New DIY MFA Article on Themes in a Book Series


Who doesn’t love a good book series? If the first installment draws me in, I can’t help but continue on with the next book, and the next, revisiting characters that have become old friends,  getting lost in their world and predicaments, and (in some cases) connecting with their themes. Which got me thinking: How do literary themes present themselves in a series? You can find the answers to that question, as well as what writers should consider when it comes to “serial themes,” at my latest Theme: A Story’s Soul article at DIY MFA.

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The Character Evolution Files, No. 14: Aligning the Protagonist’s Character Arc with the Story’s Plot, Part 1


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 continue our studies with File No. 14, which serves as Part 1 of our examination of the parallels between story structure and character arcs.

If you’ve been following the Character Evolution Files, you may have noticed that the story’s plot and the protagonist’s character arc are tightly connected. But how do we ensure this connection exists? How can writers “time” the arc’s stages precisely so that they occur in tandem with the plot’s events? The answer lies once again with the protagonist and her response to those events – because they’re going to change her life, and who she is, forever.

Today, in Character Evolution File No. 14, we’ll start a two-part study on plot-arc alignment. We’ll learn a dual strategy for creating and maintaining this connection between a story’s external and internal elements, and why that connection exists in the first place. Then, we’ll begin a Journey Through the Character Arc “recap” that examines each stage with our new strategy and poses questions we should consider each time. If this sounds a bit weighty – well, now you know why I split it in two. 😉 Continue reading

New DIY MFA Article and Worksheet on External Conflict Themes


Time for the next installment of “Developing Themes in Your Stories”! So far, this special series on my DIY MFA column Theme: A Story’s Soul has covered how character arcs and a story’s premise can reflect literary themes. For this third piece, the focus turns to the external conflict. This crucial element does a lot more than set the stage and circumstances that trigger the story. We’ll look at how brainstorming “what if” scenarios and considering the results or consequences of your protagonist’s decisions can unearth a story’s themes.

Click here to read “Developing Themes In Your Stories: Part Three – The External Conflict.”

New Worksheet on External Conflict Themes

Like with the character arc and premise themes articles, I’ve developed an External Conflict Themes Worksheet that contains the activities from the above article. Feel free to download the document to your computer and print it out for your “thematic exploration.” 😉

Also, the External Conflict Themes Worksheets is the first worksheet to feature the new website’s “branding.” I plan on updating the existing worksheets with similar branding in the near future.

Click here to visit Worksheets for Writers and download a PDF copy of the External Conflict Themes Worksheet.

Got any questions or suggestions for Theme: A Story’s Soul? Feel free to comment below or tweet me at @SaraL_Writer with the hashtag #AStorysSoul.