Solving the Character Arc

I love to deconstruct story (fiction and film) to figure out how to deliberately incorporate the important elements that make a story “work.” Here’s a straightforward method to create a powerful character arc. Despite popular opinion that the character arc is a mysterious alchemy of emotions, careful writing, and hope, it can be done by simply inserting a few key plot points at the right places in your story.

These points will sound formulaic. They are like cartoon lines of a picture that, if you use them with some subtlety, will blossom in your narrative. See what you think.

Here are the elements: Continue reading “Solving the Character Arc”

I Want to Be a Writer!

The story goes that back in the day Winston Churchill gave this commencement speech. In its entirety:



This is apocryphal, by the way, but it’s still expresses a true sentiment.

At social gatherings people can be interested to hear I’ve published books. They sometimes say something like,  “I have the greatest idea for a book! When I have a little time I’m going to write it and once  it’s published everyone will be talking about it and it’ll make a great movie too.”

Honestly, I don’t get this confidence… people know that you’re not going to play a Beethoven  sonata on your third piano lesson, or paint a masterpiece after a few months of art lessons. So,  why do they expect to just sit down at a keyboard for six months if they’ve never done it before and bang out a  bestseller that will make a million dollars? Stories of lightning-bolt authors notwithstanding, it doesn’t usually happen that way. Continue reading “I Want to Be a Writer!”

Lester Dent’s “Master Fiction Formula”

Lester Dent is famous in some writing circles for his output: about 175 novels in 16 years. He was born in 1904 and  started work in the 20s as a telegraph operator — until a friend of his published a story in a pulp magazine and  earned an enormous sum. “I can do that!” he said, and wrote his first novel on the graveyard shift of his job.

Dell Publishing was so impressed that they offered him a good monthly stipend — during the Depression, mind — to  write exclusively for their magazine, for which he learned tricks to turn out stories quickly. His “Master Fiction Formula” coming up in a moment! Continue reading “Lester Dent’s “Master Fiction Formula””