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Story Coaching Case Study: Stephanie Raffelock

Stephanie Raffelock came to me twice–once in January and then again in February. The first time she came to me, we talked about her complex story idea and working together to bring it to life. She wasn’t quite ready to get support yet.

But after a few weeks of trying to do it herself, she came back to me, determined to figure it out.

The thing I loved about working with Stephanie is she’s really a student of story. She showed up every week with a finished assignment, whether she knew what she was doing or not. She wasn’t afraid to attempt it. She wasn’t afraid to fail.

And that’s why she was able to successfully finish her novel.

In her own words, she shares how my 90-day Author Intensive program helped her go from story idea to completed novel draft.

Stephanie Raffelock

Stephanie Raffelock

Name: Stephanie Raffelock

Location: Ashland, Ore.

Occupation: Businesswoman

Website: SoManyBlogsSoLittleTime 

How long were you thinking about/working on your story before you hired me?

I’d already written two novels when I hired you. Neither of them had a story that hung together beginning to end; and while there were moments of talent and flashes of awesomeness (is that even a word?), those things won’t make a reader keep turning the page, waiting to find out what’s going to happen if there is no story.

Where were you at with your story prior to working with me?

I was in writing hell with a dash of angst thrown in for good measure.

What fears did you have before you signed up?

What if I didn’t understand how to construct a story?

What finally caused you to say, “I’m ready for support?”

I did a Story Analysis with Larry Brooks, who pointed out that I wasn’t ready to have a story analyzed, since I didn’t really have a story yet, and that what I needed was a story planner and a story coach. That was you.

What did you like best about this program?

I liked how you worked with me step-by-step from idea to concept to premise, and then worked with me on plugging in plot points, pinch points and developing characters.

The process was quite creative and even though I was itching to write, the planning and development of a story was much more creative than I thought it would be.

 

How did you feel about the feedback you received from me each week?

The feedback kept me thinking about the plot and how to make it better. You could see things that I couldn’t since I was so close to them . . . rookie mistakes, I’m sure. Plus we had a lot of fun talking about writing.

You inspire. I’m eager to start my re-write, utilizing your weekly notes.

How does it feel to have a finished draft of your story?

Friggen’ fan-tas-tic!

How long did it take you to write your draft (in days/weeks)?

About 5 and a half weeks.

What made the biggest difference working with me versus trying to do it yourself?

You were my guide, my light. You kept me from getting lost. If you don’t have a structure to work from, after about twenty-five thousand words, you will not know where you are, let alone where you need to go.

You made sure that I planned out the story so that I knew where I was headed.

Was your experience and results in this program worth the money you invested?

Though I do not have story structure and story architecture fully integrated in my mind yet, this was a great beginning!  This novel is my best to date. As a result, I will do a second project with you.

As for the money, this is an investment in myself and my chosen craft.

 

Are you ready to discover what coaching can do for your story? Join me for a free Clarity Call and find out if The Author Intensive is right for you.

Story Coaching Case Study: Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer came to me at the end of 2014 with a story idea he’d been working on for a few years. But no matter what he tried, he couldn’t move past the plot problems that were holding the story back.

In his own words, he shares how my 90-day Author Intensive program helped him go from story idea to completed novel draft.

GlennDyer

Glenn Dyer

Name: Glenn Dyer

Location: Park City, Utah

Occupation: Retired

How long were you thinking about/working on your story before you hired me?

Started working on the project back in 2000. Would pick it up for a while then drop it.

Where were you at with your story prior to working with me?

Back in 2004, I got about 190 pages into a draft but plot problems became a big issue and I dropped the project. I picked it back up around September 2014.

What fears did you have before you signed up to work with me?

That the plot problems were not solvable.

What finally caused you to say, “I’m ready to get support with writing my novel?”

I turned 61 in October of last year. No time to waste.

What did you like best about this program?

The specific feedback about plot, characters and other things that didn’t make sense to me [before doing this program]. The written feedback, which could be revisited as many times as needed. Also, that Jennifer were available via FB at anytime during the term.

How did you feel about the feedback you received from me each week?

I found it most valuable. In particular, the feedback received during the first six weeks was critical to being able to finish the draft.

How does it feel to have a finished draft of your story?

Tough to describe. I was so fearful that I would never get it done after wanting to do it for so many years.

I never mentioned this before, but back in 2003 I promised my son, Mike, that if he would go out for cross-country in his sophomore year, that I would finish my novel. He ran cross-country for three years. I just finished the novel.

It was important to finish it for many reasons, but that reason was the most important. When I told him that I was “slow” in meeting my end of the deal, he responded by saying that my end was harder. He’s a good kid.

How long did it take you to write your draft (in days/weeks)?

Sixty-two days.

What made the biggest difference working with me versus trying to do it yourself? 

Having someone to bounce ideas off during the first 6 weeks was critical.

Was your experience and results in this program worth the money you invested?

In my case, yes. Definitely.

 

Are you ready to discover what coaching can do for your story? Join me for a free Clarity Call and find out if The Author Intensive is right for you.

Idea to Draft Case Study: Christopher Y.

Christopher Y. joined the Idea to Draft Story Intensive with a story idea in his mind… and today he’s a few thousand words away from being finished. In his own words, here’s how the Idea to Draft Story Intensive has helped him take his story from “idea seed” to (almost) completed first draft:

1. Where were you at with your story before joining the workshop?

I had a fairly complex story idea, and was struggling to apply Larry Brooks’ “Story Engineering” principles to it.

2. What challenge did you have/what was preventing your from writing your novel prior to joining Idea to Draft?

My approach to writing fiction lacked structure and discipline. From reading “Story Engineering” I knew what an outline should be like, but had trouble applying it to my own story. I would sit down with my story idea in mind and type out sentences, hoping that the various milestones would emerge from them.

3. What, if any, hesitations did you have about signing up for this workshop?

Well, there is a twelve-hour time difference between me and Jennifer. So I did wonder whether the logistics would work. As it turned out, there were no problems on my end at all.

4. What changes have you noticed in your writing? In your story? In your life?

I’ve become a “butt-in-chair” fiction writer, which is great. Professionally, I have over 20 years of experience as an advertising copywriter, and I never had any trouble applying that mindset to my commercial writing; in fact, with deadlines and my paycheque at stake, it was the only way to get things done. When it came to fiction, though, I still clung to a romanticised ideal of the writer who produced stuff strictly through inspiration and spur-of-the-moment insights. Not any more, thank goodness.

My story, while still complex, has a definite shape to it now. You can see the skeleton where all the other bits need to be attached. I am still working on my first draft but I have no doubts about whether I will finish it. I will because at every step, I know exactly what the next step will be. No more feeling around and hoping. This is very liberating.

And as far as my life goes, I am beginning to allow myself to think of myself as a fiction writer. This is because I know now the things that a fiction writer needs to know to get the work done. You cannot put a price on this.

5. What specific feature(s) of this workshop did you like best?

This workshop is all about helping you put Larry Brooks’ principles to work. It’s the practical application of theory, if you like. This is never easy to do without knowledgeable guidance, in any endeavour. More specifically, writing a novel can seem like a huge, overwhelming undertaking.

Jennifer’s step-by-step approach breaks it down into very manageable individual tasks. You just lay down one brick today, another the next. Anyone can do that. Then one day you look back and realise your wall is already half built. The intimidation factor is completely gone.

6. Would you recommend this workshop to other writers? Why or why not?

I’d definitely recommend it. But only if the writer is committed to the idea of structuring and outlining the whole story before writing the first draft. This is not for writers who write to discover their story’s ending, or to find out who their characters are.

>> Learn more about Idea to Draft

Idea to Draft Case Study: Chrissy Medeiros

chrissy_medeirosChrissy Medeiros joined the Idea to Draft Story Intensive with a story idea in her mind … and today she’s 74,000 words into her draft and a few thousand words away from being finished. In her own words, here’s how the Idea to Draft Story Intensive has helped her take her story from “idea seed” to (almost) completed first draft:

1. Where Were You With Your Story Before Joining This Workshop?

I had a very vague idea surrounding a paranormal romance before I joined the workshop.

2. What Challenge Did You Have and/or What Was Preventing You From Writing Your Novel Prior to Joining the Idea to Draft Workshop?

Time, and fear prevented me from starting my novel prior to joining the workshop. I am a stay-at-home mom to a three-year old, and time is something that’s hard to manage. Also, I had an awful inner critic that caused me to question everything that I wrote.

I feared that I wouldn’t be able to construct a workable, cohesive plot, and I feared that I wouldn’t be able to create three-dimensional characters that changed from the beginning of the story, to the end. I even feared that I’d read too many writing craft books, and wouldn’t be able to transfer my knowledge to the story!

3. What, If Any, Hesitations Did You Have Signing Up For This Workshop?

I just didn’t know if I would have the time, and dedication it takes to finish a novel. Now that I’m almost done, I have my answer, and it feels wonderful to have a story to share with the world!

4. What Changes Have You Noticed In Your Story? In Your Writing? In Your Life?

By the midpoint of my story, I noticed that everything started to improve: my descriptions, my ability to “show, don’t tell,” my ability to weave plot threads together, my dialogue, the inner thoughts of my characters… Things that I’d felt I’d mentioned randomly in the beginning of my story, came in handy in the later parts. Everything seemed to flow, and not feel as forced as it’d been before I started.

Now that I’m nearing the end of my first draft, however, I noticed something had changed: my writing started to flow, the plot suddenly started to make sense, and my characters now live like real people in my mind. I had someone to encourage me, someone who I could share my ideas with, I had someone who cared about helping people reach their writing goals.

Yes, you have to be willing to do the work to reach your dreams, but to have someone there to push you forward when you want to give up, that someone is hard to find, and it’s priceless.

If I didn’t sign up for this workshop, my story would still only exist in my imagination, and I wouldn’t be at 72,000 words in my work-in-progress.

5. What Specific Features Did You Like Best About This Workshop?

I love the feeling of receiving feedback on my story! Jennifer finds a terrific balance between offering constructive feedback, and inspiration at the same time. For instance: there were parts of my novel that didn’t fall into the correct milestones of story construction: the “research” parts fell into the “attack” parts, etc.

While the writing itself was fine, it wasn’t in the right place. She encouraged me to continue forward, and later I could go back to fix it – that is the key to success. Don’t stop writing. If you keep going back to edit and revise, you’ll never finish. As long as you’re aware of which milestone you should be hitting, than you’ll finish!

6. Would You Recommend This Workshop to Other Writers? Why Or Why Not?

Yes, I would highly recommend this workshop to other writers. If they are dedicated, if they are serious about pursuing their dream, than this workshop will help them fulfill that goal of completing a novel. Some writers might worry if they consider themselves pantsers when it comes to plotting out their novel.

Please don’t worry though!

Before I took this workshop, I’d been a pantser, but Jennifer worked with me to find a balance between creating a flexible map that could change as the story progressed. That way, I still had a goal and milestones to meet, so I wouldn’t write myself into a corner, but I could also change some elements if I’d wanted to on the map. That way, I could keep going and finish my novel!

7. Anything Else You’d Like to Add?

For a long time I daydreamed of “one day starting a novel.” That was six or seven years ago! Until you’re actively pursuing your goals, they’re just dreams with no substance, no real depth.

Before you realize it, the years will have passed, and you’ll have nothing to show the world. Don’t let another year pass, put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard and be proactive about pursuing your dream!

 You can learn more about the Idea to Draft Story Intensive here.

Idea to Draft Story Intensive Case Study: Paula Thorne

Case Study_PaulaPaula Thorne joined the Spring 2014 Idea to Draft Story Intensive with a story idea in her mind, but no clear way to execute it on paper … and today she’s more than halfway finished with her first draft. In her own words, here’s how the Idea to Draft Story Intensive has helped her take her story from “idea seed” to (almost) completed first draft:

1. Where Were You With Your Story Before Joining This Workshop?

It was just an idea I had in my head. Nothing on paper.

2. What Challenge Did You Have and/or What Was Preventing You From Writing Your Novel Prior to Joining the Idea to Draft Workshop?

I always wanted to write it, but didn’t really know how to start and I easily get distracted.

3. What, If Any, Hesitations Did You Have Signing Up For This Workshop?

The timeline and managing the deadlines. I was on maternity leave, but had very long and busy days with my baby. The only time I had to write was 2 naps (which went down to 1) and at night after she went to bed. Luckily she started sleeping through the night. But I also had other chores / stuff to do during this time too.

4. What Changes Have You Noticed In Your Story? In Your Writing? In Your Life?

My idea finally took shape and I’ve actually been writing every day. Some days not a whole lot is written, but something is written every day.

5. What Specific Features Did You Like Best About This Workshop?

The timeline and tight deadlines really kept me focused on what needed to be done. I respond very well to deadline pressure which has also helped keep me motivated.

6. Would You Recommend This Workshop to Other Writers? Why Or Why Not?

I would recommend this workshop to others. The timeline / deadline of 4 months may be off-putting at first (and may not for everyone), but I definitely found it helped keep me focused on what needed to be accomplished each week. One step at a time in a logical manner.

As I mentioned before, I’m easily distracted so unless I have a bright flashing sign telling me what needs to get done I will find something else to do.

7. Anything Else You’d Like to Add?

I have made several half assed attempts at writing before. I say half assed now even though at the time I considered it to be serious. But it never led anywhere.

I didn’t finished my first draft in this workshop, but I did get just over half way which is the furthest I have ever come in any of my writing. I truly believe it never would have happened without this workshop.

And the good news is that I’m still writing. Thank you!

 You can learn more about the Idea to Draft Story Intensive here.