Character creation.

Plot’s good, but it’s not the whole story. The reason the plot matters is because it matters to the characters. Readers read because of the characters. If you replaced your characters with unfeeling robots, your readers probably wouldn’t care about your story. So how do you design your characters? I recommend starting small. Here are six questions …

The second layer of plot

Last post we talked about the first layer of plot for your novel—your one-sentence summary. The purpose of a one-sentence summary is to break the ice. To separate people who are in your target audience from people who aren’t. To give your target audience an opportunity to say, “Tell me more!” So let’s say you’re at a …

The foundation of your story: Plot

Plot is a complex beast. A novel has at least six layers of plot. This month, we’ll look at the outermost layer—the one-sentence summary. Why write a one-sentence summary? Because your one-sentence summary is a powerful sales tool. If you’re traditionally published, you need to sell your story seven times: You have to sell it to your …

Trust in the Magic

There’s a bit of magic that happens to all writers at one time or another. You sit down to start writing and the words aren’t coming. You keep at it for a bit, and the words still aren’t coming. You press on and on, and the words still aren’t coming. And at some point, the words start coming. The …

Ambition without Entitlement

What we see in the writings of the Stoics is that they strove to ensure that their ambition never corrupted their self-awareness. We rarely see ego and self-glorification in their pages, in fact, we usually find the opposite: meditations on how to improve, reminders that they were still human and flawed. This lack of ego was also …

Every day a little better

The knock against Seneca, even in his own time, was that he was a hypocrite. For a Stoic, he was obscenely rich. For a philosopher, he was uncomfortably close to the center of power and guilty of all the compromises such a position entails. Seneca was aware of this contradiction too. He even wrote about it. “Why …