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1. You admire a character for trying more than for their OWN successes.


2.  Keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, might not what’s fun to do as a writer. writing for either can be very different.


3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.


4. Once upon a time there was ___.

Every day, ___,

then ___,

and ___.

One day, ___.

Because of that, ___.

And Because of that, ___.

Until finally, ___.


5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.


6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.


8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.


9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.


13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.


15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.


16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.


18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.


19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.


20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How you rearrange them into what you DO like?

21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. how would they really respond?


22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Summary of the Hero’s Journey:


Summary of the Hero's Journey:

  1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where

  2. they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE.

  3. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but

  4. are encouraged by a MENTOR to

  5. CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World,

  6. they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.

  7. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second

  8. where they endure the ORDEAL.

  9. They take possession of their REWARD and

  10. are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.

  11. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.

  12. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World.


From The Writers Journey, Mythic Structure For Writers, 2nd Edition, by Christopher Vogler.


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