Have you ever noticed that one area of plot tends to get neglected? If you browse writing blogs on a regular basis, you’re probably familiar with multiple strategies for structuring a plot, such as the Three Act, Snowflake, Save the Cat, or Hero’s Journey templates. But advice on structuring individual scenes? That’s rare. Knowing how to plot an entire novel is useful, but if you struggle to craft the scenes and chapters within it, you won’t make much progress.
Story Embers Editor-in-Chief
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He co-founded Story Embers in April 2018 and leads the site as editor-in-chief, where he sets visions and goals, reviews submissions, handles web design & marketing, and oversees site initiatives.
Someday Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him teaching writers at Ink Slinger Academy or writing short stories on his website as he works toward achieving these goals.
Why does Christian fiction as a genre have to exist? Why can’t we ditch the special label and simply write good fiction? In the first installment of our article series exploring The Promise of Jesse Woods, Josiah answers these objections and explains what the book teaches about crafting explicitly Christian themes that resonate with readers.
People regularly complain about preachiness in Christian fiction. However, in my experience, most Christian fiction I’ve read that’s been published in the past decade isn’t the evangelistic propaganda that readers complain about. Instead, the biggest problem is that I didn’t care about or relate to the characters. Here’s why this happens.
“Bad books are a myth because the only measuring stick is people’s whims.” I ended my first article in this mini series with that provocative and troubling conclusion. But hopefully you followed my reasoning. Since even literary-minded readers occasionally enjoy “bad” books, how can we make any objective assessments?
We all have books we hate where we can’t fathom how anyone else could enjoy them. And yet scrolling through the reviews of even your least-favorite book on Amazon or Goodreads will inevitably reveal a number of five-star write-ups. Why do readers like these books? And why does this matter to authors?
Last summer at our annual staff retreat, we ran into a dilemma. Many people want to become published authors. But that dream gets buried under rejections, discouragement, and life’s responsibilities. So they give up. Since we desire to help Christian storytellers excel, this presented a challenge: Why do writers quit? And how can we empower them to continue pursuing their goals?
A NYT-bestselling author I heard once argued that readers tend to “read fiction to escape. Authors are entertainers,” and whether we like it or not, we need to give people what they want. But is this really accurate? Or is there a deeper reason for why people read fiction and what we need to thus provide them as storytellers?
Writers tend to view symbols as literary tropes to develop a story’s theme. However, well-executed symbols not only deepen theme: they enhance the audience’s enjoyment of a story. Here’s a few lessons we can learn from the new Star Wars trilogy about how to craft symbols that emotionally impact readers.
Fawkes is one of those novels that breaks the “rules” for how to deliver a Christian message without sounding preachy. Many of the tropes used in this novel would be cliched or annoying in other stories. But Brandes makes them work without any of those downsides. Here’s how she did it.
One year ago, we founded Story Embers. Over the past year, we’ve reached 20,000+ visitors, got a listing in the Christian Writers Market Guide, crafted our manifesto of excellent Christian storytelling, and published 70+ articles on the writing craft. Now it’s time for us to take our next steps. And we want you to be a part of it.