“A story cannot be told about a protagonist who doesn’t want anything, who cannot make decisions, whose actions effect no change at any level.” — Robert McKee, Story

Imagine reading a story where the protagonist doesn’t want anything, doesn’t care about anything, and you have no idea what motivates them. That’s probably a book you’re going to put down pretty quickly. Why? Because you aren’t engaged in that story!

As we read, we want to cheer for the protagonist. We want to feel like we’re fighting alongside them as they’re taking down that evil corporation, as they’re breaking free from…


So many writers obsess over the very first line of their story. If I can just get this right, they think, I’ll grab my readers attention and they’ll be hooked!

While this isn’t wrong by any means, many writers spend way too much time focusing on that first sentence and not enough on considering the role of the whole beginning scene. What results is a punchy few paragraphs, but an overall weak introduction to your story.

The first scene of your story should let readers know what kind of journey they’re about to embark on while at the same time…


Stories are about journeys of change. Readers want to see how your flawed main character will fight for what they want, how their weaknesses will hold them back, and how they’ll overcome those weaknesses in the end.

For an effective character arc to work, you need your character to transform throughout the narrative, starting in one place and struggling against their inner demons, until they finally see the light and reach a higher version of themselves.

Specifically, their beliefs about themselves and/or the world change. They start the story with an Internal Obstacle, a flawed belief or mindset, and end…


Stories are about change — specifically, they are about how characters change. Characters are the heart and soul of any story, which means that we should develop the story around them — starting with your protagonist.

Readers engage in good stories when they know what the protagonist wants and why it matters to them. They become invested in the character’s struggles and successes as they pursue those goals, rather than the plot itself. Readers want to see the main character change. We want to see them fail, learn, and ultimately succeed. …


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. …


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…


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. …


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…


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…


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…

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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