This week, Alida and Robert are joined by award-winning author and writing teacher Emma Darwin. We discuss narrative drive, the forward movement essential to any story. We go deep into narrative craft, exploring the difference between a story set adrift and one with a current that pulls the reader forward. This is a don’t miss episode!




What is narrative drive? And why is it so important to your story? How can you craft drive with characters choices, cause, and effect? What happens when your character comes alive? How does it affect your plot, their agency, and the surprising inevitability of your story? And finally what are some ways you can develop these narrative drive skills?

Visit Emma at This Itch of Writing.

What we talked about:

What do we mean by narrative drive? And when should I worry about it? (0:50)

The importance of choice, cause, and effect. (3:58)

Has your character come alive? (5:42)

Extend your options! (7:25)

Challenge your defaults. (10:20)

What it means when your “characters take over”. (13:35)

Surprising but inevitable. (14:20)

Readers shouldn’t be able to predict your characters actions! (16:55)

How to pick the “best” choice. (19:05)

What about for new writers? How should you fine tune your narrative drive muscles? (20:50)

Two tools to work on narrative drive. (25:15)

What story are you telling? (27:10)

How do you keep the reader turning the pages? (29:55)

What happens next has to matter! (31:40)

A few rules of thumb to narrative drive. (35:32)


Things we mentioned:

Agatha Christie 
James Patterson 
Into the Woods by John Yorke
The Clues to a Great Story by Andrew Stanton

Emma’s Blog posts on Narrative Drive:

“Are there multicultural boundaries we must not cross in historical fiction?”  

“Don’t Plot, just play Fortunately-Unfortunately” 

Have thoughts, questions, other examples? Join the conversation at the Story Works Writers Facebook group

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