Originality in Storytelling

originality in storytelling

Has everything been done before?

Most storytellers strive to write fresh, original stories. They’re hoping to come up with an idea that’s never been done before.

Is that even possible?

Most stories are built with universal structures, or they use elements that can be found in the plethora of stories that already exists. That’s why readers can often predict the outcome of a plot (we’ve seen that plot structure before) or why some characters feel familiar, cliché, or stereotypical (we’ve seen those characters and their problems before).

But if it’s true that every story contains elements of stories that came before, then why do some stories feel original, even if they’re not?  Read More

Plot vs. Character in Storytelling

fiction writing plot and character

Fiction writing: plot vs. character.

Have you ever struggled with a story idea only to give up because it seems like every plot has already been done? Maybe you focus on character development to make up for a weak or formulaic plot.

Or maybe you focus on plot, only to end up with characters that feel flat, stereotypical, or unsympathetic. But your plot is riveting, and that makes up for lackluster characters.

Some stories are plot-driven: they take us through twists and turns that keep readers glued to a story. Others are character-driven: readers keep turning the pages because they’ve become attached to the characters and need to find out what happens to them. But some of the best stories strike a balance between a compelling plot and intriguing characters. Read More

How to Identify the Protagonist in a Story

how to identify the protagonist

Can you identify the protagonist?

In most stories, the protagonist is obvious: Harry Potter, Lisbeth Salander, and Katniss Everdeen are unquestionably the protagonists of their respective stories. But sometimes the protagonist isn’t so obvious.

In some cases, a false protagonist is planted to intentionally mislead the audience, but the story later reveals another character to be the true protagonist. In other cases, primary characters get strong roles within a story, making the true protagonist difficult to suss out.

George R.R. Martin is beloved and infamous for killing off main characters in his series A Song of Ice and Fire, and readers are often mislead or confused about which character is the protagonist at any given moment in the epic historical fantasy tale.

If we’re not sure which character is the protagonist, how do we go about identifying the protagonist? Read More

Futuristic Inspiration for Speculative Fiction

creative writing prompts

Get inspired by the future.

How would people in the Middle Ages respond to a television? What would someone from the 1700s think of a helicopter? What would a person from the early twentieth century think of a computer, or more specifically, the Internet?

They would think these things were magical — either illusions or genuine supernatural occurrences. They might even believe the persons yielding the magical objects were witches, wizards, or gods.

But you and I both know that’s not the case. Read More

What is a Story Concept?

story concept

How can you put story concept and premise to use?

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter eleven: “Concept, Premise, and Loglines.” Enjoy!

Most audiences are first introduced to stories as concepts, premises, or loglines.

These are hooks used for pitching and marketing; they draw people’s attention, get them interested in a story, and compel them to buy it.

Writers often start with a concept or premise as the initial idea for a story. It’s certainly not the only way for a story to be born, but identifying a clear concept or premise early on can lend clarity as you work your way through the composition of a story. Read More

Narrative Techniques for Storytellers

narrative techniques

Find out how narrative techniques can improve the stories you write!

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter ten: “Literary Devices and Narrative Techniques.” Enjoy!

Writers use literary devices to convey or illustrate thoughts, ideas, and images or to strengthen their prose. Narrative techniques are a subset of literary devices that are specifically used in narrative writing. Both literary devices and narrative techniques occur naturally in writing but are also used intentionally. Learning about the many literary devices and narrative techniques that are available will add weight to your writer’s toolbox. Read More

Storytelling: Writing Chapters and Scenes

writing chapters and scenes

Writing Chapters and Scenes.

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter nine: “Chapters, Scenes, and Sequences.” Enjoy!

Chapters, scenes, and sequences are structural units of storytelling. These are the basic blocks of a story that contain all other elements, from characters, plot, and setting to action, dialogue, and description. Read More

Writing Description in Fiction

description in fiction

Tips for writing description in fiction.

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter eight: “Description and Exposition.” Enjoy!

Without description, readers wouldn’t be able to visualize what’s happening in a story. We need to see the setting and the characters. Because there are no visuals in prose, writers must use words to describe a story’s visual elements in a way that helps readers see the story playing out in their minds. Read More

Action and Dialogue in Storytelling

action and dialogue

Action and dialogue in storytelling.

Today’s post is an excerpt from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter seven: “Action and Dialogue.” Enjoy!

Action and dialogue are the wheels that carry a story forward. The easiest way to imagine action and dialogue in written narrative is to think of a movie. When characters onscreen do things, that’s action. When they talk, that’s dialogue. Most of a story’s momentum is contained in action and dialogue.

You may have heard the old writing adage, “show, don’t tell.” It’s one of those sayings that becomes blatantly obvious once you get it. Readers want to see what’s happening. Characters walk and talk. They kick and punch and scratch. They cry and laugh, run and hide. They do things and say things. That’s how story happens: through action and dialogue. Read More

Narrative Point of View in Storytelling

narrative point of view

What’s your narrative point of view?

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter six: “Narrative Point of View.” Enjoy!

The terms story and narrative can be used interchangeably, meaning a sequence of events, real or fictional, that are conveyed through any medium ranging from prose to film. However, when we talk about narrative, we’re often referring to the structural nature or presentation of a story, the manner in which it’s told. Read More