What does your protagonist want? That’s a loaded question, right? But it’s the central idea of my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul at DIY MFA, and it’s one of the questions that you, as a writer, should consider for your story. As the article’s title reveals, your protagonist’s goals, desires, and other motivations don’t just influence the story’s plot. They also nurture some of the story’s literary themes! And in this article, you’ll learn how to do this with your writing with the help of examples from three books and four brainstorming exercises.
I don’t have a regular blog post going up this week. But I do want to share a couple website-related updates that might interest you. In fact, you may have already noticed some of them in the sidebar and also in the navigation menu. There are two in particular I’d like to highlight, so let’s jump right in with…
This is the Big Secret Project I’ve been working on since September: my own freelance editing and writing coaching business! I know I’ve been teasing about it for a while, but I’ve been reluctant to say much publicly before things were truly ready. And now, it’s Launch Day for…
So what kinds of services does Heart of the Story offer? Who is the business designed to help? And, what does the business mean for this website? This post will go over all of that. So, without further ado…
Here’s a question for any writers who are reading this: At what point in the writing process do you start paying attention to your story’s themes? Does theme even cross your mind as you’re brainstorming, drafting, or revising a story? If you answered “no” – don’t worry, your story probably still contains themes . However, it always helps to have a strong awareness of themes. So in my latest DIY MFA article, we explore ways in which you can develop that awareness at each stage of the process, and how that awareness can improve more than just the story.
Also, a fun fact for you: The conversation I mention during the article’s introduction eventually inspired me to pitch the Theme: A Story’s Soul column to DIY MFA. 😉
During a recent lunch-break walk at my day job, I almost stepped on a bird feather. It might not sound so extraordinary. After all, birds are part of the everyday outdoors. But unlike fallen leaves, clods of dirt, or patches of grass, it’s not every day that your foot comes in contact with a stray feather. So I stopped and picked it up.
Two thoughts crossed my mind then. First, the feather itself. Gosh, was it gorgeous. It was slender, slightly curved, and mostly brown with white horizontal bars that became indistinct closer to the tip. And at over 1 foot long from shaft to tip, it was also HUGE. I still haven’t identified what species it belongs to. (Someone suggested the wild turkey, and it seems to be the closest match.) But as I twirled the feather between my fingers, what bird once wore it didn’t matter. What did matter was how I felt at that moment: as if I’d found a piece of treasure.
Second, as I returned the feather to the ground, I thought about writing. For me, nature and writing have been deeply connected for a long time. In fact, they might be more so now than ever before. Continue reading
(Look for this week’s #WeeklyWriterWisdom questions after the jump.)
Welcome to the Character Evolution Files! This column focuses on character arcs, from the elements that create or enhance a character’s inner journey, to techniques that writers can employ to strengthen character arcs in their own work. Today we look back on our Journey Through the Character Arc with File No. 13, which answers questions we might have and that readers have posed during the series.
Analyzing the components of character evolution is no easy task. So is using those components to craft a protagonist’s path of growth through an original story. Thanks to our recent Journey Through the Character Arc series, which focused on 10 stages for developing a positive arc, we’re now equipped with a step-by-step process and targeted questions that can help us develop such a path that’s logical and compelling. But have Files No. 3 through 12 answered all of our questions about character arcs? Probably not.
So, for File No. 13, we’ll explore some of those questions. For example, can the order of the 10 arc stages be rearranged? How closely should those stages align with a story’s plot structure, or with the percentage milestones or lengths recommended in each post? Plus, if you found each arc stage’s questionnaire beneficial, check out the final section for a special worksheet announcement! Continue reading
After my recent DIY MFA post on themes arising from the inciting incident, I wondered whether other major plot points could also reflect a story’s heart. So, the newest installment of my Theme: A Story’s Soul column does just that. Today we look at the pivotal choice that ends Act I, or the “Point of No Return” that was covered in the Character Evolution Files.
Most writers would agree that the relationship (or rather, conflict?) between the protagonist and the antagonist is one of the most important “bonds” in a story. How important, though? More than we might think. In my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul post at DIY MFA, we examine how this unique relationship offers a goldmine of literary themes through the characters’ interactions and conflicting goals. Continue reading
An inciting incident has a crucial and unique responsibility in novel-writing. Sure, it’s the first major plot point in a story – but it also launches the protagonist into the main conflict and sparks the beginning of his character arc. And as we discover in today’s Developing Themes In Your Stories post at DIY MFA, it’s also one of the first scenes in the story where literary themes can bloom. Continue reading