What makes a good story good?

Approaches to Storycraft

So you have an idea and you wonder if it might make a good story. You play around with it, dress it up and take it out for coffee. You talk it over with your cat, the only other being in your life that seems to not mind listening to you talking about your ideas. He blinks lazily, and you take that to mean it’s sounding good.

Your idea is becoming something, but is it something that would be enjoyed by anyone other than your cat?

There are four key components that help develop your story idea into a concept that an audience might enjoy.

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Why gratitude can help you lead a more joyful creative journey

Approaches to Storycraft

We’re coming to the end of a month, end of a year, and end of a decade. This kind of brings up mixed emotions. For many of us who have been dreaming of writing books, hooking a literary agent, or landing an amazing publishing deal we might be feeling a little anxious. Time is passing, and what do you have to show for it? Or maybe you’ve published a book and it’s not selling, or maybe you’re not getting reviews, or maybe the reviews you’re getting are less than encouraging. Or maybe you’re stuck. You have a story idea but things like family obligations, lack of time, or uncertainty about how to actually start are blocking you from making forward progress.

First of all, understand that if you feel inspired to write . . .


A Book You Should Know About

Approaches to Storycraft

One of my favorite hobbies is reading. But there are a few annoyances that block me from indulging as much as I’d like.

Annoyance #1: I can’t read for longer than 15-20 minutes daily because my life is so filled with other things. I have to tack it on to the end of my day, bedtime, when I’m already half-asleep.

Annoyance #2: Because of such a short reading time span, it takes me, like three years, to finish a book. What’s new for me was a hit movie in the eighties, ya know?

Annoyance #3: And I really hate being interrupted while I’m reading, so that limits other times of day where I might want to relax with a book. Anyone with me on that? Just like I can’t deal with people who try to talk to me when I’m watching a movie or an episode of Stranger Things. I mean, can you not see my attention is practically glued to the man-eating slime, as if that damn thing could slip through the screen and into my living room.

Stranger things have happened.

Anywho—when I do get to read for pleasure, it had better be a DAMN GOOD book, otherwise, I will not bother finishing it. I just don’t have that luxury when I am behind on my reading list by three years!

Of course, I’ll sneak books up to the front of the to-be-read list if I know there is something about them that will be worth my while. This leads me to my latest reading treasure find by the wonderful Jacqui Murray, A Quest for Home, the second book of her series Crossroads Trilogy.

Here’s what the story is about:

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

Xhosa flees what she had hoped would be her new home after being attacked by invaders from the North. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands of what we now call Europe. As she struggles to overcome strangers around her and disruptions within her People, Xhosa faces the reality that her most dangerous enemy may not be the one she expected. It may be one she has trusted with her life.

The story is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate any who came before.

Based on a true story, this is an unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man spreads across Eurasia. Xhosa must regularly does the impossible which is good because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

Here is my review (posted on Amazon & Goodreads): What a way to start a sequel! We pick up right where the first book leaves off, and the author is thorough and detailed with providing the necessary information a new reader might need in order to understand what is happening.

Give me a strong, brave, and compassionate female protagonist any day of the week, and I’m your reader. Author Jacqui Murray does not disappoint. Xhosa, our heroine, is determined to lead her tribe to safety in this prehistoric world. She is up against competition within her own tribe as well as from other tribes. Murray has clearly done her research. We learn interesting details and information about medicinal uses for plants, relationships, language, survival, and it is written with credibility, drama, intrigue, and passion.

The story follows several perspectives of well-rounded characters so that we see the quest from a few angles, and we soon become entrenched in their individual goals and motivations. The setting and descriptions are richly detailed, and the writing is consistently strong.

I highly recommend The Quest for Home to anyone who enjoys prehistoric adventures and stories led by compelling characters.


If you’re interested in knowing more about Jacqui, who is a wonderfully interesting person, check out her blog  and you can look up her books HERE. 


Have a writerly day!

3 Steps to Transform a Blocked Mindset to one that Thrives

Approaches to Storycraft

Mindset can make or break a writing journey. Many writers don’t realize how much their inner critic can impact their writing routine. Where are you at in your creativity mindset? Are you feeling stuck, confused, frustrated, satisfied, neutral, joyful, bottomed-out, inspired?

We are less likely to reach the vision of success if our mindset is not aligned with our end goal. Have you ever worked really hard at accomplishing a goal or a project only to feel really let down afterwards? Left thinking, “Huh, well that wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.” That’s because somewhere along the way, our mindset was off, it wasn’t 100% on board with the process.

However, if you’ve got a strong, positive, confident mindset throughout your process or practice—then the end result will knock your socks off. You will reach your personal finish line feeling (and knowing) that you put your best self forward and that you chose the path that best serves you and your goals.


Tough Love

Approaches to Storycraft

One of my go-to writing warm-ups is to write a story inspired by three random words. This week, I was needing a bit of a break from query letter & synopsis writing, and I didn’t have enough time to dive into rewrites of book 2 of my series. But I needed a fiction fix. I tend to go through withdrawal symptoms when I spend too much time away from writing fiction. It’s really not a pretty sight, so I’ll spare you the details.

Anywho . . . I wrote a little story inspired by three random words one of my middle school writing students gave me. Enjoy!