C. Michelle Jefferies is a writer who believes that the way to examine our souls is to explore the deep and dark as well as the shallow. To manipulate words in a way that makes a person think and maybe even second guess. Her worlds include suspense, urban fantasy, and an occasional twist of steampunk. When she is not writing, she can be found studying and teaching about structure, on the yoga mat, hand binding journals, dyeing cloth, and serving ginger tea. The author and creator divides her time between stories, projects, and mothering four of her seven children on the wild and windy plains of Wyoming.

The In(s) and Out(s) of Series and Story Guides by C. Michelle Jefferies

Ever forgotten what a character does in chapter four, and you need that information in chapter 23? A Story guide can help eliminate issues like that. This fun and easy workbook lays the how-to's of keeping a story guide out for you and makes suggestions as to what needs to go in such a guide.

 

REVIEWS

  • "This book is a resourceful and genius guide, filled with helpful ways to keep track of your ideas, and develop your story, characters, and setting."

    – Lauri Shoenfeild
  • "I love the magic of writing and I enjoy learning new ways to manage the ins and outs of the creation process. I love the simplicity of this guide. In this book C Michelle Jeffries explains exactly what is needed to create your own story guide without burdening the reader with unneeded fluff. This book is to the point and I feel it can be used by authors both new and old."

    – Carol Storey Costley
  • "Have you ever found yourself forgetting a character's attributes or physical traits halfway through your book? Is your plot getting tangled and confusing during your writing process? ? C. Michelle Jeffries has written a creative book full of great organizational tips for authors of every genre using her vast, personal experiences. The tone is light and engaging. No dry commentary here!"

    – Nisa Swineford
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

Ever gotten to the middle of the story and not been able to remember the eye color of the girl the main character meets in chapter number two?

This is why story guides were created and are used. Some, actually most published authors I've met have some sort of "things in their books" sorting, tracking method. Whether it is hard copy like I use, or electronic, the end result is the same. Instead of going back to chapter two, and searching, you open the story guide to your notes, and there sits the information you need.

I remember the day I decided that I needed some sort of method to track details. I was in the groove with drafting and needed to include some detail that I had previously mentioned but had forgotten the exactness of that detail. I had options at that point, stop the groove and go looking for the information, or place a reminder note in the text and go back when the awesome groove was over. I ultimately chose the mark this point choice and kept drafting. I did not at that point have the "stop for two minutes and look it up in the guide sitting next to me" option. But later that week that changed. By the way, I use an XXXXXXXX notation in the manuscript as it is easy to see and to search for.

Enter the pink monster.

It was an easy choice purchase at the local big retail store near me. At the beginning it was a pink pristine and unmarred journal and only an inch thick. By the time I retired it, it now measures four to five inches at its widest and is held together by Elmer's glue-all, scotch tape, and a big rubber band usually used by artists to secure paper to Masonite boards.

That journal holds every little piece of information I had and needed for writing a 9 book (two series) parallel saga. And in the back I pasted a few motivational quotes for when I was struggling with some aspect of writing. It was coined the pink monster by a friend and it became famous in my small circle of the writing world. That thing went everywhere with me and it even walked off in someone's hands at one point. But I got it back and it is now retired next to the books I wrote on my shelf.

Perhaps you are planning on going to the store and buying a blank journal ASAP, or wondering if you have one in your office so you can start today. Or, are smiling and telling yourself that you can remember everything you need to and this isn't something you need. Maybe you're right, I envy that kind of deep memory.

Either way, what follows in these pages is how I organize, assemble, and use a story guide.

Author's note, I actually still use old fashioned hard copy journals, scissors, and lots of glue sticks for this. There is something about the actual physical effort I put into the curating of the guide that helps my brain. Studies have shown that actual reading from hard copy books, writing by hand and taking notes with pen and paper does something different in the brain and we retain the information longer. Although my students in the classes I teach are about fifty-fifty on hard copy VS electronic. For flow and ease of this book I will address all points as if they are in a hard copy format. Keep in mind that the majority of the ideas discussed and shared here are universal between both formats.

A very important author's note, Series and story guides (some people call them series and book bibles) can be the best tool a fiction writer ever creates and uses. It can also be the worst purposeful distraction ever invented if the writer likes to be, wants to be, or is easily side tracked. So, while it can be awesome, one must be careful when using them.