New DIY MFA Post on Revenge as a Literary Theme (Plus, Looking for Your Help with This Year’s Blogoversary)

OK, confession time: I’ve been looking forward to covering this theme for a while. 😉 And while revenge is typically considered a literary masterplot, such stories can highlight intriguing insights into what happens when someone seeks vengeance for a perceived wrong. So, with the help of a classic revenge novel (Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights) and a recent spin on superheroes (V.E. Schwab’s Vicious), I explored the theme in my latest post at DIY MFA. Which storytelling elements do these stories use to shed light on this dark, complex theme? You’ll have to read on to find out!

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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.

Chronicling The Craft: 55,000 Words

Wounds, Lies, & Flaws: Using Character Arcs to Propel Your Story

Chapters Completed: 14

Chapters In Progress: 6

Chapters Left to Start: 14

“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with writing my current work-in-progress (WIP), which is a fantasy novel. Every 5,000 words, I let readers know what I’ve accomplished since the previous article and share advice, discoveries, techniques, etc. Besides the word count in each article title, a “chapter ticker” at the top also tracks my progress as I use the skip-around / “writercopter” method to write the novel. Today’s installment celebrates the book reaching 55,000 words in length.

Reaching each 5,000-word milestone on this WIP has become a ritual that I look forward to very much. It allows me to look back at what I’ve done since the last update and at how far this story has come since I started writing it last year. And, it gives me an opportunity to look ahead and alternate between thinking “Yay! Another step closer to finishing!” and “Jeez, Sara, are you crazy?” (Ha ha!) I’m willing to bet, though, that many writers feel that way when they’re in the middle of a first draft. All I can do to move forward is to keep imagining, planning, changing said plans, talking to myself (I do that A LOT when I write), and typing until the entire book has been written. And with each writing session, I’m indeed another step closer to that point. Continue reading