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 […]

Why You Shouldn’t Worry about Thinking outside the Box

No one should worry about thinking outside the box. Because THINKING is the box! Worry about that, instead. As fiction writers, we needn’t worry personally about the existential angst that “thinking is the box!” might stir up. But we should concern ourselves with how “thinking” relates to the journeys of our characters. And it goes […]

What Makes a Book Worth Reading

Caitlin Hicks

What makes a book worth reading? A Theory of Expanded Love, for instance. This coming-of-age novel by Caitlin Hicks plays out in the months between two famous deaths—Pope John XXIII and President Kennedy, in 1963. I caught up with Caitlin Hicks to discuss issues important to fiction writers. “What’s your book about, Caitlin? What’s its […]

How (un)Smart Should a Writer Be?

How unSmart 2

If you’ve been reading my deep travel tales, you’ll know how un-smart I am. Count the times I’ve been run down on the road less traveled! I was barely home from my travels in Africa and Asia when the gods pulled a U-turn and made roadkill of me yet again. I was filming in the […]

How the Best Stories End (Part II)

Beyond Story Structure

How to fulfill an audience? I mean, really fulfill. I think I know what nourishes me. The romantic genre, for example. Boy meets girl – boy loses girl – boy gets girl back. We’re meant to swoon at the “getting back.” And we do, sure, kind of. But honestly, do we consume fiction to see […]

How Good Stories End

The_Two_Faces_of_January_film_poster

[Previously titled: “And Love Has its Way with the World”] I’m not saying that The Two Faces of January is a great movie. But the Viggo Mortensen character serves to show how many good stories end. It goes like this… And love has its way with the world. You don’t hear it, no one says […]

Every Story Is an Escape Story

Escape Title shot

Here’s a story theory of mine worth checking out: http://writetodone.com/facts-of-fiction/ …published today on the Write to Done website. I mean it when I say, “Check it out.” The next film you see or novel or read, examine it for the escape story it most probably is. And if you’re writing a story, see if your […]

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