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7 Steps to Story Structure & Summary

How I’m overwhelmed but don’t worry, I’ve got this.

Podcast Episode #30

My name is Naomi Shibles and I’m here to tell you Why I Need This Author Gig.

With each episode, I’ll share a little bit about my writing journey, sprinkled with some anecdotes so that we can share a laugh.

In this episode, I cover:

  • The feeling overwhelmed freeze

  • An opportunity for self-awareness

  • All the steps to unstick your stuckness


Hello Holiday People!

Have you ever had a task in hand, but then all of a sudden it feels overwhelming? Feeling overwhelmed makes me freeze. I’ll literally stare at a wall, my body on the ‘reserve fuel’ setting, brain shuffling through possible plans. My aunt recently told me during my palm reading that I solve problems like a computer, and I kind of love that. It makes the wall staring seem more organized, at least.

Attention all of you Curious, Perceptive, and otherwise Daring individuals out there: My aunt happens to be a highly sought after expert at palm reading.
I believe that nothing but good can come from understanding ourselves better, so if you are interested in learning what makes you tick, reach out and I’ll connect you.

The reason that I’m feeling overwhelmed is because I need to add 10,000 words to a manuscript and all of a sudden, I can’t imagine where to put them. Maybe it’s a silly thing to become overwhelmed by, but there I was, staring at the wall.

teen boy surrounded by books
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

So what to do?

I tackled the problem by examining my story’s structure and pacing:

  1. I wrote down each chapter number with its corresponding page numbers.

  2. Next, I summarized each chapter in a succinct blurb, ideally no longer than 2-4 sentences.

  3. From there, I looked at the length of each chapter. With around 10 pages being an average page count for each, I wrote down the exact number of pages that I had for each chapter.

  4. The first thing I noticed was a chapter whose blurb ran closer to 12 sentences—way longer than the others. That chapter is 16 pages long. It encompasses several scenes. Could this chapter be broken up into 2 shorter passages? Would that smooth out the pacing?

  5. I skimmed the previous chapter’s blurb, this long one, and then the following chapter, noticing that the transition between the long chapter and the subsequent chapter is a bit abrupt.

  6. I went back and read the blurbs beginning with the first chapter to the last to confirm that another scene in this spot would work, move the story along better, and add to a chapter split off from the too-long one.

  7. That added scene is going to be where I’ll put my 10,000 words. Now I know my next step: write a new scene bridging those 2 chapters.

Overwhelm managed.

BONUS: A bonus benefit to this exercise is that all of those chapter blurbs add up to my story’s summary, saving me time when I’m ready to query.

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