Or maybe it's a story salad.
Have you, in fact, heard of a "code smell"? If not, here's a quick primer:
How the influences of 'Shunga-Satori' came together to form a surreal fantasy story.
On the problem of audiences growing weary of stories that never actually end.
You never get the whole story in your head at once. Except maybe when you think you do.
And where almost nothing else happened, either, save for people talking at each other. A case study.
How consistency, foolish or otherwise, can be the hobgoblin of small minds in SF&F.
On my disdain for instructional storytelling guides: at best, such things are meant to be outgrown.
On examining what feels like the formula I've devised for most every book I write.
"The 'three-act structure' and the 'hero’s journey', are editing tools, not writing tools."
On cheating in a work of fantasy or SF.
It's a familiar story trope. A bunch of people come into a restaurant/room/hotel/office, reveal themselves in miniature, and get briefed on The Mission.
Why would we find it easier to feel sympathy for a cartoon animal than another human being?
Our dreams will never love us back precisely because they are our dreams. Only you and I can love each other, and we cannot afford to let anything else usurp that responsibility.
How an entire story can pivot on a single sentence, and lead to a new world in the head.
Being able to sum up your own stories succinctly isn't an insult to their complexity. It means you understand what they are really about.
More Marvel discussion: On entertainments vs. objects of study vs. role models.
A few thoughts on "Shang-Chi" and the benefits of efficient story construction.
On attempting (and largely failing) to stitch together dreams into a narrative.
Stories driven by arbitrary conceits tend to lose the reader's engagement, because in a story where anything's possible, nothing matters very much.
How everything from 'The Battle Of Algiers' to 'Soul Eater' fed into the making of my new novel.
"Asking 'what is the story worth telling?' is a question we can’t avoid."
Show the things that are best dramatized; tell the things that are best spelled out.
On the balance between a story with too many rules and not enough.
Change is the essence of storytelling: we tell a story because we want to document something that has changed. Or someone.