Story Sorcery

Advice and Thoughts on the Craft of Storytelling in Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

Juggle External Action and Interiority

This is the third narration breakdown. I introduced this concept of the external vs. internal in scenes in my initial post on the four ways to break down page-level craft. The previous articles in this series addressed scene vs. summary and time digressions. Discover tips for writing...

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Writing Emotion

I'm going to let the graphics speak for themselves here. This stuff is from Robert Olen Butler's From Where You Dream, a fantastic craft book for writers of any genre. I've tried Butler's journal exercise, and it's very illuminating; I found it tremendously helpful in honing my depiction of...

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Creating Suspense

I recently came across this insightful analysis of suspense in the opening of the film Inglorious Basterds. In it, there's a mention of an article from the Psychology journal, Frontiers in Psychology about Tension and Suspense. The authors, Moritz Lehne and Stefan Koelsch, posit six components...

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Time Digressions in Narration

Manipulate time in your narration to gain both momentum and meaning I introduced this concept of present-time story vs. digression in time in my post on the four ways to break down page-level craft. The previous article in this series addressed scene vs. summary. This is the second narration...

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Common Problems in Manuscripts

I work with a lot of manuscripts--everything from novels to short stories; chapters, scenes; essays, memoir--and in this video, I go over four of the most common problems I've encountered in the work I've read in the past year or so. Do you think you might have one of these problems?...

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Scene vs. Summary (Narration Breakdown #1)

Narration Breakdown #1: Tighten up your stories with mastery of scene and summary I introduced this concept of scenes vs. summary in my post on the four ways to break down page-level craft. Here, in more detail, is what scene vs. summary is all about. And I’ve included some explanation on...

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​Page-level storytelling: Four ways to break down your narration

Though stories have a sequence and a structure, they are not lists. Sure, you can turn a story into a list: 1. I went into the woods 2. I heard a twig snap 3. I saw a monster 4. I ran 5. The monster chased me 6. I tripped And so on. But if your storytelling consists of a simple list of...

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​Story Grammar: Distinguish Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Story Advice

There’s a lot of writing advice out there. It is not difficult to find. It is also not difficult to feel overwhelmed by it all and, consequently, a bit inadequate as a writer. If you’re like me, you may question yourself on occasion. Am I doing this right? Should I be waking up at 4:00am every...

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Story Consumption: How to Read Like a Writer

You are what you eat when it comes to stories. In my MFA program, we were required to read 80 books over the two-year course of study. Like most writers, I was already a voracious reader, but time constraints and job demands had meant that I read far fewer than 40 books a year. (I did,...

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