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As readers, we’re engaged in a story’s plot because we know what the main character wants and why — and we’re dying to find out how far they’ll go to get it. We’re not engaged in the plot itself, but rather how it affects and influences the characters we’ve come to love. This means we must plan, plot, and write our stories with our characters front of mind.

What is a character arc?

Stories are about change. Specifically, they’re about how your main character changes as a result of the story’s plot events. …


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Stories are about change. Specifically, stories are about how characters change. We love stories so much because we are able to see ourselves in the main character, and we learn as they learn.

You’ve probably spent a lot of time working on your main character — the protagonist whose journey of change the reader experiences. You likely know your main character inside and out, and you know exactly how they’ll grow throughout the story.

However, many writers overlook the importance of the antagonist and their role in the story, spending less time and effort on creating this character. An antagonist…


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It’s so fun to start a new story. You’re in the honeymoon phase, crafting characters that make your heart twinge and throwing challenges their way to make them squirm. You’re exploring new worlds, casts and themes. It’s exhilarating — until you hit that inevitable 20–25% mark. Suddenly it’s time to launch into Act Two and you’re paralyzed.

There’s a reason so many writers lose their way and motivation in Act Two. …


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Building secondary characters is incredibly fun. Who doesn’t love dreaming up a romantic interest? Brainstorming unique characteristics for a mentor? Crafting the sass of the sidekick and best friend? We love plucking quirky, vibrant people from the recesses of our minds — but simply crafting interesting people isn’t enough. Secondary characters are more than just plot devices, comedic relief, or world building tools…

Secondary characters should be in conversation with the themes your story explores and the internal journey your character is on.

At the core of every great story are two key concepts: the story’s point and the main character’s internal obstacle. Your story point is the message you want readers to take away, it’s the core theme of…


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We don’t read action scenes for the action. We don’t read romance for the kissing scenes. We’re not sucked into stories because we want to know what crazy stuff will happen in the plot. Rather, we’re glued to the pages of stories when we’re dying to know what characters we’ve come to love will do when faced with crazy plot events.

We are MOST attracted to characters who change over the course of a story, characters who are forced to face their flaws, because these characters are unpredictable.

When crazy shit happens, we don’t know what they’re going to do…


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Writers need outside eyes on our stories. External feedback will identify what we’re doing well, and where our stories need work. Working with a professional editor is one of the most efficient ways to improve our skills and write the best we can. However, we also need to work with editors that we trust and that will help us tell the story we envision, rather than overwriting our voice.

Finding the right editor can be overwhelming! The options seem endless, the cost of the investment is likely high, and it feels like you’re taking a chance no matter who you…


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Creating a magic system is one of the most fun parts of worldbuilding in speculative fiction because you can really let your imagination run wild! However, it’s very easy to go off the rails and create a system that ultimately serves no purpose in your story.

So many worldbuilding resources simply interrogate the details of your magic system. These worksheets and checklists rarely consider the why behind your magic system or attempt to connect it to your story’s message or theme.

To make sure that your readers take away the full impact of your story’s message, it is essential that…


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You finished your first draft!

As soon as you came down from the adrenaline of typing “The End,” I’m willing to bet that your resistance went into overdrive. You started to sweat, your pulse spiked, and the voices began to whisper “What is this piece of junk anyway?” in your mind.

Stop right there. For your first draft, your only job was to finish it. That’s it. Do you know how many people in the world wish they could say they’ve done what you just did? Do you know how many unfinished manuscripts are out there gathering dust? You’ve actually…


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We read stories so we can experience another person’s journey of change and learn from it. We connect with rich characters that strive to achieve a goal, but must struggle against an internal lie or obstacle that’s holding them back first. As we plan our protagonist’s journey, we aim to craft character arcs that emphasize this change and serve to prove our story’s message. However, many writers overlook the importance of the antagonist’s character arc.

The antagonist’s character arc can be just as powerful as the protagonist’s.

Zuko, an antagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA), is a prime example…


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We read stories for characters, not plot. The most engaging and moving stories of all time center around a character who is desperately striving to achieve or obtain something, but can’t do so until they face the thing inside them that’s holding them back.

At the end of these powerful stories, the character who’s been failing, succeeding, and learning throughout their journey faces a climax moment decision — the plot forces them to choose between who they used to be and what they used to believe, and the person they’ve become as a result of their journey through the story…

Golden May | Book Coaching & Editing

We’re Emily & Rachel. We help tenacious writers level up their stories & skills⁣. Are you ready to #writebetter?✨.

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