Where Stories Come From

The seed begins in a crack. Its first root pushes downward. Finding soft soil, it extends, or discovering a rock, it goes around. The root forks and each tendril explores, diverts, reaches deeper, and forks again. Real life is like that. It twists and bends, seeking and avoiding. It prospers in directions the environment allows, […]

Robert Carlson’s Ultimate Story Structure Chart

This shouldn’t be lost. Robert Carlson created a summary chart of thirteen (13) story structure overviews. Here’s his diagram (saved from a comment at reddit). Across the top, note the Act I, Act II (parts A and B), and Act III divisions. Squinting at the chart so the details blur, I can spot four structures […]

Learning Scrivener

Scrivener is for big writing such as novels and non-fiction books. It is also wonderful with briefer works such as short stories, blog posts, and things that start small but might later bloom. To cope with the big works, Scrivener can do a lot of things. And there’s the rub: like the works it supports, […]

Storylines in Scrivener

Introduction Over thousands of years, storytellers have learned two things about people: They listen, read, or watch stories as escape from their lives, and They will sympathize with characters who fight and defeat powerful enemies, or that fight but succumb to terrible injustices. Whether you are a Plotter who plans his stories before writing, or a […]

A Simple Book in Scrivener

Let’s say we just want to create a simple book, nothing fancy, with Scrivener. We have three chapters named In The Beginning, The Middle, and It End’th. In the first chapter, we have two scenes, one to get the action going, and a second in which all Hell breaks loose. (It writerly terms, that second […]

Why Scrivener Isn’t WYSIWYG

I started re-reading “The Compile Format Designer” chapter in the Scrivener Manual (Scrivener, Help -> Scrivener Manual, chapter 24) today. Note: The steps and screenshots that follow are for Scrivener 3.2.2 on a MacBook running MacOS Big Sur 11.2. If you have a different version or platform, some adjustments may be needed. To facilitate some experimentation, […]


If you know WYSIWYG, an abbreviation for What You See Is What You Get, you’ll remember that it promised to put the same thing on paper that you saw on the screen. That is, whatever your text looked like on the computer’s LCD, that’s what it’d look like on paper. In the dawn of text […]

Rules o’ Ritin’

There’s lots of them, of course: punctuation, word choice, active versus passive voice and all that. Here’s one I just figured out: When you’re writing the draft, write the draft. The key point? DON’T EDIT! Just write. Don’t look at the screen. Don’t re-read what you just wrote. Don’t “fix” anything. Just write. Why, you […]

NaNoWriMo Approacheth

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost here. [Sounds of gnashing teeth, scribbling pencils, fingernails on mouse pads and, most importantly, the repeated sharp “crack” as the slave driver limbers up his whip.] Since 1999, this annual event has helped motivate authors, including lots of wannabes like myself, complete book-length 50,000 word pieces in the […]

Adverb’s Disease

Beware! My writing is afflicted with a horrible disease. Adverb’s Disease shows as weak little words attached to verbs. They add nothing to the story and just take up space and time. A pure waste of ink! Diagnosed by one of the reviewers at this week’s Writers Workshop, I searched for words ending in “ly” in my […]