Story Checklists That Work

I always seem to need a little help on keeping track of the events that should take place while I am writing. I visited a screenwriters site and the checklist provided is very helpful. Take a look at Alexandra Sokoloff.

Story Elements checklist

I was teaching this Screenwriting Tricks for Authors class at the Jubilee Jambalaya Writers Conference this past weekend and I compiled a list of all the story structure elementsI’ve been breaking down (okay, I’ve undoubtedly left some out…).I thought I’d post it here, too.It’s a great list to use when you’re brainstorming index cards, because even if you don’t know the exact scenes yet, you can write the elements on cards and stick them into your story structure grid in relative order and feel like you’ve done a whole day’s work. Hah!

No, what I really mean is, when you’re writing out cards for just general story elements, it, you will be shocked at how great scenes suddenly come to you that will fill in huge gaps in your story. If not right that second, then after you sleep on it, or a few days later.

The post on doing index cards is here, and I’ve linked to more in-depth discussions on each individual act, too.



– Opening image
– Meet the hero or heroine
– Hero/ine’s inner and outer desire.
– Hero/ine’s ghost or wound
– Hero/ine’s arc
– Inciting Incident/Call to Adventure
– Meet the antagonist (and/or introduce a mystery, which is what you do when you’re going to keep your antagonist hidden to reveal at the end)
– State the theme/what’s the story about?
– Allies
– Mentor
 (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story).
– Love interest
– Plant/Reveal (or: Set ups and Payoffs)
– Hope/Fear (and Stakes)
– Time Clock (possibly. May not have one or may be revealed later in the story)
– Sequence One climax
– Central Question
– Act One climax


Easy Book Outline Ideas

I really want to be able to create a simple outline for my story. Often times my writing flow gets interrupted because I am so worried about sticking to my outline.  I found some help from a blog post by Bess Weatherby at DYI MFA. She has suggested 4 ways to outline a book that are simple and allow a write to hang on to their free flow of writing.


Manuscript Page

Manuscript Page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Four Methods for Outlining Your Book

by Bess Weatherbypublished in Writing

This is the fourth  post in my series on the benefits of writing with an outline. In my first post, I listed three reasons why most writers need an outline. In the second, I discussed three things to keep in mind when creating an outline. In the third, I talked about how to use one while drafting. In this post, we’ll get into some of the nuts and bolts of different types of outlines.

Let’s start with the obvious: every book is different. And, also obvious: every writer is different. Slightly less obvious: the method of writing each book will be different. Most writers find a system. Sometimes, books blow up that system. At some point, the method that worked for your last book or your best friend or your favorite writer will fail you. Or you’ll discover a new method. Or you’ll realize you’ve let the character drag you kicking and screaming into a murderous subplot you did-not-see-coming! And no one but other writers understands how this can happen.

At this point, I’m often tempted to quote the Cheshire Cat: “We’re all mad here.”

It is in times like these that an outline can be useful. It’s a bridge from your inspiration to the words on the page. A reminder of where you want the story to go. A map. READ MORE HERE.

A Visual Guide To Writing

Sometimes reading about writing can get a little old. So, I found a video that will walk you through the process of writing. You may have seen this before, but take a moment to enjoy the efforts of the artist. It’s a bit long but worth every minute. Enjoy!


Planting The Seeds Of Promotion

Writing is like tending a garden. At least, that’s the way it’s referenced by author Joe Konrath. You have to pull the weeds, water and fertilize, which means constantly updating your website or blog, gathering new followers. Promoting your book, of course, is an important piece and Joe provides lots of helpful tips on getting your project seen.


Ascott House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, UK | A ...

Ascott House Gardens, Buckinghamshire, UK | A view of the magnificent mirror flower borders in high summer (21 of 22) (Photo credit: ukgardenphotos)



Tend Your Garden

Your ebooks function much like a garden.

One rare occassions, a plant will thrive with little help from you.
Others may whither and die no matter how much help you give them.
But the majority need to be constantly tended. Planted, watered, fertilized, weeded, pruned, mulched, replanted, harvested. In other words, lots of work.
Ebooks aren’t a Mr. Popeill invention where you can set it and forget it. Quite the opposite. You need to pay attention, and keep active, or your garden won’t thrive.
Everyone experiences slow downs in sales. It’s inevitable, and it seems to be cyclical, but not in any sort of way I’ve been able to prodect. Sales seem to rise and fall for reasons unknown.
But if you’re doing what you can to make your books discoverable, you have a better shot at sales than those authors who self-publish then self-ignore. READ MORE HERE.
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Author Exposed: Cat Michaels

I love sharing information for writers. I have found some very interesting bits and pieces that will help you in your writing process. What I love most is talking with authors and learning about them and their path to publication. Please help me welcome author Cat Michaels. She has some awesome information to share with you!


Cat Michaels

Cat Michaels

Check out her awesome video.


How long have you been writing?

Seems like forever! My first ‘novel’ was handwritten in fourth grade — a western about two sisters, Nikki and Vikki, traveling west in a wagon train. I co-wrote it with a girlfriend: she penned the Nikki character, and I did the Vikki parts. I also kept journals from middle school through adulthood. On the other side of the pencil, I taught writing to elementary and middle school students who had a learning disability. Plus, I supported that population and those with Asperger’s syndrome as their writing coach at a community college.

Have you always written for children?

My children’s stories began about 20 years ago when I wanted to find unique birthday gifts for my nieces and nephews. I started writing stories for them, and it just evolved from there. A few years ago, I decided to polish off the stories, take advantage of new digital publishing technology, and publish.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

  • Dr. Suess: His creative characters and drawings; language all his own
  • Charles Dickens: Characters, characters, characters!
  • Recently: JK Rowling: Created a whole world of characters, conventions, and setting

What drives and motivates your writing?

Some days, I sit in my writer’s nest, stare at my laptop, and wonder why I write. It’s certainly not to find fame or fortune! A writerly life is hard work, and it takes years to see results from all that effort. It can also be lonely for someone like me, who likes being around people. Having said that, I enjoy writing and the challenges that come with it. I love experimenting with new technology. I hope readers will smile over something they read in my books. I also want to nudge young readers to look at the world in different ways and use their imagination and creativity.

Do you feel it’s important for writers to use social media? How?

I’m over the moon finding visuals for my Pinterest boards, meeting folk on Goodreads, and posting on my blog and Facebook page. Social media is a gotta-have for connecting with readers and other writers and staying on top of publishing trends. However as much as I love it, social media can be overwhelming. I limit myself to an hour or two daily, but sometimes (especially when I’m launching a new book), I can be on social media for days and don’t have time for writing.

What books for writers would you recommend?

One book attracted me because it contains advise from so many writers all in one place:

Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, editor Meredith Maran

What advice do you have for new Indie writers?

  • Write what you know, then edit, polish, re-write, and repeat.
  • Think of yourself as a writer *and* (gasp) an entrepreneur.
  • Invest quality time with social media to make your book discoverable.
  • Find the best team you can afford (editor, graphic designer, cover artist, etc.), and go slow to get it right.
  • Stay in it for the long haul: writing (and all the editing, book formatting, marketing, etc., that go with it) is a journey, but worth the effort if you have tenacity, talent, and optimism.
  • Support other writers and pay it forward because success is best when shared.
  • Step away from the keyboard every once in awhile.

What is the goal for yourself in the next 5 years?

I want to be 5 pounds lighter and 2-3 books heavier!
Seriously, I’m converting my print books into e-readers and then will notch it up by finding a robust digital technology that supports high-quality, interactive books and reading apps. Think appeal of a video game but with educational value. I want to keep expanding my network of readers, parents, teachers, and writers. And travel some place very cool — like places in the UK I pinned on my Pinterest board — to experience different cultures and get story ideas.

Thanks so much Cat for stopping by and sharing your story. Everyone please be sure to stop by Kristi’s Book Nook where I am hosting another interview with Cat and a book giveaway of her interactive story Finding Fuzzy.


Finding Fuzzy


CAT MICHAELS started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since. After earning an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas, she spent two decades helping students from kindergarten to college reach their potential. 
She also managed communication and resource development programs for an international high-tech company that included writing press releases and articles for trade journals. After recession and downsizings, she returned to her education roots, serving at a community college as a writing coach and learning specialist for students with Asperger’s syndrome and learning disabilities. 
Cat spins tales of everyday life, with a twist of magic or twinge of mystery, that open young minds to new ways of thinking and looking at the world. Illustrations by watercolor artist Irene A. Jahns help bring that world to life. 
Cat and her family live in North Carolina where she designs playful gardens, dabbles in all things digital, and writes.
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