A Story Solution Bonus: The Story Jacket

Write Craft with Sean and Johnny

Enter: The StoryJacket.  

After the hook and a rough sketch of characters and plot, but before the outline goes too far, we always go through the process of getting what we call a StoryJacket on that outline. This is a full developmental edit of the narrative we’re planning to tell — the kind of edit where big things often change because they don’t quite work, in contrast to a line edit that fixes commas and misspellings.  

Developmental edits are traditionally done after the first draft of a book is finished, whereas we do our StoryJackets when the outline is still fresh clay. Doing it the other way seems silly to us, because if something is wrong — if the editor says she doesn’t believe Sally’s motivation, or that Jack doesn’t change enough from beginning to end — then big chunks of the book will need to be rewritten.  

Why not figure that stuff out early and tell the story right the first time?  

During a StoryJacket, our developmental editor looks at the characters, their projected arcs, the plot we have in mind, and more. She asks herself if it all works. Are the plot and protagonist arcs suitably intertwined and interdependent? Does the plot bring about change in the character, and does the character’s change make the climax logical and inevitable? She looks at the invented psyches of our characters and asks herself if she believes them and the way they conduct themselves. Are there questions that a reader would have that the story doesn’t answer? Are all the loose ends tidied up? 

(There’s a lot to the StoryJacketing process, and if you’re interested in the way it’s done and how to do it for your own books, you might want to check out Episode 26 of our Story Studio Podcast. In that episode, our story expert Bonnie lays out the exact process she uses.) 

This excerpt was taken out of the book The Story Solution by Sean M. Platt & Johnny Truant. The Story Solution isn't just about writing, it's about the story of your life. While StoryShop University is hitting on the points that may help you in writing, if you want to take charge of your life and construct your story the way a writer does, The Story Solution is for you. 

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