How to Use Suspense in Any Story—Even Comedy

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When talking about suspense, the first things most people think of are spine-tingling moments in action movies and thrillers. But suspense is key to the success of every kind of story—even comedies. Here’s an example from Anchorman 2: The video used to be on YouTube, but has since been removed. If you have seen the movie, or plan to see it, … Read More

Webinar: How to Add Irresistible Suspense to Any Novel/Screenplay/TV Script. Starts March 20th, 2016

Vik Rubenfeld#AskVik

“What are the techniques to hook readers so that they can’t put down your next novel or screenplay?”

Transform your next story and win by using suspense. Suspense keeps audiences, studio executives, and readers hooked on your every word. When you unleash suspense, they can’t stop reading your novel or screenplay. Instructor Vik Rubenfeld created the trailblazing hit CBS prime-time drama EARLY EDITION.

Do You Need an Ending Before You Start?

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@seanpetermusic asks: @VikRubenfeld do you think you need an ending before you start? — Sean Peter (@seanpetermusic) August 27, 2015 Thanks for asking this great question, Sean. You don’t need to know the ending before you start—in a moment we’ll look at some very famous examples. But you must know the effect you want to have on your audience, in order … Read More

How to Set Up a Twist Without Giving Too Much Away

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@mercblues asks: @VikRubenfeld what's the best way to introduce a plot twist without giving too much away? #mycurrentproblem — Amy H (@mercblues) August 5, 2015 I asked: @VikRubenfeld Yes, I'm trying to set up main character w/some mystery to who he is for the reader but not a mystery to the other characters — Amy H (@mercblues) August 5, 2015 … Read More

Using Foreshadowing to Build Suspense

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@tdmiller820917 and I were having a conversation on Twitter: @tdmiller820917 Thanks Tracy! Have you read Joseph Conrad yet? A good friend of mine once pointed out that Conrad foreshadows EVERYTHING. — Vik Rubenfeld (@VikRubenfeld) June 11, 2015 She asks: @VikRubenfeld Question:How can you effectively balance foreshadowing throughout the story & maintaining a surprise payoff at the end? — Tracy Diane … Read More

How Slow or Fast to Pace Your Story—Here’s the Key to Making Any Story Pace Work

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@mercblues writes: @VikRubenfeld getting my story's pace/timing messed up… #tooslow #toofast #ack — Amy H (@mercblues) June 25, 2015 @tdmiller820917 agrees: @littlemisszero @vikrubenfeld That's my problem, too. I have trouble with pacing my stories. — Tracy Diane Miller (@tdmiller820917) June 28, 2015 For purposes of this post, I watched Solaris (1972), which while being highly-regarded, is considered to be one … Read More

The Big Picture, A to Z, Self-Publishing Checklist

Vik Rubenfeld#AskVik4 Comments

photo by Maria Elena

@ClaraRicks1 asks: @VikRubenfeld Hey. I've been seeing so many new writers publishing their books. I wanted to ask, is it a complicated process? — ClaraRicks (@ClaraRicks1) June 24, 2015 Thanks for this great question, Clara. There is a lot that goes into it. On the plus side, it’s getting easier all the time. Here is a big-picture checklist. Get your book … Read More

The Most Important Hollywood Writing Technique You’ve Never Heard Of

Vik Rubenfeld#AskVik6 Comments

There’s an extremely important writing technique that is well-known in Hollywood, called “storybreaking”. Yet when I did a Twitter search for “film storybreaking” and “tv storybreaking”, here’s what came up: No tweets found! Yet this is a technique that is widely talked about and used in Hollywood. Here’s the definition of storybreaking on Breaking story basically means figuring out the screenplay’s blueprint — … Read More

How to Make the Audience Care About Your Protagonist

Vik Rubenfeld#AskVik2 Comments

@Sylent_steel asks: @VikRubenfeld hey Vik! I love my protagonists. How do i know if i did enough for readers to feel the same way? — R Cox (@Sylent_steel) April 30, 2015 I replied: @Sylent_steel That is a giant subject! I'll post with a few thoughts on it. :0 — Vik Rubenfeld (@VikRubenfeld) April 30, 2015 As I tweeted to @Sylent_steel, … Read More

Three Act Structure And Why You Need It

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Eric asks: @VikRubenfeld how can I use the Three Act Structure to the best of my ability? — Eric (@DeSantis_Eric) April 27, 2015 This is an excellent question, and surprisingly important. Here’s how it was described recently by the writers of the classic comedy, AIRPLANE. Jerry Zucker (director/co-writer): We’d never heard of Zero Hour! before then, and at first we … Read More

Vivid Emotional Insight from Willa Cather

Vik RubenfeldArt Talk, NovelLeave a Comment


Here is another great example of how a work of art communicates something that can’t be communicated intellectually. There’s no communication of information only, that can convey what this so vividly conveys. It’s from a novel by Willa Cather that is often found on lists of the greatest novels of all time—”Death Comes for the Archbishop.” Set in New Mexico … Read More