NaNo Prep: Finding the Beats of Your Story, featuring Jessica Brody

Oct 15, 2018

Jessica Brody

Do you feel stuck in your story? Not sure where to begin, or where to go from here? This episode has real solutions! Jessica Brody has taken a popular structure used for screenplay writing and adapted it for novelists—and in this episode she unpacks how that works, explaining beats and how writers can think about them and use them to crack their own stories. As they gear up for NaNoWriMo, Grant and Brooke consider the value of structure, and also reiterate that no matter your approach, NaNo can be a game-changer in your writing process.

ABOUT JESSICA BRODY

Jessica Brody is the author of more than 17 novels for teens, tweens, and adults including The Geography of Lost Things, The Chaos of Standing Still, Better You Than Me, A Week of Mondays, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, Sky Without Stars, and the three books in the sci-fi Unremembered trilogy. She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants and the forthcoming LEGO Disney Princess chapter books. Additionally, Jessica’s first non-fiction book, Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (a plotting guide for novelists) will release in October, 2018. Jessica’s books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and Unremembered and 52 Reasons to Hate My Father are currently in development as major motion pictures. She lives with her husband and three dogs near Portland, Oregon. Find Jessica on Twitter @JessicaBrody

NaNo Prep Action: Plot as You Go

Scaffolding is a plot-as-you go device for both memoirists and novelists. When you scaffold, you’re projecting out what’s coming next, one chapter at a time, and preferably even one scene at a time. Any time you sit down to write, identify what scene you’re going to write next. Jot down in a single bullet point not to exceed two or three sentences what you want that scene to be about. If the scene ends up changing while you write, update the scaffolding. Do this for every scene until you start to become comfortable enough to do it for every chapter—scaffolding out a full chapter at a time before you sit down to write. The point of this exercise is to give you some direction. It serves as a compass, pointing you in the direction you’ve determined to go. Little by little, you’ll be able to project farther out, giving yourself some parameters but also allowing you to feel the freedom to wander and explore within those parameters.

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