Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

[Wyrd Words Weekly] What the periodic table can teach you about writing

Published 25 days ago • 1 min read

Hello Reader,

Scene is the smallest unit of story, the atom in Story's Periodic Table. And yet it can be difficult to identify what a scene is and how it functions in our stories. A scene:

  • Is a finite, relatively short moment in time...
  • Takes place in one concrete location/setting...
  • Has a beginning, middle, and end...
  • Contains a MOMENT OF CHANGE that moves the story forward by advancing the plot, character, or world-building (or all three!).

Just like your larger story, your scenes have a structure--a goal, obstacles, and an outcome--that provide the scaffolding upon which you tell the story with character, world-building, and plot.

Do you know how to make your scenes work for you and your story? Many writers don't. But don't worry, I've got you covered!

In my decade as book coach and story geek, I've developed a simple, yet powerful, approach to scenes that will help you shore up your story logic, increase pacing and stakes, and show your characters' journeys in a way that will keep readers turning pages.

And on February 13, you can learn that approach for FREE as part of ProWritingAid's Romance Writers' Week, February 12-16. The lineup is fantastic, featuring some of my very favorite colleagues. Sign up today:

If you're writing romance, or if you're just looking for a quick, easy, free way to get a little inspiration in the new year, I hope I'll see you there!

What I'm Reading

If you're anything like me, you've got a to be read pile that you're never going to conquer. For me, that often means I'm focused on reading books that have come out in the last 1-2 seasons. It's an important part of keeping my market knowledge current, but it also means that I sometimes miss a truly great book. That's why I'm so thrilled that Rebecca Makkai's 2023 release, I Have Some Questions For You, wasn't available at the library last week, but her 2018, The Great Believers, was. Because my goodness, it was a powerful, poignant, glorious read. An exploration of the power of platonic love, a heart-wrenching deep dive into the mid-80s AIDS epidemic, a meditation on motherhood, this book was amazing. If you, too, missed it when it came out in 2018, give it a read or a listen.



PS - Last call for Round Seven of CP Meet Cute. I'll be making critique partner matches NEXT WEEK! Sign up by February 7 at to get all the details.

Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Julie Artz helps writers who dream of a life spent telling stories that matter slay their doubt demons so they can send their work out into the world with confidence. An active member of the writing community, she has volunteered for SCBWI, TeenPit, and Pitch Wars and is a member of EFA, the Authors Guild, and AWP. A social and environmental justice minded story geek, Julie lives in an enchanted forest outside of Seattle, Washington, with her husband, two strong-willed teenagers, and a couple of naughty furry familiars. Check out her weekly newsletter, Wyrd Words Weekly, and subscribe today.

Read more from Julie Artz | author, editor, book coach, dragon

Hello Reader, When I dig into a new story, I always go through a honeymoon period where I'm so excited about the idea that I've forgotten just how tricky writing that zero draft can be. During this honeymoon phase, the ideas come at me faster than I can type them up and sometimes I even get what my family calls "story brain," when I get caught staring at the wall thinking about my story when I'm supposed to be talking to them or getting myself ready or really doing any number of other things...

5 days ago • 5 min read

Hello Reader, I'd like to give a special welcome to folks just joining us from ProWritingAid's Romance Writers' Week. I'm so glad you're here (and just in time to celebrate!). There's nothing better in the life of a book coach than witnessing a hard-fought client win, which is one of the reasons it's been a pretty fabulous week around here. My friend, client, and fellow book coach Suzette Mullen celebrated the release of her heart-wrenching, vulnerable, empowering memoir, The Only Way...

11 days ago • 2 min read

Hello Reader, What's the best gift you've ever received? When we think of gifts, we often think of things that come in shiny packages with beautiful ribbons and bows. Or a birthday cake with candles and delicious icing. And I love those too (who doesn't?). But the best gift I got for my birthday this past week was one I gave myself: Time. OK, there was birthday cake too. I'm not a monster :) That's right. I gifted myself a writing retreat. Three whole days to write with no other...

18 days ago • 3 min read
Share this post