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Notes, tutorials, exercises, thoughts, workshops and resources about writing or storytelling art

How to Introduce Conflict in a Story

Let’s imagine a man called Peter leaving the gym and running to his car with his duffel bag over his head to protect himself from the rain. When he reaches the car and is about to open the door, he stops because he sees Laura, his best friend’s girlfriend, kissing another man on the opposite sidewalk. The girl is wearing a pair of sunglasses, but all the same, he recognizes her.

How to Introduce Conflict in a Story

Peter stands in the rain for a while as he watches the scene in disbelief. The couple enters a café, so he gets into his car but does not start it. He just sits there with his mobile phone in his hand. The screen displays the name and picture of his friend next to the call icon. More than once, Peter almost dials, but he finally decides not to.

Eventually, regardless of the rain, he returns the phone to his bag, gets out of the car, crosses the street, and enters the café. Laura is sitting at a table, chatting away with her companion. Peter approaches them and sits in front of the girl. Looking at him from behind the sunglasses she has not yet removed, she asks, “What are you doing here?” Peter ignores the question, sneers at her, and says, “Would you call this a little mistake too, or is it just me?”

How to Create Unforgettable Protagonists

The hero is the protagonist – the one who carries the weight of the story. A tale can have more than one main character (in some cases like Psycho, there can be a change of protagonist in the middle of the story). When there’s more than one protagonist, they can act in two different ways.

Main character

Plural – They share the same goals and suffer the same misfortunes or enjoy the same rewards in their struggle to achieve them. Such is the case of Robert Aldrich’s film The Dirty Dozen or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five..

Multiple – They have individual goals, rewards and misfortunes. Sometimes, what’s good for one can be bad for another. Such main characters appear in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.

Regardless of the number of protagonists a story has, they must be appealing to the readers. If they like them and identify themselves with them, they are more likely to be interested in your story. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of unforgettable protagonists:

“Deus Ex Machina”: What Is it and How to Avoid it?

In this post, I want to discuss why you shouldn’t resort to “Deus Ex Machina” when you’re trying to solve a conflict in a story. As I have occasionally made that mistake and learned how to avoid it, I think you can take advantage of my experience and advice.

Deus Ex Machina

The origin of the term “Deus Ex Machina” dates back to the theatre in Ancient Greece when at the end of a play, one of the Olympic gods was hanging from a crane in order to solve the characters’ conflicts and give an end to the story. With their belief system at that time, this method for sorting things out was more or less justified, but the readers of today won’t easily accept divine intervention.

The Importance of Secondary Characters

As you know, the characters are a fundamental part of any story. They are a must. But what type and how many characters do we need? One could say that we only need a protagonist (the character to whom the events of the story happen) and an antagonistic force or character to oppose the protagonist’s desires or goals. These two elements would be enough to tell a story.

How to Create Secondary Characters

This simplicity is well reflected in short stories which only include the main characters (the fewer, the better). But in the case of longer works such as the novel, adding secondary characters to the equation will give greater depth to the story and help you drive the plot to its conclusion. The construction of secondary characters, as with any other aspect of writing, opens up a world of possibilities, but there are a number of common supporting roles that are useful in any story:

How to Write the First Paragraphs of Your Novel

Think of the potential reader who walks by a bookstore or the editor to whom you sent a manuscript. They have hundreds of available books, and they haven’t even heard of most of them.

how to start a book

When they pick up one that catches their attention because of the beauty of its cover, the originality of its title, or any other reason, they’ll leaf through it for no more than thirty seconds (just a quick glance at the first few lines of the text). What do you think they should find there? A catchy beginning or the weather forecast?

1. Don’t start talking about the weather.

Comments such as, “It’s cold” or “Look how much it’s raining today!” are elevator conversations – topics we turn to when we don’t know what to say. If your story starts with one of those sentences, you’re transmitting that “elevator feeling” to your readers. Unless the weather affects the development of your story from the beginning (or unless you’re writing a novel dealing with a meteorologist who studies climate), it’s not a good idea to begin by talking about the heat or the rain.

To give you a practical example, imagine these two possible beginnings:

How to Choose the Setting of Your Story

When you’re beginning the work of creating your story, you must keep in mind where it takes place. You can choose a famous city, opt for your own environment because you know it by heart, or invent a location to your taste. But how do you know you’ve chosen the right setting? Consider the following aspects:

story map

1. The Importance of the Setting

The first thing you have to ask yourself is whether the setting is an important aspect of your story. There are tales in which the place where the characters live is as significant as the characters themselves. Once you answer that question, you’ll feel more confident when deciding where to set your story.

2. The Advantages of a Good Setting

Let’s consider a horror story as a example. It could take place anywhere, but if you choose the right setting, it’ll be easier for you to recreate a sinister atmosphere. Imagine a small, creepy village, or better yet, imagine the village is next to a swamp that fills the air with mist at night. Don’t you think that would be the perfect location for a horror story?

How to Give Depth to Your Characters

I bet you’ve heard that some characters in a story are round while others are flat, but do you know exactly what that means? How do you know if your characters are round or flat? Should you always create round and dynamic characters? How can you make your characters more believable?

How to Give Depth to Your Characters

Before answering these questions, let’s first analyze what round and flat characters are and when to resort to using them:

Flat Characters

Only a few features (usually based on clichés) are necessary to create flat characters. They’re generally static characters meant to serve the story.

When should you use flat characters and why?

Flat characters are often used in TV comedies (30-minute sitcoms with canned laughter) because comedic stories usually focus on the anecdote and the joke. Thanks to their commonplace situations and characters, sitcoms are able to transmit a sense of familiarity to the spectator. Flat characters also have a supporting role in stories with round main characters in order to achieve one of these effects:

Clichés in Fiction Writing

Clichés are usually defined as hackneyed ideas or overused elements that fail to surprise anyone. At the time of writing, there are three places where we can find clichés – metaphors, characters, and plots.

Chef francés típico, ilustración de Vectorcharacters


Writers often resort to metaphors when they need to set their stories or introduce a description. There is nothing like a good comparison to give the reader an accurate mental picture of what you want to express. This is not a simple task since the image you create should be original and natural at the same time. This way, it will easily form in your readers’ minds without them having to stop reading to reflect on it. After all, the function of metaphors is to facilitate the understanding of the story.

Four Key Story Elements: Summary, Plot, Structure, and Suspense

There are four key elements when it comes to telling a story: summary, plot, structure, and suspense. However, as all of them are interrelated and even interdependent, it’s sometimes difficult to tell them apart.

How to Write a Story

In this post, I’ll analyze these elements separately to discover their functions and peculiarities.


Summary refers to the main events of the narrative presented in chronological order. This sequential type of organization provides the writer with a clear answer to two questions. What’s the story about? What does it tell the reader? As we’ll discuss in the next section, once those questions have been answered, the author can break the chronological order of narrative discourse and choose the one that best fits his or her story.

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

Have you ever experienced fear of a blank page when you can’t come up with ideas, or the ideas you have seem useless? That’s when you can fall into the vicious cycle of not writing because you lack ideas and lacking ideas because you don’t write. In other words, you fall into the dreaded writer’s block.

beat creative block

Years ago when I myself went through a period of creative drought, I discovered my problem lay in a mixture of fatigue, stress, fear, and insecurity. I found the best way to solve it was to change some of my lifestyle habits and face my fears.

Even though every writer is different and the same solution doesn’t apply to every problem, there are some general tips to help you identify and overcome writer’s block. In the case that you need them, I hope they help you as much as they helped me.