Story Structure · Writing

Inside Story: Notes on the 3-Act Structure

In my review of Inside Story: The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks, we had a brief look at the importance of theme in the creation of stories. Once you’ve identified what your story is really about – or its thematic value – you can begin to build a structure around your characters… Continue reading Inside Story: Notes on the 3-Act Structure

Writing Inspiration

Kurt Vonnegut: 8 Tips for Writing Short Stories

Here’s a video of great advice for short story writers – although you could easily apply these tips to novel writing too. If you take only one of these tips to heart, I would say the first is pretty important: don’t waste the time of a total stranger. Always ask yourself: why would anybody want to read this?

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.


Writing Prompts

Writing Prompt: Random Story #1

For this exercise, pick three random words and then add an emotion. Write for ten minutes and try to incorporate all three words in a way that expresses the emotion without mentioning it by name. Reveal the emotion through the action in the story. Here’s three words and an emotion to start you off:

Flood, Engine, Tortoise, plus the emotion of Joy

Share the results below!

Or read my version of this strange random story about a tortoise here