path of the storyteller / blog

the truth about point of view

 

Few topics cause writers as much consternation as point of view. What is it, exactly? Which one should you use? How are they different? Do you have to pick only one? And why is it so easy to go so wrong?

To be fair, much of the confusion about point of view comes from writers being told a bunch of stuff about it that’s simply not true.  Point of view is not just about pronouns. It’s the magic carpet of consciousness that transports the story that’s in your head to its new, forever home inside your reader’s head.

Sound deep? It is! Join me for what I hope is an illuminating discussion of that most metaphysical of writing craft topics.


My weekly livestream is on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live, you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here. 

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bring your characters to life

 

When Geppetto made Pinocchio, he began by using an enchanted piece of wood. This gave him a significant head start on the task of making a wooden boy seem so real he actually came to life!

Luckily, we writers have some enchanted materials of our own to work with. There’s no building material more flexible yet durable than storytelling.

But the process of turning mere marks on a page into characters who live and breathe and feel as real — okay, realer — than the people we know in “real life” certainly feels like magic!

How do we do it? That's the subject of this week’s discussion. Some points covered:

  • Why description is not what brings characters to life
  • The difference between your main character and the supporting cast
  • How character and story are inextricably linked

Many thanks to Path of the Storyteller follower Jaron for requesting this topic! 


My weekly livestream is on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and...

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to pants, or not to pants?

 

This week’s livestream unzips the age-old question: Is it okay to write by the seat of one’s pants?

To be, in a word, a Pantser?

Or does the golden road to “real” writing require the dreaded Outline? 

Pantsers and outliners, outliners and pantsers.... why can’t we all just get along? 

I love this question and have OPINIONS. Is it even necessary to choose? What if we are all both Pantsers and Outliners — just not at the same time?

Many thanks to Path of the Storyteller follower Mailli for sending in this excellent question! 


My weekly livestream is on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and ask questions! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live, you can join the Path of the Storyteller Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here.

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good writers make bad things happen

 

Look, I’m a nice person. I know you’re a nice person too. 

Yet when we put on our storyteller’s hats, being nice is a big mistake.

Think of it: Our protagonist is on a journey of meaningful change. What’s more likely to spur a life-altering transformation? 

  • An evening on the sofa under cozy blankets, complete with hot cocoa and Netflix?
  • Or an urgent, high-stakes journey way outside the comfort zone, overcoming one tough obstacle after the next?

We owe it to our heroes to put them through the wringer. But it’s not always easy to do! In today’s livestream I talk about:

  • why writers struggle to give up being nice
  • the trouble with “conflict” as the basis for scenes
  • how to keep crafting obstacles without being repetitive

Some great audience questions get addressed, too! Thanks to all who participated during the livestream, it made for a great discussion.


My weekly livestream is on...

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getting real about writing goals

 

Think back twelve months and tell me the truth: Did your writing practice make the progress in 2020 that you promised yourself it would? 

The correct answer? I don’t care and neither should you. We can give 2020 a pass. You know what impact this year had on you. It was different for each of us, but if you’re reading this, YOU WON. You're here. You made it. I'm sending you a virtual hug. 

Now, a new year is upon us. There’s a whiff of hope in the air. And what we’ve been through does not alter the fact that many of us are all too familiar with the feeling of setting writing goals that do not fully come to pass.

Are we undisciplined? Unrealistic? Un-whatever your personal demon is?

The answer may be less mysterious, and less personal, than all that. In this livestream I serve up some goal-setting realness for 2021. No more writing goals that get buried in “life got...

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your story, unwrapped

 

Keeping a present under wraps builds anticipation, for sure! But this kind of secrecy doesn’t work the same way in fiction.

In this week’s livestream, I talk about the common but mistaken impulse to withhold information from the reader as a way of building suspense, why it backfires, and what to do instead. 

Did you ever wonder what Charlie Brown’s quest for a Christmas tree has to do with dramatic structure? Now’s is your chance to find out! Click the image above to watch the video. Questions? Please leave them in the comments. 


My weekly livestream is on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific. Come live and ask questions! Or catch the replays here on the blog.

To watch live, you can join the Facebook group right here.

And subscribe to the YouTube channel here.

Continue Reading...

the messy art of revision

 

[live broadcast starts at about 1:00. Feel free to zip to it by dragging the little dot on the video playbar!]


We writers tend to have a love-hate relationship with revision. We can fall down a deep rabbit hole of tinkering with our draft to the point where it turns into procrastination — or we judge ourselves harshly for writing drafts that are imperfect to begin with.

This livestream dives deep into why revision is so necessary and so challenging. Some takeaways: 

  • where the secret wish to "get it right the first time" comes from
  • why significant revision is inevitable
  • how lucky we are to be writers, not sculptors!

In the follow-up questions, we talk further about the unrealistic beliefs that trip us up. Lots to ponder here! 


Remember: I’ll be broadcasting live on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday at 1 PM Pacific. Tune in for frank talk about writing. If you can show up live, you can ask questions, too.  Links...

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overrated originality

 

[live broadcast starts about at about 1:18. Feel free to zip to it by dragging the little dot on the video playbar!]


Hey, storytellers!  Today was the start of something really fun: I’ll be broadcasting live on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday at 1 PM Pacific. Tune in for frank talk about writing, and of course, if you can show up live, you can ask questions, too.  Links appear at the bottom of this post.

Today’s talk was a response to a great question that came in from one of my blog readers. In its essence: 

Why do all my story ideas feel like they’ve been done before?

Awesome question, right? In my answer, I talk about

  • why all stories are about the same thing
  • the shape, or structure, that all stories share
  • the truth about human nature that all stories strive to express

In the follow-up questions, we talk about what happens when other people compare your work to published books.

I also get into the question of...

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marathon

I’ve often said to my students: The biggest hurdle we writers face is not mastering the craft, or navigating the industry, or even finding the time and money to carry on writing.

Those are all real challenges, for sure. But they’re not the ones that threaten to scuttle the ship.

No. The biggest hurdle is managing our anxiety about the work. The inner monologue goes something like this:

Is it good? Am I good? Or at least, good enough? Will this be the book that gets finished? Will this be the one that lands me an agent? Will this be one that breaks out? Am I doing this writer thing right? Should I even be doing it at all?

The list goes on. Writers never seem to get writer’s block when it comes to penning words of self-doubt and second-guessing. 

Why so? It’s a big question. Here’s my short answer: The very nature of writing simulates consciousness. The voice in my head that feels like "me” finds expression in the words...

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the aftermath

We’ve been eating leftovers for two days. It’s the happy aftermath of the excess of cooking I succumbed to on Thanksgiving.

What can I say? I like to cook and it’s been a long year of no entertaining. Give me an inch and I took a mile. 

In your story, your hero too has overdelivered in the third act — and she too has something to show for it. She was willing to risk it all and sacrifice herself for the sake of others. She’s almost certainly had some kind of brush with death, either literally or symbolically.

She left it all on the field. And it has made a difference.

The struggle was not for nothing. Your hero’s journey of transformation was fulfilled. The change is irrevocable and full of meaning. What was lost has been found. That which needed healing has been healed. 

This is true not only of your hero, but of the larger world. A kingdom has been put right, a false or bad ruler has...

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