Author Archives: Melanie Anne Phillips

Jurassic Park – Building A Better Dinosaur

One way to improve your writing is to look at a good story and learn from it.  Another way it to see what’s wrong with a bad story and think about how to fix it.  But you seldom see writers … Continue reading

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What Drives Characters?

As writers, we all know that characters need drive or their actions will come across as unmotivated.  But what is drive, and where does it come from? At a minimum, every character needs a reason to explain the choices they … Continue reading

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What Is Story Structure?

Most writers are not story theorists, and don’t want to be. Still, an understanding of the way stories work can help support a writer’s instincts to make sure a flawed structure won’t get in the way of the creativity. So … Continue reading

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Plot Order vs. Exposition Order

The order in which events unfold in a story is not necessarily the order in which those events occurred to the characters within the story. In movies, for example, a story might open with a scene in the present, then … Continue reading

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Your Genre – Act By Act

Many writers have a misconception that genre is something you “write in” – like a box. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Genre is the overall personality of a story, created through both structural elements and storytelling  approaches. And, like … Continue reading

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Archetypes vs. Stereotypes

Archetypes represent human qualities we all share, such as Reason, Emotion, Faith, Skepticism, Conscience, and Temptation.  Stereotypes represent the different kinds of personalities we encounter in life. In story structure, archetypes, by definition, are characters defined by their plot function, … Continue reading

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The Dramatica Triangle

By Melanie Anne Phillips There are two story lines in every complete story, and you can either run them in parallel or you can hinge them together to form a dramatic triangle. The first story line is the overall story that … Continue reading

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The Four Throughlines in To Kill A Mockingbird

There are four throughlines that must be explored in every story for it to feel to readers or audience that the underlying issues have been fully explored and the message fully supported. Throughline 1: The Objective Story The Objective Story is … Continue reading

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How Story Structure Relates to the Real World

  By understanding how the structure of fiction relates to the real world, we can better fashion our stories and perhaps even convey something to our readers or audience that they can use in life. We all sense that stories … Continue reading

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The Penance of the Lambs

In the classes I teach on story structure I often point to Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) in The Silence of the Lambs as a great example of a Success/Bad story in which the goal (save the senator’s daughter from Buffalo Bill) … Continue reading

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