Concept, Conflict, Character

  • Interrogate your concept. Don’t settle on the first iteration, find the very best version of your idea.
  • It’s called drama for a reason! Make sure there’s a central conflict driving your story and that it’s SPECIFIC to your character.
  • Why is your character the ONLY one who can be in this story? What makes them best (or worst) suited for the adventure ahead? Irony or fish-out-of-water scenarios can often strengthen dramatic conflict, ie a mousey school teacher having to defend the school from assassins
  • Stuck on your logline? Try this formula: When X (inciting incident) happens, your Main Character must Do This (goal) before Bad Things Happen (Stakes).

And... Action!

  • Keep your protagonist active. Even if the world is moving against them, make sure they’re always striving for something, not simply reacting to the events and characters around them. 
  • Everyone loves (to hate) a villain! Your protagonist is only as strong as the villain they’re against. If your villain doesn’t have a strong motivation, your character has nothing to overcome. Look at Die Hard and Smallville for examples of great villains. 
  • Be cruel. Yes, as cruel as you can – and then make it worse. We root for the underdog. We empathise with their pain. Your job is not to make life easy for your character, for only by putting them through the wringer can we see what they’re made of. 



Research as needed but don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to learn everything about the location or time period of your story – this is classic procrastination. Get those pages written. 


Too many people avoid writing diverse characters because they’re afraid of being inauthentic. There are ways to solve this! Authenticity readers, sensitivity readers, and internet forums. 

Missing Muse

Waiting for inspiration to strike is a surefire way to never finish anything. Just write. It will be terrible. It’s okay. You can edit later, but you can’t edit a blank page. Put your bum in the chair and go!