really good prompts

Body language can give your character depth.

What do they think about when they’re not speaking?

How do they carry themselves or stand?

Where do they choose to place themselves in a room?

What do they do when they speak?

give the reader a few sentences that describe the setting.

Use sensory details from your main character’s point of view

 In your scene, where it’s germane, add in some of the sensory experiences from the perspective of that main character.
  • What do they see?
  • What can they hear?
  • What do they smell?
  • What can they taste?
  • What can they touch?

Flashbacks can bring in backstory.

Sometimes there are things a reader should know about why characters do what they do. Selective use of flashbacks can do that without creating an info dump


first 300 to 400 words of your opening scene for fifteen minutes, using the types of details outlined in the article: character-focused, sensory, specific, opinionated, emotional, and consistent.


Remember, every word of the story should come through your viewpoint character, colored by their opinions and emotions, delivered through their senses. The aim of this exercise is to ground your reader in the setting and viewpoint before rushing into action and plot points, so make sure to focus on that goal.



make sure you get firmly inside the head of your viewpoint character and deliver the story to your reader from there.

Think about what your character would notice and include fresh, character-focused details that will pull the reader in there beside you.

detail can clarify and enliven rather than clutter and obscure.

I discovered how vital it is to add color and substance through detail, that a story is more than a series of brilliant plot points

deliver every word through your viewpoint character, pulling your readers into the setting and showing it to them through the fresh eyes of your character.

Open your story with 300 to 400 words of depth, expressed through the viewpoint character in the types of details we’ve discussed, before moving forward into plot points and action.

every piece of information that comes to your reader must pass through your viewpoint character and how do we receive information but through our senses?

It’s a good idea to use at least four of the five senses in every depth opening during the first third of your book. But another sensory technique you can use to convey a feeling of being overwhelmed is to focus lavishly on one sense.

Your character was not born on page one. Remember, they have a history of life experience which has given them, among other things, opinions. Their opinion should color everything they pass on to the reader, like a hot key combo into their personality.

Focus on describing what it feels like to the character to be angry or hurt or deliriously happy, rather than naming the emotion outright. Show, don’t tell.



What physical reactions are taking place? How do they cope with them? What kind of memories or insecurities do they evoke? Emotions, like opinions, will color the details you choose to include.


Their opinions also make them distinct from other characters in the book, allowing them to stand out and be a three-dimensional individual.

Characters are revealed by their behavior and their interactions with others. By making sure your character’s attitudes and opinions come through to the reader, you’ll ensure a deeper, more satisfying reading experience.

Feel what your character is feeling; see what they see. Hear, taste, and smell what they’re experiencing.

Character-focused details

Remember, your viewpoint character is alive, a functioning individual with a background of experience. And every word of the story is filtered through that character’s experience.

strong characters have depth and breadth. They come alive and feel real to the reader,



You, the author, must identify with the character so closely that you feel what the character feels, think what the character thinks. This is what great actors do


deliver the scene to the reader through that filter, the character—and the story—come alive


They are made up of their physical traits, their history, their relationships, their hopes and fears, and their personality.

can do this by using writing techniques and devices like:






act structure and make sure each scene is vital and has a turning point.

micro view of storytelling

of simply putting a character in a setting with a problem and then employing try/fail cycles until the climax where he succeeds or ultimately fails before ending with a validation.




But in order for these forces to function as they must, the reader needs to be solidly engaged and grounded in your story. And this has to happen from the very first sentences

drive a reader forward through your story—curiosity, surprise, and suspense.


Bobbing around from one character’s thoughts to another’s doesn’t allow the reader to attach and grow inside the viewpoint character’s head.



pull your reader deep and ground them in the story’s setting so they’ll want to stay.


Writing is about connecting with someone and making a difference,

But it’s important to stick to one point of view per scene,

Readers want to escape into a story, to sink beneath the page so they’re no longer just reading—they are immersed in the story



The Exposition is where you introduce your hero and establish the story setting, your hero’s world. By focusing on the core value at stake from the very beginning, you confirm genre for your readers and introduce dramatic tension by setting up conflict and forcing your character to act on a choice.


the story will turn on a core value of Life vs. Death or perhaps a Fate Worse than Death. Often, the internal value at stake is Good vs. Evil. Crime stories,


I started writing short stories using a nine-point, three act structure consisting of hook, backstory, and trigger in act one. Crisis, struggle, and epiphany in act two. And plan, climax, and resolution in the final act.

  • Exposition. This first part establishes a protagonist’s normal life and greater desires, and usually culminates in the inciting incident.
  • Rising action. The protagonist pursues their new goal and is tested along the way.
  • Climax. Our hero achieves their goal — or so they think!
  • Falling action. The hero now must deal with the consequences of achieving their goal.
  • Resolution. The conclusion tying together the plot, character arcs, and themes.

These are all common ‘beats’ to most stories. It can be easier to see these moments in genres with higher stakes (such as a military thriller), but you’ll find them in almost any type of story.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from powerhouse2

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading