Ta da! I made it to the four year mark for blogging. *whew*
Appropriately, we had enough comments on the Blogiversary Contest post to earn four winners! Yay! Or boo… Depending on if you’re one of the winners or not. *sad face*
I wish everyone could be a winner. Seriously. But random.org does its random thing without caring about what we want. *sigh*
So… A Gift for Everyone!
I can’t make everyone a winner in the contest, but I can give everyone a gift by releasing a new worksheet. Yay!
A couple of my readers (*waves “hi” to Lou and Suzy*) asked me to take a look at John Truby’s work and see if I could come up with a worksheet based on his teachings. Last week, I picked up John’s book, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller.
As someone who writes by the seat of her pants, I can’t apply everything he teaches. (This post is an excellent introduction to his approach and the terminology on the worksheet.) The chapters on premise, world-building, symbolism, and story arc are insightful for everyone, but some of his advice might not apply to plot-driven stories because he’s very character-arc-focused.
I’m still digesting the chapter on plot, so I’m not sure if a beat sheet could be made from his ideas or not. (His 22 steps are very flexible, which is good for creativity but bad for MS Excel formulas. *smile*)
However, his chapters on big picture story development were helpful enough on my revisions this past weekend that I thought a worksheet based on those elements alone would be good to share. Some of us might want to think through all of these questions during initial story development, and others of us might save some of these questions for our first revision pass. Either way, I hope this helps us all!
Introducing the Story Development & Revision Worksheet
This worksheet contains two tabs that cover four aspects of our planning and revision process:
- Story Ideas
Found at the top of the Story Premise Development tab, this is a place to brainstorm story ideas and discover which ones might resonate with us.
- Story Premise
At the bottom of the Story Premise Development tab, this section helps develop our initial story premise into its full potential. We can identify tricky aspects (Will it need a huge cast of characters? Does the protagonist start off “good,” leaving less room for growth? Etc.) and come up with a strategy for overcoming the issues (what John Truby calls the “designing principle”). We’ll also identify the protagonist, central conflict, and one verb phrase that sums up the cause-and-effect chain (“takes revenge,” “falls in love,” etc.).
Note: As a pantser, I might answer some of these questions before drafting, but during revisions, it’ll be helpful to take a second look and ensure the story holds together.
- Character Arc
At the top of the Character & Plot Arc tab, this section defines the choice the character is going to have to make, their ending point (Self-Revelation), and then their beginning point (Desire, Weaknesses, and Need). With these elements, we can see our protagonist’s arc of change, but John states that it’s easiest to work backward, from ending to beginning. (Agreed. I’ve taught that backward technique in my Lost Your Pants? workshop for years.)
Note: As a pantser, I might have vague ideas for some of these items before drafting, but during revisions, these questions will also help us find our theme within the character arc. That way we can ensure our theme is fully developed.
- Plot Arc, Story World, and Symbols
At the bottom of the Character & Plot Arc tab, these sections highlight some of the elements we can use to tie the character’s arc to the rest of the story. The bottom two lines contain questions to make us think about how we’re building our theme and how we can deepen the meaning of our story.
Note: As a pantser, I might have vague ideas for some of these items, but during revisions, these questions will also help us fully develop the theme and story arc.
(Note: If you’re not familiar with MS Excel, how to enter text, or how to switch between tabs, check out my Beat Sheet 101 post. If you’d rather have this worksheet in MS Word, let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.)
The Story Premise Development tab (click to view full-size image):
The Character & Plot Arc tab (click to view full-size image):
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for changes to this worksheet, as it’s very much just my first stab at trying to gather and apply John Truby’s teachings. Also, let me know if you’d like further information about any of the elements. I’m happy to explain more. *smile*
And Now… The Blogiversary Winners!
And finally, the news you’ve all been waiting for. Here are the winners of my 4th Annual Blogiversary Contest:
Congratulations to you all! (And I swear that’s how random.org spit them out, even though one of the winners was heavily lobbying for a win. *narrows eyes and wonders if someone did hack random.org*) You all should receive an email from me within the next day, so start thinking about what prize you want. Should I be worried? *smile*
Have you studied John Truby’s teachings before? Does this worksheet succeed at capturing some of his story development advice? Do you have suggestions for improvements? Do this worksheet help make up for the fact that you didn’t win? *sad face* Do you have any suggestions or reminders for me about other writing helpers I could put together?Pin It