Posts in Story Elements
How to Utilize Motifs In Your Fiction

Motifs can serve several powerful purposes in storytelling.

Yet because motifs are often discussed in literary and academic circles, many genre-fiction writers fail to explore the potential of this powerful literary device — but literary devices aren’t for literary writers alone. Flashbacks, foreshadowing, mood, imagery, metaphor, and suspense are all literary devices that, among other examples, are commonly employed by genre and literary writers alike.

How, then, can all writers utilize motifs to strengthen the quality of their storytelling? Let’s dive deep into this topic today, writers!

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How to Weave Threads of Tension Through Your Story

Every story is a carefully woven tapestry of tensions.

And while narrative tensions can vary in both nature and magnitude, every form of tension has the power to create dissonance that’s vital to a story’s success. It’s this dissonance, the divide between a character and an object of their desire, that will keep readers turning pages, eager to see how tensions will resolve.

But not all threads of tension are created equal — and some are far too easy to snap. How can you ensure a deft hand as you weave a little necessary tension through the pages of your book? Let’s discuss a few key techniques today, writer!

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Should You Include a Prologue in Your Story?

Ah, the Great Prologue Debate. Should they or should they not have a place in fiction?

The necessity of prologues (or lack thereof) is a topic that’s frequently discussed in online writing circles, and today I’d like to add my two cents to the clamor. You see, I feel pretty strongly about the power of a prologue well written. It’s a story element I’ve enjoyed time and time again as a reader, and also one that I’ve worked to emulate in many of my own stories.

Why do I think that prologues have their place? And what defines a prologue as well-written in my eyes? Allow me to share my thoughts with you in today’s article, writers.

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Combatting Common World-Building Pitfalls

Let’s talk about world-building, writers!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve broken down several key world-building elements here on the blog, including the development of fictional cultures, languages, and magic systems — all to celebrate the arrival of World-Building Warrior, our latest writing workbook here at Well-Storied.

Today, however, I’d like to talk less about how to develop your fictional world and more about the common pitfalls that threaten to derail many writers’ world-building success. Shall we dive in?

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How to Create a Magic System in Six Simple Steps

Abracadabra, alakazam! Let’s talk about crafting magic systems today, writers.

Though not every speculative fiction story needs be threaded with magic, adding a few fantastical powers to your story world can be a fun way to liven up the narrative. In many cases, magical powers also symbolize bigger themes, serving as a vehicle for conversations about privilege, oppression, pride, and other compelling topics.

No matter your approach, building an original and believable magic system requires a good amount of time and care. Let’s work together today to gift our characters some incredible powers, shall we?

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My Top Tips for Utilizing Fictional Language in Your Stories

Let’s face it: Tolkien set the bar pretty high as far as constructed languages go. 

Whether you’ve considered outlining an entire conlang (that’s world-building slang for “constructed language”) or are simply looking to use a few invented words to liven up your story world, knowing how best to approach the construction of a fictional language is daunting to say the least. 

Is the use of conlang really necessary? How much detail should you put into crafting your fictional language? And how in the world can you incorporate it in a way that feels natural and believable to readers? Let’s talk about all this and more in today’s article, writer!

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An Easy Guide to Crafting Fictional Cultures

Let's dive deep into the world-building process, shall we?

Whether you're crafting an entire story world or delving into an alternative or fantastical reality here on Earth, developing fully-realized fictional cultures is key to fantastic world-building. But cultures are rather complex, nebulous beasts. Their ever-evolving nature can make them especially tricky to nail down.

So, what elements define culture? And just how much time and attention should you put into creating your own? Let's discuss all this and more in today's breakdown, writers!

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How to Craft Immersive Setting Descriptions

Writer, it’s time to give life to your story! 

One of the most powerful ways to breath life into the pages of your book is to immerse readers in your story world, specifically through crafting lush, evocative descriptions of your story’s settings. But that’s easier said than done, isn’t it?

In today’s article, we’re going to cover how to choose the most impactful settings for each of your story’s scenes, as well as my top tips for bringing those settings to life via immersive descriptive writing. Sound good? Let’s dive in!

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How to Frame Scenes Like a Filmmaker

Have you ever thought about writing fiction with filmmaking in mind?

This certainly isn’t a concept I originated. Rather, I recently rediscovered it after reading Diana Gabaldon’s I Give You My Body, her guide to writing intimate scenes, in which she discusses framing the scenes in her books as though she were shooting a film. 

Having taken a few communications classes in my day—all of which involved a good bit of camera work—the idea of framing scenes with filmmaking in mind is advice that I not only find interesting, but believe may be vastly helpful to many writers looking to improve their craft. Sound like something you’d enjoy? Let’s kick off today’s discussion!

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How to Create Strong Pacing For Your Story

Books are a bit like amusement park rides. 

They come in all shapes and sizes and even levels of thrill, with enough variation that there are few who don’t enjoy any sort of ride at all. But there is one element that all rides must have if they're to succeed: an expectation of pace.

Fast rides fly. Slow rides meander. But it’s rare that a ride will catapult between high and low speeds until the rider begs to be removed. Why? Well, the intense change in pacing would leave most riders bewildered—and likely a bit nauseated, too.

The same goes for stories that lack consistent pacing. So let's avoid bewildering, and perhaps even nauseating, our readers, shall we? Buckle up, writers. We’re about to go for a ride!

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How to Craft Riveting Internal Conflict For Your Story

Conflict is the backbone of any good story.

External conflict, which we broke down recently here on the blog, occurs between a character and an outside force, whether that be another character or an element of nature, society, or technology. On the other hand, internal conflict arises from an ethical or emotional debate that occurs within a character.

This style of conflict, while occurring in some form in every story, has the same ability to carry the full weight of a plot as external conflict. But how? Well, let’s discuss internal conflict together today!

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Breaking Down The Four Main Types of External Conflict

Conflict drives narrative.

As humans, our curiosity piques when two forces oppose one another. “What is happening?”, we ask. Why are these two forces at odds? How will the conflict play out? Who will win? What would I do if I were in that situation?

These are the questions readers ask, more or less subconsciously, as they read. Which means they’re also exactly the kinds of questions writers should ask themselves when crafting plots for their stories.

In stories, as in life, there are two types of conflict: internal and external. Internal conflicts are the mental, emotional, or spiritual struggles a person faces—Character vs Self—which we’ll talk about on the blog soon!

Today, however, we’re going to focus on the second type of struggle: external conflict. Shall we dive into the breakdown? 

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Five Ways to Frame Your Story

You have a story idea, and you’re ready to write. But have you thought much about how you’ll frame your story?

Subjective storytelling is the framework most commonly found in modern literature, and it's perhaps the most obvious way writers think to tell their stories. With a subjective framework, writers utilize a limited point-of-view (i.e. the story is told solely via the main character's thoughts and experiences) to immerse readers in the main character’s journey.

But this style of storytelling isn’t the only way in which you can frame your story for success. What are your other options, and which is best for your novel? Let’s break down five alternative frameworks today!

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How to Utilize Clothing as a Powerful Storytelling Tool (a #StorySocial recap)

Hello, friends! Time for another #StorySocial recap. In case you're new here (or if you've just yet to hear about our chats), allow me to cue you in: #StorySocial is the weekly Twitter chat that I host every Wednesday at 9pm Eastern.

Each week we get together for about an hour to chat about a fun writerly topic. This past Wednesday, we talked about food in fiction and why it can serve as a powerful storytelling tool.

Did you miss out? Couldn't make it? Forgot all about it? No worries! I'm sharing a recap of this week's chat below. Check it out!

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How to Raise the Stakes in Your Story

Let’s raise the stakes!

Keeping readers engaged in your story is, of course, paramount. And one of the easiest ways to ensure readers keep turning pages is to thread your novel with powerful stakes. 

Raising the stakes means making sure your characters always have something to lose.

For them, something important is at risk. And that risk can have a huge impact, heightening your story’s conflict, adding thrilling tension and suspense, revealing new truths about your characters, propelling their emotional journeys forward, and more!

But how do you go about building powerful stakes for your story? And how can you raise the stakes when your story seems to be running out of steam? Let’s dive in to today’s breakdown!

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How To Choose and Build a Powerful Theme for Your Story

There are many approaches to theme. 

While literary novels are built on the foundations of their themes, many genre writers struggle to embrace all that a good theme has to offer.

For those who write to thrill or entertain, discussing theme often brings to mind images of authors using their fiction to beat readers over the head with some sort of message. Preaching from the pages, if you will.

Today, I'm here to not only combat this misconception, but to teach you how to choose a powerful theme that you can easily integrate into your novel---one that will make your story all the more spectacularly memorable.

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Should you include an epigraph in your novel?

Have you ever noticed the small quotations at the beginning of a book or its chapters?

Those are called epigraphs, and they can include a short quotation, saying, poem, or paragraph of prose. Including an epigraph before some or all chapters in a book isn't a necessary ingredient for baking up a brilliant story, but they can be useful for several reasons.

What do those reasons include, and should you include an epigraph (or maybe several of them) in your book? Let's dive into today's quick and dirty breakdown!

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How to Choose Your Novel's Point-Of-View & Tense

How you choose to structure and style your story's prose can make all the difference.

Two of the biggest elements that affect your prose are, of course, point-of-view and tense. Does it really matter if you write your book in first-person or third-person? In past or present tense? In some cases, yes. In fact, point-of-view and tense are a bit like the clothes you wear each day. They may not change who you are, but they do affect others' impressions of you. 

And a good first impression can make all the difference, right? So today, writers, we're going to explore the kinds of impressions point-of-view and tense can make and how you can be sure to choose the right option for your story!

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19 Ways to Write Better Dialogue

For years, I struggled deeply with dialogue. 

As a new writer, it was the bane of my existence. I hadn’t a clue how to delve into my characters’ voices, to write conversations that felt natural and true-to-character while also moving my story forward. To avoid staring my own weakness in the face, I often wrote the fiction equivalent of silent films. (But even those had dialogue, didn't they? Bah!)

Finally, one day, I realized I didn’t want my weaknesses as a writer to hold my stories back a moment longer. I wanted to improve my craft, and that meant improving my dialogue, too. Soon, I began studying every resource I could find, examining how skilled authors crafted incredible conversations. Today, writer, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned with you!

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An Introduction to World-Building

If there's anything I've learned as a writer, it's that building a fictional world is easier said than done.

When well-developed, a fictional world feels realistic and approachable, even if it contains otherworldly elements such as magic or time travel. But behind the approachable facade lies the blood, sweat, and tears of the world's creator, who hand-crafted everything from its geography, religions, cultures, technologies, political systems, and more. 

Each of these elements affects how the story's characters see and experience their world, and so writers who are looking to craft incredible fictional worlds of their own can't afford to skimp on the details. But just what details should be considered? Let's break them down in today's introductory guide to world-building! 

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