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The Timeless Power of Universal Themes in Fiction

As avid readers and writers of fiction, we often find ourselves drawn to stories that leave an indelible mark on our hearts and minds. Have you ever wondered what makes certain stories stand the test of time, resonating with audiences across the globe, regardless of cultural or geographical differences?

The answer lies in the artful incorporation of universal themes—the bedrock upon which the most enduring and impactful stories are built.

What Are Universal Themes?

Universal themes are timeless, fundamental ideas that are shared by humans collectively and individually. They are the threads that connect the human experience, delving into emotions, beliefs, and values that resonate with people from all walks of life. Continue Reading…

How to Show Meaningful Character Action in Dialogue Scenes

This is such an important aspect to writing dialogue, I want to share this post with you that I wrote many years ago. Too many writers fail to show what their characters are doing while conversing, and coming up with a great THAD is the key to success!

Back when I wrote the book (with four other authors) 5 Editors Tackle the 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing, I spent a month going over one of the fatal flaws in fiction writing: Flawed Dialogue Construction. I touched on the subject of “talking heads,” which is a problem in a lot of manuscripts. What this means is scenes with dialogue are not well grounded in setting and do not show clearly the actions the characters are engaged in while talking.

But even if writers drop in some lines here and there to show where their characters are when engaged in conversation and some body language or background activity, often these characters are still basically “talking heads.”

A lot of writers fail to take the time to bring a richer environment to the scene because they are so focused on writing the dialogue and making sure the information being revealed is done well. But so much more is needed to make a heavy-dialogue scene effective.

 Writers might get their dialogue mechanics down pat, appropriately using speech and narrative tags effectively, and avoiding that “on the nose” dialogue that just doesn’t come across as believable. But all the great dialogue in the world will still be problematic if it’s floating in space, coming out of talking heads that don’t seem to have bodies attached to them. Continue Reading…

The Enemy Within – 8 Tips to Crafting Powerful Inner Conflict

Good fiction is packed full of conflict. While most writers focus on the tension and excitement that plays out in the action unfolding, often the inner landscape of the characters is ignored. Yet, few conflicts are as engaging as the one that is revealed within a character’s own psyche.

The notion of a character being his own worst enemy can add layers of complexity and richness to your story’s scenes, creating opportunities for profound character development and reader empathy.

We can all relate—at one time or another, we’ve been our own worst enemy. Whether it’s a fight over giving in to eat that piece of chocolate cake while on a diet or failing to keep our mouth shut and saying something hurtful to a friend that destroys a relationship, we have all been there. Our characters should “go there” too.

Conflict is the driving force that propels a narrative forward. It serves as the crucible in which characters are tested, revealing their true essence and potential for growth. While external conflicts, such as clashes with adversaries or battles against the elements, are a given with a solid plot, it’s the internal conflicts that often define the heart and soul of a character’s journey and are often missing from the pages. Continue Reading…

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