Thank you for joining the Storyboard Adventure. 👏🏻
Most members are here because they want to turn an idea into a novel, but not just any old story will do. They want to craft a story that people will buy, read, and recommend. Is that you?
On this marvelous adventure, I’ll share my lessons learned. Treat my advice like ripe watermelon: eat the juicy meat 🍉 and spit out the seeds!
Lesson Learned: There is no single right way to write, and principles (not rules) work most of the time.
Common Traits Shared by Best-Selling Authors
Successful authors offer conflicting advice, frustrating writers. When they present their processes as rules, that limits learning opportunities.
After scouring interviews and quotes, I came up with three shared traits:
- Passion: They love to write, showing a passion for craft.
- Discipline: They stay on task, using discipline to finish.
- Courage: They publish their work, demonstrating courage to progress.
This research encouraged me. After all, I love to write, I’m willing to do the work, and I recognize that any worthwhile accomplishment in life usually includes some level of emotional risk.
How about you?
Lesson Learned: Did you notice that talent didn’t make the list? Practiced skills can beat undisciplined talent.
Goal Setting: What Does Success Look Like to You?
With my first writing project, I dreamed of holding my printed book in hand. Three published books later, the tangible evidence proved my passion, discipline, and courage.
Although I fulfilled my publishing dream, I mostly heard crickets 🦗 and few cash-register bells 🔕. What went wrong?
With today’s technology, anyone can publish, and a book in hand does not automatically translate into sales. For example, readers may not share a writer’s passion for a topic.
Lesson Learned: Before writing a novel, I learned to evaluate if my passion for an idea aligned with buying trends.
The Acquired Skills of Storytelling
Still stinging from my goal-setting lesson, I hit the books. Literally.
In the corporate world, I discovered I could solve most problems by reading a book on the topic. The resolution to problems offered opportunities to move up the ranks.
Here’s a summary of my writer’s journal notes turned into action steps:
- Premise: Convert a story idea into a strategic premise.
- Story Spine: Tell the core story in a fairy-tale format that names the hero, defines the problem, gives the beginning and ending, and hints at the external, internal, and philosophical goals and themes.
- Story Body: Write the short version of the entire story in a fairy-tale format.
- Global Story Beats: Divide the story into eighteen beats comprising single scenes and scene sequences. (Click here to download a PDF copy of Global Story Beats.)
- Logline: Create one-to-two-sentences based on the Global Story Beats, enabling others to envision and evaluate the entire story.
- Story Scenes: Group the plot and characters into scenes that advance the story. Group sequences of scenes to match specific Global Story Beats (e.g., Setup).
- Self-edits: Tighten loose structure, flesh out underdeveloped characters, fill plot holes, clarify theme, and lower the potential cost of a professional edit. Note: A professional edit can fix many issues, but unless you’ve hired a ghostwriter, the editor will not rewrite your story.
After reading the seven steps, you might wonder: What have I gotten myself into? Don’t worry! 😯 I’m going to break it down for you in future posts. You’ll have opportunities to learn from my mistakes and build on the notes in my writing journal, curated from advice gleaned from top authors and screenwriters.
More Writing Lessons Learned
Best-selling authors make crafting a story look easy. It’s not!
When we create, it’s somewhat of a random walk of thought, experience, and research. Reading is linear—a thread of cohesive story linking scene after scene.
Lesson Learned: At times, I let my creative juices flow and afterwards, weaved the random threads into a cohesive story. Other times, I started with the premise and worked forward through the steps. Sometimes, I already knew my ending and worked backwards using the Story Spine. There’s no single right or wrong way. Regardless of the method used, every time I still had to put the finishing touches on my story by making sure the narrative flow conformed to the audience’s linear expectations.
The Talent Versus Skill Argument
People often confuse talent with skill. Any level of talent requires practiced skills to accomplish your goals.
Lesson Learned: Acquiring and honing your writing skills is within your control! Talent can help, but by far it’s the application of writing principles and skills that have the most potential to achieve your heart’s desire.
In the next post, I’ll share how you can develop your idea into a premise by answering a series of questions.