Microtension: What is it and how do we get it onto the page?

People talk like microtension began and now idles with Donald Maass.  For Maass, microtension boils down to a conflict…a juxtaposition…a clashing of things, preferably emotions, but also ideas, concepts, anticipations, whatever–whatever’s available for contradiction in your story.  But is there more? More guidance? Continue reading

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Filed under Emotion, hooks, literary devices, Microtension, Voice

Hooks Big and Small–How the Masters Do It

We looked at hooks last week, both concept hooks that pique our initial interest in a story and in-story hooks that keep us engaged from start to finish. Today we’re looking at how a few New York Times bestsellers hook us.  Continue reading

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Filed under Concept, hooks, Microtension, One-Line Synopsis, Story Master Wednesday, Voice

Story Hooks: What are they?

In the last post, we discussed how the most important element in a logline is often the element that reveals the story’s hook(s).  But what is a hook?  Let’s find out. Continue reading


Filed under Concept, hooks, Microtension, Monday Tool Day, Voice

Logline Revisited: Are some components more significant than others?

I got a comment the other day, on the post about NYTBS one-line synopses, asking whether the significance of each logline component varies according to the sort of story it’s describing.  Also requested was a list of the components ordered by most significance. These are great questions, and my answers ended up being pretty long (almost 8,000 words), so I thought I’d upgrade it from comment to post. Continue reading


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Rhythm and Sequences: How Graeme Simsion does it

We’ve been looking at the rolling, mid-level rhythm of story, and how sequences might be the way to achieve that.  The Bestseller Code* gave us a list of the top ten books with good rhythms (none of which were as good/steady as TDC* and FSoG*).

The book I picked from the list to test the sequences=rhythm theory–the theory that sequences are the path to purposely developing this rhythm–was Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project,* and I think it was a good choice for several reasons. Continue reading

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Filed under Plot, Story Master Wednesday

Sequences: What are they?

Last updated 2.18.20

Last post, I said I’d do a master storyteller post, or three, on Rhythm.  Well, I found that I needed more guidance. Continue reading

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Rhythm in Plotting: The Bestseller’s best-kept secret – Part 2

We’re looking at how to create the regular, rhythmic beat that The Bestseller Code says exists in the top two bestselling adult books of all time, Fifty Shades of Gray and The Da Vinci Code.

When we left off last week, we were wondering how, specifically, to create this rhythm. Continue reading


Filed under Emotion, literary devices, Plot

Rhythm in Plotting: The bestseller’s best-kept secret – Part 1

Have you read The Bestseller Code*?

The authors, Jodie Archer & Matthew L. Jockers, say that the two bestselling adult books of all time–Fifty Shades of Gray* and The Da Vinci Code*–share a “regular rhythmic beat” that no other books share, at least not as closely.

Whether coincidence or not, don’t you kind of want to know how to create that regular rhythmic beat in your WIP? Continue reading

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Filed under Monday Tool Day, Plot

An Interview with Craft Master H. R. D’Costa

Oh, People, have I got a treat for you! Continue reading

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Filed under Tuesday Interviews Day

Character Introductions: In our own work

Almost done with Character!  We’ve been looking at how to select details to best convey characterization.  Last week we came up with some details for Amos Anderson, the main character of one of the stories we’ve been developing.  Now let’s use those details as fodder for his introduction using the seven methods of character introduction that we outlined a few weeks ago. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Own Work Friday