Story Sorcery

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

The Blog Has Moved

We've moved! The new address is blog.stormwritingschool.com. This one will remain, so you can come back here at any time if you have articles already linked. None of the links will be broken. But the new home for the Storm Writing School blog is blog.stormwritingschool.com. Check it out....

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Novel Structure: An Aggregate Paradigm

So, I just built an ottoman. (Never thought I'd write that sentence in my life, but there it is.) We repurposed a mattress from a toddler bed for the top--that's how big this thing is--but it's very sturdy and functional. I have very little skill in carpentry or woodworking, but all I had to do...

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A Compendium of Novel Structure Resources

In preparation for a class I’m teaching this weekend, I’ve done an exhaustive exploration of novel and story structure advice. Below, I’ve assembled what is more or less a bibliography. Consider this a list of resources more than the typical craft tip article. Bookmark this one and come back to...

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Why the Hero's Journey May Not Be Right for Your Story

What if your story is not a hero's journey? Soon after my father died, I had a crazy dream. In it, I came home from work, opened up the front door of my house, and discovered a party. Streamers hung across the room, along with signs that said, “Welcome Back!” My four siblings were...

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The Key to Reader Engagement

Storytelling is a complex beast. There are lots of things that appeal to readers: poetic sentences, imaginative alternate realities, sympathetic and/or courageous characters, relatable problems, vicarious experience. But at the scene level, there is really just one simple concept that spurs the...

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Why You Need Strong Antagonists in Your Story

What’s the purpose of the antagonist to the story? What makes for a truly engaging antagonist? Discover why you need a strong antagonist in your story. Let's get something straight right off the bat: Your story is about your protagonist. That is, the protagonist is the star. By...

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Problems vs. Obstacles: Strengthen your scene-level plotting with two types of conflict

We’ve all heard about the importance of conflict in storytelling. One of my favorite quotes in this regard comes from Charles Baxter, who says, “Only Hell is interesting.” If there’s not trouble in the story, we don’t want to hear about it. That’s not to say we want trouble to win out. On the...

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Action v. Information: Convey Info without Stalling the Story

One last paradigm for how narration breaks down. I’ve already discussed scene vs. summary, time digressions, and interiority vs. external action. Action v. Information: Convey Info without Stalling the Story. I find it useful—and usually pretty easy—to break narration down into...

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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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