Try this Story Fix — Before You even Start

Blog post

You’ve invested time and money studying “story.” (You can’t imagine how much I’ve spent!) After reading all those writing manuals, we are “story structure” engineers. We could be teaching story structure. In fact, I do! And yet— Where’s the prize-winning novel? Where’s my Oscar for Best Screenplay? I’m sitting here at my desk, staring at […]

When Critics Say, ‘Hey, you can’t do that!’

SSX IN PRINT

Two years an eBook—now in print—STORY STRUCTURE EXPEDITION: Journey to the Heart of a Story. It continues to draw rave reviews, such as: What the hell sort of book is this, anyway? It doesn’t teach us how to do anything. It’s a “how-to” book that morphs into a novella. You can’t do that! I recently […]

Is Your Story Smarter than You Are?

MichaelBarnett-2016-4

Have you ever felt that the story you’re writing is wiser than you? If so, I suspect you’re lost or stuck. It also means that you’re writing something worth reading. I became deeply lost while writing Story Structure Expedition—Journey to the Heart of a Story. We were exploring up the Congo River in a steamer […]

Give your Muse a Break: Let Fear Fuel your Fiction

Do you wait for the muse to ignite your imagination? And wait, and wait, and wait— Then, consider fueling your fiction with an ever-ready  source of inspiration. FEAR. Our characters lead us places we’d rather not go—that’s the fear I’m talking about. Of course, we don’t want to go down that road, but then why […]

All Stories Are Escape Stories

Great Escape

“Every story is an escape story.” I’ve taped that slogan to the wall of my work station. It clarifies my character’s trajectory. It helps my story “come true” because it acknowledges a fact of our human condition: We are all escaping something. That notion hijacked my brain after a decade of professionally assessing and writing […]

Why the Hero Must Die

SS2D4 new cover

I teach the “2-story” story. Never mind the three-act structure, the best stories can be said to consist of two stories separated by a bottomless hole. Where the hero “dies.” STORY ONE—from the opening line to the protagonist’s loss of faith in him/herself. STORY TWO—the protagonist emerges from the hole armed with the moral authority […]

So, You Think You Know What a Story Is

Reading a story

If you do know, for God’s sake, tell me. I’m teaching a course in the fine art of blitzing a 1st draft and it occurred to me that I ought to know what a story is. A definition of story, I’ll start with that. A writer who knows exactly what a story is will write […]

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