Crazy random happenstance brought me to a four-step formula for creating fiction:

1. Keep Things Rolling Start the action as soon as possible. As Teresa says in her article, “Move your characters out onto the board, get them into interesting situations, and have them do big, consequential things as early as you can.” This isn’t just about jumping into the action, but about overcoming that inertia in the beginning with some grace, and then making sure everything keeps moving, moving, moving.

2. Actions Have Consequences Whenever possible, make the characters (and the readers, by extension) feel the effects of the action. The narrative will be stronger if later scenes are caused by earlier scenes, in straightforward, if surprising, ways. Reward your readers for following the beginning by tying it into the middle and end.

3. Recycle, Reuse, Reduce This is basically the Law of Conservation of Detail. Bring characters back again to fill other parts, then do it again. And again. Think about it like a TV show with a supporting cast. Remember that one character who pops in for just a few minutes in maybe one episode out of three, brings the doughnuts and coffee, and you don’t learn their name until halfway through season two? Bring them back.

4. Basically Three Again No kidding. This is Conservation of Detail again, but with objects, places, and important events. Don’t waste time by detailing things that won’t be used again. When you find a hole in your narrative, plug something from before into it. Learn your manuscript, and make it yours.

Now go check out the Making Light website. Y’know, if you want to.