New series on writing coming next week

I believe that there are three things you need to know to write stories. The better you know them, the better and more stories you’ll be able to write. Those three things are:

1. What stories do, i.e. what you’re trying to do as an author.

2. The principles of how character, setting, problem, plot, and text work to do those things.

3. The principles of coming up with and developing stories.

About this time last year I wrote my series on the key conditions for creating reader suspense, which went into depth on things 1 and 2. And I’ve written a bunch of other blogs on those topics. This year I’m going to be doing one on the key principles of getting and developing killer story ideas. I’ll be presenting it in a shortened form at this year’s League of Utah Writer’s roundup on Saturday (see my calendar for more details). One neat thing about this series is that I will have a number of other authors illustrate the principles with their own work. When learning this type of stuff, I don’t think we can’t get enough concrete examples. Keep your eyes open. I think it’s going to be a good one.

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6 Responses to New series on writing coming next week

  1. Steve Lewis says:

    The new series sounds great, John. I’m a little confused, though: In the last series at the end of the last structure post, you mentioned doing a post on scenes that I can’t seem to find. Am I just being dense here? That is a strong possible. =)

  2. I second the notion that the new series on getting and developing killer story ideas is an excellent one. We’re always working on various points of writing craft, but with “ideation” in particular its is important to re-examine and practice and experiment with.

    Have you thought about including the role that ideation can play in the rewrite process?

    Definitely looking forward to the series.

  3. Ben says:

    I’m so looking forward to this. You have some of the most thoughtful, commonsense, and well-explained advice on writing I’ve ever seen. You’re like Larry Brooks, only less wordy and more focused. You’re like Victoria Mixon only more sharing and modest. You’re like Kay Kenyon only more prolific with your advice. I’ll have to see if I can get to that LUW roundup!

  4. John Brown says:


    I was indeed planning on doing one on scenes, but just got buried. Maybe next year. Sometime I’ll also have to do one on text–transporting the reader.


    I haven’t found the process different in rewriting. Although maybe I’m not understanding what you’re thinking. Feel free to explain a bit more about what you mean.


    Glad to see you’ve taken my suggestion to laud the author. 😉 Actually, very happy to hear you’re finding them useful.

  5. John,

    I think you answered my unstated question 🙂

    I’m in the middle of a rewriting a short story, and, as is often the case these days, I find that I have to go back to the well and rethink my concepts, as well as character and story arcs, in light of what is on the page now and in terms of feedback I’ve received. In the case of my current Work-In-Progress, I realized that the emotional arc featuring the protagonist and another character needed to be rethought, along with the impact of the science fictional idea on their interaction. This meant brainstorming again, going through a Q&A process, and sketching out their arc once more.

    Doing this sort of thing with a 100K word novel would seem to take forever, although they scale somewhat differently, IMHO. I should add that I used to be close to a pure discovery writer, but in the last couple of years, thanks in part to various classes and workshops, I’ve become more an outliner, though now I’m seeing the limits of that approach before actually drafting. One of my teachers used to apply outlining and brainstorming in the revision process. Sounds like you are saying that, for you, the process of doing so in rewrite is really no different than before drafting.

  6. John Brown says:

    Correct. Invention is invention is invention. The only difference is that I’ve got a lot more material informing the process in the revision than I do when I start. But I still have an objective and am looking for solutions.