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Where Teens Write is closing its doors as a teen writing community, but the “how to write” blog posts will be up for another few weeks.
I’m happy to announce that you can post your stories and get feedback over at Teen Author’s Journal. Like WTW, it’s a smaller community where you can build relationships with others and hone your writing skills.
It’s been a great few years with all of you, but it’s time to close the doors to this community. If you did post stories here that you didn’t save anywhere else, and you’d like them, you may contact me using the contact page, and I’ll get you your story. Thank you for participating.
All the best,

Story Elements

As discussed in the first post in this villain series, the whole purpose of your antagonist is to oppose your protagonist/main character (MC). In the second post, I talked about how to develop your villain so that their opposing your main character is believable and makes sense. It’s super important to develop great villains, to [...]

In the first post in this villain series, I defined an antagonist and also discussed when to introduce your antagonist (hint – right at the beginning of your story). This post is all about how to develop a solid villainous character. Stephen King, in his novel Misery, developed one of the all time great villains in contemporary [...]

Every great story has a powerful and hateful villain. Or do they? The answer to that question is actually much more complicated than it might seem at first glance. So, in honor of the Christmas season and one of my favorite all-time villains, The Grinch, I’m kicking off a three part series on antagonists. A [...]

Have you ever read the last few chapters of a book extra slowly because you weren’t yet ready to say goodbye to the characters? Can you list favorite characters that you have fallen deeply and irrevocably in love with? I’m willing to bet that if you’re a reader, you can. We all can. My list [...]

How do you tie together multiple POV’s?

This summer, I started reading the wildly popular Game of Thrones in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin yet again. I’ve started it two other times but never could get into the story. This time, I stuck with it and am finally enjoying it, but it took until past [...]

Starting a new story or novel is one of the most exciting parts of writing…and also one of the most challenging. There’s so much to think about: How to “hook” your reader? Where or when does your story start? What characters should be on the first page? These are huge decisions that will dictate the [...]

Have you ever read (or written) a story where you or your readers have a difficult time picturing the action and the setting? The writer is so focused on the characters, dialogue, and action, that they forget to tell us where the characters are. It’s like the characters are floating heads. They’re talking and acting…somewhere [...]

How to Develop a Sub-Plot

Having lots going on in a story sounds like it’ll make the story that much more interesting right? It might, but first you have to know what kind of plot additions you’re going to make. There are both plot layers and sub-plots and while the terms sound similar, other than both have to do with [...]

Develop your Story with Plot Layers

Every good story is, at its heart, a conflict, and your job as the writer is to throw as many obstacles and conflict in front of your character as you can as they strive to achieve their overall story goal. But, you can deepen those conflicts and make them even that much more interesting by [...]

This past week I decided to start a new project. I’ve had  a few brewing around in my head for awhile, but I felt like I should finish revising another project first. But I didn’t feel like revising anything. (That’s a whole other story about no more “shoulding on myself”) Sooo…what happened? I haven’t been [...]

How to End Your Story – the Resolution

I began this series on Essential Elements of Plot way back at the beginning of the summer, but I never finished it. Why? Because I found my own life completely yo-yo-ing as my husband underwent a major medical crisis, and I found I couldn’t write a piece on “resolution” when my own life was in [...]

Using HONY to Create a Character

“HONY? What the heck is that?” You might be asking. HONY stands for Humans of New York, and it is (in my mind) one of the greatest blogs EVER. This past week, a WTW’er posted a great poem  about how we, as humans, often base our judgements of others on appearances. The poem reminded me [...]

Add Reaction to Develop your Characters

Do you choose your friends for their actions? Are you first drawn to them based on how they look? Or, do you choose them for their personality? I’m guessing it’s probably a little bit of all of those things. Now, think about your favorite character(s) from a novel. What do you like about them? Is it [...]

The setting of a story is one of those fiction elements that we imagine vividly in our heads but sometimes it’s hard to remember to put it down on paper. In my writing group, when I read a piece that has great dialogue and solid action, I’m always the one who asks, “Now, where are [...]

Some Useful Plot Structure Definitions

When I first found my way back to writing after putting it aside for far too long (during my entire twenties and thirties), I discovered a whole world of “writing terms” that I’d never heard when I wrote as a young girl and teen. As a reader, I intuitively knew what these terms were, but [...]

3 Strategies for Writing a Great Climax

The Climax – this scene is often the most fun to write (for me at least), but have you ever struggled to make sure it is as exciting as it can be and it also ties up all the conflicts? This is the scene that’s in your head when you start your story, that exciting [...]

Three Story Plotting Strategies

Last week my writing group had an interesting discussion. One of the members just sold her most recent novel to a publisher who wants a sequel within six months. My writing buddy has been busily plotting and planning the story. She swears by her plotting method which involves lengthy spreadsheets filled with character and scene notes. [...]

Everyday, we make mundane decisions. What will we have for breakfast? What clothes should we wear? What book should we read next? Some decisions we make might feel like major life decisions at the time, but they’re really not that big of a deal, like if we should go on a date with someone we’re not [...]

In the 1900’s, a German novelist named Gustav Freytag came up with the plot pyramid, and his basic structure for organizing a story still stands today. In fact, it’s often taught in schools as a way to analyze plot. Do you recognize this? I’m guessing you probably do! We usually learn this as a tool [...]

If you’ve ever told a good story to your friends that had them captivated, you intuitively understand STORY. Whether your story was about what you did last weekend, what happened to your family on your disaster of a vacation, or even what tragedy befell your pet, if they’re hooked, you’ve nailed the five key plot [...]

I’ve spent the last week reading a stack of short stories all written by super talented teen writers. They had believable characters, funny and realistic dialogue, and interesting conflicts and plots. But, well over half of the stories suffered from the same problem. What was it? They had giant chunks of back story which bogged them [...]

One of the basic tenets of story telling is that a character in a story must have a goal. It gives the plot a structure. Characters are always trying to achieve something, whether its to kill the most evil wizard of all time (Harry Potter), love deeply and live fully before dying (Hazel in The [...]

What is a Character Arc?

Is a character arc a giant boat for characters that Noah built? Or perhaps it’s a lovely arched rainbow for our characters to walk through? Nope, it’s none of those. A character arc refers to how a character changes through a story. Your characters, especially the main characters, should experience some sort of change throughout [...]

Should you outline your stories?

If you don’t consider yourself a planner, and you are writing a single scene short story, go ahead and start writing. These are much easier to revise since you don’t have multiple characters, sub-plots, and plot layers. However, if you’re writing a longer piece, like a novel, you should plan WAY more than you think. [...]

Like many elements of writing, understanding a concept can be a very different thing than actually applying and executing it in your writing. Voice is no different. You can understand the idea of voice, but how do you develop it? How do you make your writing sound like YOU and not ___________ (fill in the [...]

I wrote a post a few months ago about How to Start a Story which goes into detail about what to include on the first few pages of a longer piece or a novel. The “4 C’s and a Q” are super important to include, but I’ve read quite a few teen short stories over [...]

Three Types of Short Stories

Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a sophomore. She felt like she had a great character for a short story, but she couldn’t “fit” her character into what she thought was the “mandatory” story structure of a character having a goal, facing obstacles and conflict, and then either achieving or failing to achieve [...]

Have you ever struggled to come up with ideas that you could develop into a short story? It can be tough. I actually find developing ideas for novels somewhat easier than ideas for a short story. A story needs to do all the things a novel does: develop characters, have a clear conflict, a plot, [...]

An Awesome List of WTW’s 2014 Blog Posts

Throughout 2014, we posted on the blog (almost) every Thursday. The posts included both creative writing instruction and inspiration for all you teen writers out there Reviewing all of the posts was actually kind of fun, and I was surprised at how much content is on the site from 2014. Check some of the posts [...]

Character Backstory – What is it?

Backstory…it’s a word that’s thrown around as crucial to solid character development, but what is it and why is it important? What is Backstory? A character’s backstory is the story of their life, their whole background. Where did they come from? Who’s their family? What experiences and events have shaped their life? Think about your [...]

Starting a new project is often the most exciting stage. As creative writers, we get to put our imaginations to work dreaming up witty and fun characters, fantastic settings, conflicts that would destroy anyone but our stalwart protagonist, and plot twists that readers never see coming. We get it all planned and then sit down [...]

Conveying Emotion Writing Exercise

Conveying emotion can be a challenge when writing. For example, if your character is named John, you don’t want to say, “John is sad,” or “John jumped excitedly.” That’s, well, boring and weak writing. This writing exercise can help you practice conveying emotion. First, think of a situation your character might be in. For example, [...]

Three Strategies to Develop your Plot Ideas

Nano is almost upon us, and if you’re participating in this month long frenzy of writing, you’re probably working on figuring out what is going to happen in your story. This can be an overwhelming task. You can either have way too many plot ideas floating around in your creative head, or you don’t have [...]

Developing Creative Story Ideas

The issue of uniquely creative story ideas and originality has come up several times in the last few weeks, both here on WTW and in class. Here’s what teen writers have been telling me: “I had this great idea, but then I realized (or a friend pointed out) that it sounds like ______________, so now [...]

Character Basics: Character Archetypes

When you’re creating a character, the most important step is to figure out what they are like: their purpose, personality, quirks, and voice. The list can go on and on. So, where do you start? I like to start with character archetypes because they give characters their purpose in the story, and they are also [...]

Every story has a cast of characters. Some have huge casts like the Harry Potter series which, according to Wikipedia, has over 600 characters. Some popular stories have much smaller casts, like The Hunger Games which has fewer than fifty. The question is…how do writers come up with all these characters? Six Places to Find Good [...]

Once you’ve figured out what your characters look like, it’s time to name them. Surprisingly, I’ve found this more difficult than naming live babies because once you name a baby, you can’t really change your mind. But, you can change your mind when it comes to a naming a character. Many of my main characters [...]

Ah, characters…any writing book, class, writer, writing blog, writing teacher, writing website (you get the idea) will tell you about characters and characterization. Why is that? It’s because CHARACTERS are one of the pillars of fiction. Without characters what do you have? You have a setting. It might be a super exciting, apocalyptic setting, but [...]

In the most interesting stories, characters change. In fact, that’s a basic tenet of good storytelling: a character should end up in a different place emotionally from where they started. Think about Harry Potter. He starts off the series as an eleven year old boy who feels unloved and not at all like someone who [...]

Look around your room, or if you’re not in it, think about it. What does it say about you? Is it neat and tidy? Do your clothes hang in neatly color-coordinated chunks in your closet? Or, is there a layer of dirty (or clean) clothes covering the floor? Do you have stinky cleats and workout [...]

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