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Planning Your Story

Story planning tips and advice. Sample topics: using beat sheets, developing arcs, techniques for those who write by the seat of their pants, deciding on story ideas, etc.

Stuck on Plot? Start at the End — Guest: Janice Hardy

Dead End street sign with text: How to Avoid a... (Dead End)

Today, Janice Hardy shares her tip for getting unstuck with our plot. Whether we’re plotters or pantsers, working backward from the end can help us figure out our story’s plot. Sometimes we need to shake up how we do things to get the creative juices flowing again, and working backward can be the key we need.

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August 9, 2016

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Using Ebooks to Understand Story Structure

Roof structure with text: Ebooks: a Shortcut to Story Structure

If we’ve ever had a friend ramble or go off on tangents when describing a movie, we understand how story structure can help make stories more enjoyable. In other words, good story structure is an important element of good storytelling. Here’s how we can learn to analyze the structure of stories…

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February 11, 2016

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Happy New Year! Let’s Talk (Story) Beginnings

Book open to Chapter 1 with text: 3 Steps to Our Story's Beginning

We’re almost to the new year, so let’s take those thoughts of new beginnings over to our stories. Most writers have probably struggled with a story’s opening, but if we start from the big picture and move to the specific, we might have an easier time finding the right beginning for our story.

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December 31, 2015

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Merry Christmas! A Gift for You…

Christmas ornaments with text: A Gift for You! A New Worksheet

I interrupted my Christmas to-do list to put together a worksheet based on the Essential Elements list I covered in my last post. If you’ve ever wondered if a completed story had good “bones,” hopefully this worksheet will help.

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December 24, 2015

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Does Our Story Have Everything It Needs?

Classroom skeleton with text: Does Our Story Have Good Bones?

After completing a story, we might face the question of whether to put in the effort to revise it. If we decide our story has enough promise, what should we do next? Does our story contain all the essential elements? Does it have the bones of a good story?

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December 22, 2015

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Ask Jami: Why Isn’t There One Right Way to Write?

Pen on a notebook with text: Why Isn't There a Right Way to Write?

When we’re young, the world feels like it’s made up of wrong answers and right answers. Not surprisingly, writing is one of those areas of our life where “one right way” doesn’t apply, and there are several reasons why there’s no definitive “right” way to write a book.

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December 15, 2015

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Developing Our Story: From Beat Sheet to Scene List

Rebar steel ready for construction with text: Building a Scene List for Our Story

My regular readers know that I’m a pantser, but I’m naturally a planner/plotter in the rest of my life. So when a reader asked me how to build a scene list from a beat sheet, I didn’t shudder and scream in horror. Instead for my plotter-loving friends and readers, I figured I’d put together a real answer.

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October 8, 2015

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Need Help Understanding Story Structure?

View up the center of high-tension electrical tower with text: Need Help Understanding Story Structure?

Some authors are able to write coherent stories while drafting. Others put together words willy-nilly and end up with a story that doesn’t hold together. And still others plot but are just writing their chaos down in advance. For all, a strong sense of story structure would help them during planning, drafting, and/or revisions.

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September 1, 2015

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Tangents and Subplots: When Do They Work?

Shopping cart in the woods with text: Is This Scene Out of Place?

My Elements of a Scene Checklist helps us identify whether a scene is truly necessary and contributing to our story by making sure it fulfills a story purpose. The same judgment criteria can apply to subplots as well. Let’s take a look at how can we make sure our tangents and subplots are adding to the story and not acting as a distraction.

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August 25, 2015

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