Story Craft 101


Chapter Ten: Acts and Subplots

Every story worth reading or watching will contain at least three overarching parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. An event starts the ball rolling (the inciting incident), which sets into motion a number of reactions and choices from our protagonist (middle acts and subplots), until it eventually culminates in a confrontation between all invested parties (the climax). Cut any… Read more →


Chapter Nine: The Inciting Incident

Type the words ‘plot structure’ into Google, and you’ll come up with a near endless list of different ways to design a story. ABDCE- Action- Background-Development-Climax-Ending. The W pattern, i.e. starting at a high point in the protagonist’s life, and then following the shape of the letter W, taking him on a journey of highs and lows. The Story Arc. One… Read more →


Chapter Eight: Character Design

For the first three-quarters of my writing life, I assumed the best way to flush out a character was to set them in a story, place my fingers on the keyboard, and jump directly into getting their story on the page. Oh, I may have general notions of which directions I wanted them to head, but as for the particulars of the… Read more →


Chapter Six: The Antagonist

For a long time, I assumed the antagonist of every story needed to have a maniacal mustache and some type of British styled bowler hat (or at least kept one tucked away in their broom closet). He or she needed to be plotting to take over the world, or sucking the fun out of a high school’s last dance, or… Read more →

Chapter Five: The Protagonist

  The second story I started working on had potential. It existed in the fantastical world of Antheia, where shadow beasts fought against the Shama-Yeem, the people of substance and light. There were cool powers and a city built on among the petal’s of a giant flower. It had epic battles, mystic abilities, and even a snarky, talking lizard. A… Read more →

Chapter Three: The Controlling Idea

If the story question is the known, external path a plot takes (you find it on the back-flap of most books or the movie’s summary on IMDB), than the Controlling Idea of the story is the unspoken but ever present truth of the journey. When a writer sits down to tell his or her tale, they are essentially making a… Read more →

Chapter Two: The Story Question

The vast majority of western storytelling (and the only type of story I feel any right to comment on) revolves around a central plot, or said another way, the Story Question. Introduced during the inciting incident (more on this plot device later), the Story Question boils down to a fairly simple formula, When x happens to the protagonist, then he/she… Read more →

Chapter One: Focus on writing a great story

“Two roads diverged in the woods, and I, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” Some guy related to Jack Frost My writing journey has been everything but a straight path. There have been more stops and layovers than a $79 Spirit Airway flight. Never would I claim to have taken the straightest,… Read more →