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Story Ideas – Help! My Story Sucks! Fixing Structural Issues

Sometimes, you'll get through an outline, put together a scenes list, and start writing - only to discover that *something* doesn't quite work. How can you pinpoint these things early and save yourself extensive re-writes later? I've invited "Story Guru" Joe Nassise - an NYT Bestseller with over 1m books in print - to help me fix a few problems I found in my first outline. You can also download the "before v after" scenes list to see how it all works in practice.

SOMETIMES, YOU’ll GET through an outline, put together a scenes list, and start writing – only to discover that *something* doesn’t quite work. How can you pinpoint these things early and save yourself extensive re-writes later? I’ve invited “Story Guru” Joe Nassise – an NYT Bestseller with over 1m books in print – to help me fix a few problems I found in my first outline. You can also download the “before v after” scenes list to see how it all works in practice.

Your outline and your scenes list is your “roadmap” – helping you know exactly what to write when you sit down as your desk. But sometimes, you’ll spot problems – here’s how to fix them BEFORE you get 50,000 words into your first draft and have to go back and re-write it!

Each scene in your scenes list should fall under one of the main 4 phases or 3 game-changing moments:

  • Introduction phase – we see the protagonist in his / her everyday environment. The reader forms an emotional bond with your character(s), so they actually care what happens next
  • Game-changing moment #1 – something happens to the main character, changing the course of their lives permanently
  • Reactive phase – the main character “runs around like a chicken with their head cut off’ trying to determine what they should do
  • Game-changing moment #2 – here, “the die is cast” and the main character decides upon a course of action in an attempt to reach their goals
  • Proactive phase – the main character attempts to influence their environment and circumstances in order to reach their goals, or – “putting the plan into action”
  • Game-changing moment #3 – the main character finally receives “the last piece of the puzzle” and can now make a final push to meet their goals
  • Conclusion phase – the main character achieves their goals (or fails to) and the “loose ends” of the story are tied off

With this structure in place, it becomes easier to plan and outline your story – but what happens if you make a mistake? Find out in this video – and download the “before vs after” document below, so you can see how this works in practice

Comments

  1. Alyne de Winter says:

    This was really helpful. I have lots more clarity about game changers and how to outilne this all out first. Thanks you and Joe.

  2. Alyne de Winter says:

    This is the 3rd time I watched this. I like the context of a conversation. It has sorted me out and I am tweaking the ending of an old book of mine that I haven’t promoted much yet. AND Joe has gotten me into “series” mode with at least 2 volumes to tell a very dark story he helped me with and it is exciting now and has done wonders for the concept—even the elusive title of the book. If 2 books become 3 it will be ok. :)))
    Thanks you guys!

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