When other outlining systems failed, and pantsing left the author with go-nowhere stories and sagging middles C. Michelle Jefferies created her own system. Her outlining system can not only assist the author needing plotting help, but it provides a template for revision and a workable synopsis at the end of the drafting process. Using the universal seven point story structure and the Master Chapter Outlining system, authors can breeze through the process of writing a great story.
"As an aspiring author, I found this workbook extremely beneficial. It's so tempting to get an idea and jump into writing the first draft. This "pantsing" method of writing gets many writers (myself included) stuck. What Jefferies says about pantsing struck a chord with me:
"This can be a problem when you get to the middle or the end of the book and you find that the book is sagging in the middle or that the book has no clear resolution or satisfaction in plot or character."
One of the things I enjoyed while applying this process to my own story idea was that it makes you think deeply about characters, their motives, and actions; it forces you to really understand your characters and guides your writing to that next level of storytelling.
Beginner or seasoned writers can benefit from Jefferies' tips and advice. I loved how Jefferies walks you through each step of her structuring method and gives plenty of space for brainstorming ideas—completing her process will even give you a working synopsis and material for a query letter. This is something I see myself using again and again."– Courtney Millecam
"I was given a copy of this workbook to help with my own plotting issues. I struggle with structure and figuring out how all those jargon-filled pieces come together to form a novel. This book simmers down the instruction to be easy and applicable. I found i could easily match plot elements to their relevant place in story structure. I'm sure this book will help me to create a more cohesive product and to better be able to discuss plot elements with writing professionals."– Rebecca Charlton
"I am a discovery writer. I like the thrill of figuring out the story as I write it. However I don't like deleting pages of story because it doesn't fit in the story. This book is a quick easy to read and re-reference book. I can plot minimally using the format provided. It still allows me the freedom to discover my story within the structure needed to make edits and rewrites so much easier/faster."– Jessica Parker
"I have this really intense love-hate relationship with story structure. I have taken my fair share of classes. I have read my weight in books. I love to learn about story structure. I hate that my brain goes out of its way to avoid letting any the information sink in.
I will always read just one more book to see if it makes sense this time. You know, because this time it just might. Oftentimes one book can help me understand one aspect of story structure only because it is worded in a way that my brain understands. I sat down with the Story Structure And Master Chapter Outline Workbook and in about two hours had more of an understanding than I have ever had. The way that C. Michelle describes the different plot points clicked for me.
I like the method that she has set forth for outlining. It is simple and brilliant at the same time. There is enough room within the workbook to write all your information down, or you can use a notebook, or even a computer file. There is space for all your story info and notes a plenty. Maps, Diagrams, Drawings. Story Details. Scene lists. Chapter Outlines. I like that there is space at the back to keep track of the business side of writing. There is a place for short and long term goals. This is not just a workbook for structure and outlining. Three thumbs up!"– Carol Michell Storey
"I've been struggling to fill the holes and address others issues with the plot of my rough draft, so I read this book straight through, hoping it would give me direction. It was a huge help!
I would suggest reading it all the way through, and then skim through it again while you write your post-it's and note cards."– Carrie Jacks
Basic Outlining and Structure
Many people have expressed frustration about structure and outlining. They say it's too complicated, or that by outlining something in great detail, they've already essentially written the book and the newness of the discovery phase is lost and there's no desire to write the book any more. That structure takes away the organic feel of writing. That the fun of writing is lost when they are expected to follow a guideline.
I hope to remedy that.
There are many styles of structure, plotting and outlining. They are all good for different people. I myself use the seven point structure as described and used by such people as Larry Brooks author of many books including "Story Architecture", and the website storyfix.com, and Dan Wells author of "I Am Not A Serial Killer." I am also going to give you insight into my own master chapter outline system which I developed as I wrote and then edited and revised my first book Emergence and then again with Latent.
There is a certain freedom and thrill in pantsing a book. The allowing the characters to do whatever they want to do is appealing and the discovery phase is often times thrilling as an author to use. The problem in pantsing is, unless you're really intuitive to the direction the story is going and needs to go, the story can wander all over the world or book. This can be a problem when you get to the middle or the end of the book and you find that the book is sagging in the middle or that the book has no clear resolution or satisfaction in plot or character.
This is where simple outlines and structure come into play. It allows the writer to have a lot of freedom in what happens in the story while providing a skeleton that can be used as a basis for the story. I often times draw an analogy between using structure and making muffins. You need certain ingredients in certain amounts at certain times. Like flour, oil, binder, leavening, and sweetener. However, like muffins, structure and basic outlining allows you to choose what type of story detail or ingredient you choose. Whether you use whole wheat flour or white, sugar or honey. Whether you write romance or horror, every genre can benefit from structure and outlining.