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 […]

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 […]

“The HEART doesn’t show up as a structural element in most fiction formulas” ~ a Tweet

Are you searching heart

The fact that the Heart doesn’t show up in most fiction formulas is meant to alarm writers. One reader must have become alarmed after reading it in my new article: THE HEART OF THE STORY: What Is it, Where Is it, and How Do We Get There? I’m grateful to writer, Rahma Krambo, for Tweeting […]

Traveling Light on the Writer’s Journey

Travel Light

The writer’s journey. The hero’s journey. Springtime and the open road. Road stories! I’m itching to recount my stories of the road—in Africa, India, Pakistan, Alberta, Samoa, Greece, Scotland, Italy, the high Arctic, New Zealand. In my last post we didn’t get far before I ran into the bees. Next up is an encounter with […]

How to Unhook from the “How-to” Habit

Reese hitch

Anyone feel they haven’t read enough “how-to” books on writing? Claudia in Mendoza, Argentina, says she hasn’t finished reading John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. Go for it, Claudia—Gardner is one of my favourites. But before you go, take two minutes to consider my argument for becoming a writer from the inside out. First, a confession: […]

If You Hate Story Structure

I hate story structure

I was browsing Amazon’s Kindle Store this morning. In the Story Structure Department I noticed a drama unfolding: “Writing by the rules” vs. “Organic writing.” On  one side it’s all structure and story engineering while the other camp is chanting, Don’t get it right, get it written! But hold on a minute. The traditionalists insist […]

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