Edit and Share Your Story

In this unit, you’ve learned five techniques to write better stories. Now it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. Your Assignment Write a second draft of the story you started in the first exercise. As you rewrite, follow the process define in our lesson on editing. Pay close attention to your protagonist and the […]

Choose a Story (exercise)

In this unit, we’re focusing on the editing process. To get practice with the concepts we will cover, you’ll need a story that you’ve written to edit. This story might be a work in progress or one that you finished long ago but want to rework. You’re welcome to use a short story or a […]

Set the Scene

I think people give the advice “show, don’t tell” too much. That being said there is one place in every story it’s very important to show. If you don’t show in this place, readers will have a very difficult time orienting themselves and actually enjoying your story. The point where you need to focus on […]

Cut or Combine Characters

Anton Chekhov said, “Don’t have too many characters. The center of gravity should be two: he and she.” And Stephen Koch says, “The warning sign of a story that is growing disorganized is likely to be too many characters, and the solution to that problem is likely to be the discovery of the one character—your […]

Create Choices that Matter

This brief lesson is a continuation on the last lesson about your protagonist’s choices. As important as it is for your protagonist to make choices that decides her own fate, it’s just as important to make those choices hard. Which choice creates more drama: Option One: Thirteen dwarves visit a hobbit named Bilbo to invite him […]

Write a First Draft (exercise)

William Faulkner said about his writing process, “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” In the […]

How to Find Time to Write (interview)

Writing good stories takes a lot of time, but time doesn’t always come easily. We’re all busy and getting busier, and the added distraction of building a platform for our stories can make writing nearly impossible. And yet, some writers seem to Make it look easy. Jeff Goins wrote hundreds of posts on his blog, got […]

Develop Your Protagonist

It’s easy to think we understand the role the protagonist plays in a story. We’ve seen movies and read books, after all. We know the protagonist when we see him. However, as I coach and edit authors, I’ve found that while many authors may be able to spot a protagonist, they don’t necessarily know how […]

Create Suspense and Drama

Once you’ve developed your protagonist, you need to bring him into conflict. The dramatic question is probably the single most important element in an entertaining story. Even if you are a terrible writer, if you can use the dramatic question effectively, people will read your work. The dramatic question lies at the heart of suspense, […]

Why Defining Your Audience Could Unlock Your Creativity [reading]

Listen to this lesson (5:25) [audio:http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/authorcartel/Rule%201.7%20-%20audience.mp3] Download MP3 If you free yourself from the false fantasies of fame and limits of the publishing industry, it changes the way you approach writing because it changes your audience. The first audience for your story is your story itself. Keith Jennings says, “Writers serve one thing: stories.” Almost […]