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I've been reading Tim Ferriss's fantastic book The 4-Hour Chef. Although Tim's book presents as a cookbook, it is instead a manual which teaches the reader how to learn anything rapidly. One learning technique Tim recommends is the creation of a "One-Pager." On one page he attempts to write down the most important concepts he must grasp to master a skill. I have borrowed Tim's idea, and created this One-Pager for fiction writing.   


Hope it helps you on your writing journey,


#1: Theme

The Theme is the lesson the reader learns from living the story through the eyes of the protagonist. Example: The Grinch: There is more to Christmas than gifts. You should be able to write down the theme of your work. The theme of a story is always tied to the protagonist’s internal conflict.

#2: Interior and Exterior Conflict

Ext. Conflict --> Compels hero to face -->Int. Conflict


  • The protagonist begins the story with an interior conflict. The resolution of this conflict—or lack of —conveys the theme of the story.'

  • Every event in the external conflict must impact the protagonist’s internal struggle. Example: Each of the three ghosts who haunted Scrooge forced him to examine his meaningless, miserable life.                       

  • The exterior conflict must be overwhelming because the protagonist will not willingly face his/her own interior struggle. Think dragons or robots from the future, not misunderstandings. 

  • If an event does not touch upon the protagonist’s interior struggle the reader will STOP reading.

#5: Other Stuff


  • Use all five senses. Smell is the most powerful. Use it to evoke memories, to scare, to warn, to indicate joy or bliss, to convey the extraordinary.

  • Use juicy words.

Writing Essentials

by Kidd Wadsworth

#3: Show Don’t Tell


  • Reveal the story—and emotion—through action. Show what each character is doing.                                    

She banged her head against the door. Not: she was frustrated.

He strolled along, lifting his chin, feeling the warmth of the sun on his face. Not: He walked slowly.

  • Remember: writing “She thought” or “He thought” is telling

#4: Pacing

(from Save the Cat! Writes a Novel)

1%           Opening Image (Act I)

5%           Theme Stated

10%         Catalyst

20%         Upside-down world (Act II)

50%         Midpoint (stakes go up!)

50-70%   Bad guys close in

75%          All is lost

80%         Dark night of the soul

80+%       Breakthrough (Act III)

80-99%   Finale

100%       Final Image (Dénouement)

(% indicates location in the novel. For a 120-page novel, 20% is p.24)

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