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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.

Why Story Structure Matters

Inside view of top of clear dome's structure with text: Why Story Structure Matters

It’s no secret that I’m a proud pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), and yet I’m a firm believer in story structure. My writing worksheets for story and scene construction make that latter point abundantly clear. But I haven’t discussed before why story structure is so important. Recently, a […]

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January 2, 2014

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Ask Jami: Can We Use Beat Sheets with Scrivener?

Scrivener logo and Basic Beat Sheet title with text: Using Beat Sheets with Scrivener

Do you use the Scrivener program for your writing? Many writers do, especially as Scrivener sponsors NaNoWriMo and offers a discount to participants. I started using Scrivener for my NaNo drafting last year and was able to buy the program at half-off because of my NaNo win. Woo hoo! Many writers […]

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December 17, 2013

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NaNo Wrap-Up: Beat Sheets 101

Green chalkboard with text: Beat Sheets 101

Now is the time of year when thousands of writers look at their NaNoWriMo story and think: Yay! Okay, now what? (Or if you’re like me, you’re still drafting the denouement for the final scene, but I’m close to finishing. *smile*) Whether we wrote by the seat of our pants or […]

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December 3, 2013

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NaNo Prep: 4 Tips for Starting Our Story

"Trail Starts Here" sign with text: 4 Tips for Starting Our Story

Tomorrow, thousands of writers will start their novel for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m not in a good spot in my writing project schedule to participate this year (*pout*), but I’m cheering from the sidelines. (I’m Jami Gold if anyone wants to buddy me.) On this occasion, I wanted […]

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October 31, 2013

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How to Avoid a Sagging Middle in Our Stories

Sagging power pole with text: Have a Sagging Middle?

The middle act of our story isn’t about adding page count to drag out the tension and make the story novel-length. And the middle isn’t a delaying tactic before we get to the “good stuff.” Instead, the middle of our story should be the “meat” of the story. Without setting up the obstacles here, any solution in the final act will seem too easy and won’t be as satisfying.

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October 29, 2013

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NaNo Prep: Do You Know What to Plan in Advance?

Leftover scraps of many posters with text: Don't End Up with a "Hot Mess" after NaNo

Do you smell it? The crisp air, the fallen leaves? (Unless you’re Down Under.) It’s almost time for NaNoWriMo, when thousands of writers will try to cram 50,000 words into a 30-day deadline. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing NaNo this year, as I’m not in the right spot with any […]

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October 10, 2013

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What Do Your Characters Falsely Believe?

Text: How Are Your Characters (big red letters) WRONG!

Last year, I wrote a series of posts about a fabulous presentation by Michael Hauge on “Using Inner Conflict to Create Powerful Love Stories.” But the teachings I picked up from the presentation went far beyond being applicable only to romance. Blogger extraordinaire Janice Hardy was in the workshop with me, and […]

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September 26, 2013

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Are Beat Sheets Intimidating? Cut through the Clutter

Beat Sheets: Back to the Basics

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of story structure. I’ve created several beat sheets and have oodles of posts about the topic. But I’m also not a math person, so the idea of working in Excel for all those worksheets gave me the heebie-jeebies at first. I’m probably not […]

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September 19, 2013

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How to Find the Start of Our Story

Plant sprouting with text: Finding the Start of Our Story

A lot goes into deciding how to begin our story. We have to introduce the characters, the story, and the setting. We have to make it interesting, not confusing, or not accidentally misleading. Etc., etc., etc. If we think about it too much, we might seize up and not write […]

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September 3, 2013

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Do Beat Sheets Lead to Formulaic Writing?

Page of math formulas with text: Are Beat Sheets Too Formulaic?

Last week, Slate.com ran an article about how Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat book is ruining movies. According to that post’s author, “Snyder’s beat sheet has taken over Hollywood screenwriting. … Intentionally or not, it’s become a formula—a formula that threatens the world of original screenwriting as we know it.” I’ve […]

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July 23, 2013

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