Category Archives: Craft

Another Way to Tell a Story: Sociological vs Psychological Storytelling

On the occasion of the largest pandemic in a century, you might’ve watched or re-watched Contagion, a star-studded 2011 movie directed by Steven Soderbergh about a deadly virus originating from China that sweeps the globe. The film is currently having a renaissance on Netflix due to its striking similarities to real-world events, though its more cerebral and realistic take on a world-wide pandemic resigned it to an underwhelming box office haul upon its originally release in theaters.

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Screenwriting Versus Novel-Writing

Don’t we all wanna be this asshole? Look how in the zone he is!

Throughout my blog posts, I often use examples from novels, TV shows, and movies. Some of the resources I cite for aspiring authors are actually screenwriting guides. Yet this website is supposed to be offering advice on writing books, not screenplays or teleplays. So why do I use non-book examples?

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5 Ways to Tell If You’re a Natural Writer

But I AM a natural heart surgeon! I just choose to do other things with my hands…

Like most endeavors in this thing we call life, how good you are at something depends on a combination of natural skill and drive to improve. Notice I said how good you are at something, not how successful you are, because success depends a lot on luck…more than most successful people are willing to admit. If you’re good at something, it increases your odds of success, but you can still suck at something and be successful at it.

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Overview of All the Genres, and Which is Right for You

“Genre, genre, genre…there’s so much to explore here!”

Continuing from my last post on genres, I’ll now describe each major literary genre, its universal tropes, and if it’s right for you.

…Seriously, read my last post as a primer! TL;DR: you must pick a genre for your story. …But which one?? Keep reading to find out!

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3 Easy Steps to Write a Compelling Villain

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

Crack open any Storytelling 101 book and it’ll tell you conflict is your story’s engine. Every story since the history of forever has centered around someone trying to solve a problem; otherwise, it’s not a story so much as a series of anecdotes, or an aside, or your drunk uncle’s ramblings.

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How to Use Fiction to Tell the Truth

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

What if I told you the best fiction was all about telling the truth?

“But Shana, it’s fiction!” you might respond. “It’s not real! How is my erotic paranormal romance about shapeshifting unicorns supposed to tell the truth about anything?”

Well, let me explain…BTW, if YOU have written an erotic paranormal romance about shapeshifting unicorns, PLEASE SEND ME THE BUY LINK ASAP.

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How The Rise of Skywalker Will End

[Note: this post contains speculation, but no spoilers]

Hope y’all had an awesome Thanksgiving! Here’s an early Christmas present for you:

Want to know how the upcoming final chapter in the latest Star Wars movie trilogy will end? I’ll tell you!

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Breaking Down What a Story Actually Is…And What It Isn’t

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

No writing workshop is complete without a definition of a story explained to the audience of aspiring authors. They come in flavors from simple to complicated, though I prefer the simple ones.

A plot is not a story!A plot is a series of events that forms an overarching narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. A plot is stuff that happens. A story is stuff that happens for a reason,which is provided by the characters. At its very basic elements, a story is “plot plus characters.”

Here’s the definition of a story I’ve found most useful:

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Baking Literary Bread, Part 3 – How to Solve Common Story Problems Using the Recipe

[This blog was originally published in Night Owl Reviews]

Last time, we discussed the correct order and ratio of all the necessary ingredients for a successful story: hook (page 1) -> inciting incident (anytime before plot point 1) -> plot point 1 (PP1; 20-25% mark) -> midpoint (50% mark) -> plot point 2 (PP2; 75% mark) -> climax/denoument (last 90%).

Knowing the correct order and ratio can solve a lot of issues with a manuscript that readers complain about but authors may have a hard time interpreting. Here are a few ambiguous but common problems decoded into their meaning and solution:

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