your Most Productive

Write first. Proofread in December.

It’s all about getting the words down on the page (or the computer screen). We published an article a couple of months ago about ilys, an online platform that only allows you to see the last letter you typed on the screen. You can’t go back and edit—you can only keep typing until you’ve hit your word goal for the day. While this platform may take the “just write, don’t edit” rule further than many writers are comfortable with, the idea remains the same whether you are writing in word, Scrivener or with a quill and ink. Just write.

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Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

by Kathy Edens Jul 13, 2016

Create Compelling & Evocative Scenes

Scenes are the rising and falling action, and the soft moments in between, that move your story forward. They have a couple of basic purposes:

  • They establish time and place. They give the reader a marker on where and when things are happening.
  • They help develop character. Even if the scene is pure action, you learn about the character’s motivations by his or her decisions, choices, and actions.
  • They let characters set goals. Without goals to achieve, characters have no reason to act or emote. Readers want to know what’s at stake.
  • They allow the action to rise or fall. This movement is what carries your reader forward.
  • They let you crank up the conflict. Without conflict, you won’t have tension. And without tension, your story is boring.

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