Write Better Stories with the Smarter Storytelling Framework

Posted by in Prose on Fire

outliningSo you want to write great stories that instantly connect with your readers, but it’s just not happening?

Maybe you’re just starting out and are unsure of how to move people with your story. Or maybe you’ve released several books, but the reviews have been… so-so. Or worse, one-star!

I’ve been there too.

In 2009 my dream was to become a full-time author, but honestly, I had no clue what I was doing.

I loved writing, and I was good at writing. But writing fiction was a whole new ballgame that I didn’t fully understand at the time.

I wrote a few stories that just fell flat, stories that were “boring,” and stories that made no sense. And although I thought I knew how to tell a story, my actual results were mediocre. And because of that, I was getting few book sales, which was holding me back from making the leap to full-time author… it was a vicious cycle.

I knew I’d need to figure out what was wrong with my stories to make my dream a reality.

Flash forward to 2016, with almost 20 published books, and I’m working in my dream job. My books are selling and producing revenue, I’m building my audience and growing my reach and impact, and I have a team of eight making everything move faster than I could do it myself.

How did I make it happen? Put simply, I learned how to tell great stories, using my Smarter Storytelling Framework!

I’m confident in saying the framework I’m about to teach you solved my problem and it can help you move your writing to the next level. I created this framework after years of research, trial and error, and now I’m passing my system on to you.

The Smarter Storytelling Framework

Let’s look at the big picture of The Smarter Storytelling Framework.

You already know that a story isn’t just a story, but a wide array of elements that add up to a whole. The most successful, compelling stories—the kinds that keep you up too late reading—actually have 5 layers that feed into each other as diagrammed below:

SSF Screenshot

Download your copy of the Smarter Storytelling Framework here >>>

As you can see, the framework comprises a variety of storytelling elements, and shows the relationships between the elements.

Each relationship is represented by arrows and goes both ways, and each one is numbered for convenience.

I’ve also created a set of worksheets that guides you on a deep dive through each layer and relationship. Although you can use the framework without the worksheets, the worksheets will really help.

Download them here for free:

Nail Your Story Worksheets »

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I’m all about taking action and getting results. So I encourage you as we go through each storytelling element in the next several sections to keep your story in mind.

My goal isn’t to tell you what the right decision is for your story, but to help you make consistent decisions all the way through based on where your story is at right now.

One of the awesome things about the Smarter Storytelling Framework is that you can start anywhere. Or you can start in three different places and fill in areas to connect the dots of your story!

But to keep things simple at the moment, we’re going to discuss things in order, starting at the top.

The Smarter Storytelling Framework – Your 5-Layer Map for Story Success!

Layer 1 – The Design Layer

A lot of the magic happens in Layer 1 – The Design Layer, because theme is a big part of what keeps a story in alignment. In the Design layer, it’s crucial to define the concept, premise, and theme of the story and explore the relationship between these elements.

If you look at any modern mega-hit story, its success is predicated on how closely it sticks to its primary or unified theme.

For example, Harry Potter is a classic story of good versus evil. This theme is explored across all 7 books, with a different premise and circumstances each time, but in the end it always comes down to Harry and Voldemort.

The center of The Smarter Storytelling Framework is without a doubt the theme—the theme can and should be carried through the entire story to create the deepest emotional impact with your reader.

Layer 2 – The Surface Layer

Found in Layer 2 – The Surface Layer is the stuff authors sell to the reader—the characters, plot, and more. This is the layer in which we explore genre and what it means for plot.

It’s important to be thinking about your chosen genre early on because it determines a lot of other storytelling elements, including the characters you include and their unique points of view.

As you can see from the framework, the Surface Layer links back to the Design Layer and forward to the Conflicts Layer – all of these storytelling elements interact with each other!

Layer 3 – The Conflicts Layer

The pulsing beat of every story lies in the conflicts you create. In Layer 3 – The Conflicts Layer, we delve into fatal flaws and external motivations for each of your groups and characters.

By creating false beliefs and goals that form character arcs, your story will have real heart, and readers won’t be able to put your book down.

It’s great to know about these concepts in theory, but remember that I am all about ACTION. That’s why I created the set of worksheets to accompany The Smarter Storytelling Framework, so you can use these concepts right NOW.

You can download a worksheet for Layer 3 right here to get started on creating conflicts that will take your writing up a notch or seven.

Layer 4 – The Representations

In Layer 4 – The Representations Layer, we’ll look at everything we’ve already discovered about your story and design a multitude of ways you can express it. We’ll explore literary devices such as symbols, metaphors, motifs, and more.

Have you ever read a book and thought, “How did the author DO that?!?” Chances are it’s because the author fully explored the representations layer.

So many authors stop at the first three layers, and maybe that’s where you’ve been unknowingly stopping, too!

But by putting all of these thematic elements in place, you’ll easily connect the first layer of your story all the way through to fifth layer, just like pulling threads through five swaths of material to weave a quilt.

If you check out my book Nail Your Story, I even show you how to work backwards from these concepts to fill in your 4-Part Structure with rich and rewarding events and literary devices. I give you lots of examples from successful books and movies. No more murky middle in your story, and your readers will walk away saying, “Wow.”

Layer 5 – The World Layer

In Layer 5 – The World Layer, you’ll create the world in which the characters live. Tapping into all the previous layers allows us to look into background, history, and more to create worlds that feel well-established, and even old!

This is the last layer, the base of the entire operation. Not all of what you create here will make it into your book. But having a complete understanding of the world you created will help to tie up any loose ends, and will strengthen your story overall.

(Pssst…don’t think you can ignore this layer just because you’re writing a contemporary story. Even contemporary stories need to build their worlds. There may not be wizards and vampires and kingdoms, but you’ll still need to know the backgrounds and histories of your characters, the setting, place and time.)

Putting It All Together

What really sets Nail Your Story and The Smarter Storytelling Framework apart from the hundreds of other resources on writing is my focus on the relationships between two storytelling concepts. If you follow the trail these relationships create, you’ll find that your story is in deep alignment.

So, for example, if you already have your protagonist figured out, I want you to be able to translate the information you already know about him to his fatal flaw, to the groups in your world, and to the larger theme of the book.

Then, you can translate each of these three pieces into more pieces, connecting through the framework along the arrows as you go.

Before you know it, you’ll have a strong sense of your story at every layer, because every decision you’ve made is in alignment with all the other decisions!

What does this mean for you?

It means your characters match their character arcs, which matches your theme, which matches your plot, which matches your world.

This creates an experience for the reader.

It’s like walking into an expensive department store—for example, Nordstrom. The lights match the layout which matches the product which matches the pricing, which matches the customer service. Shopping at Nordstrom is a very different experience than shopping at a big box retailer like Walmart, which is a different experience than shopping at a primarily online retailer like Amazon.

When your story is in deep alignment, it simply works. More importantly, it really works for its target audience, and you are one step closer to your dream of being a full-time author.

Are you ready to get started?

Step #1: Grab Your Free Nail Your Story Worksheets

Sign up here to receive EVERY worksheet created for The Smarter Storytelling Framework.

The Smarter Storytelling Framework resources bundle »

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Step #2: Read Nail Your Story

What makes a story feel connective, engaging, and complete?

If you’ve read dozens of storytelling craft books and still don’t have a strong answer to that question, you’ll love how Nail Your Story doesn’t give you another laundry list of items that your story is supposed to have.

Instead, Nail Your Story attempts to reveal the connections between the various parts of story so that you can more easily build cohesive plots, characters, themes, and settings—without having to stress over the decisions because (surprise!) you’ve probably already made them in another area of your book.

Included in the book:
Monica’s Smarter Storytelling Framework, which shows you the many layers of a story and how they each relate to each other
Translation guides for building out your story (for example, how you can use character to build your theme, and vice-versa)
The Smarter Storytelling Worksheets to help you plot out all the elements of your story into one cohesive document
Tons of examples from some of the most popular stories of our time, including Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, the Twilight series, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, How To Get Away With Murder, A Song of Ice and Fire, and more.

If you’ve struggled to get 5-star reviews on your stories or build an audience of people dying to get your next book, Nail Your Story will help you identify areas of improvement and even show you how a few small tweaks in your currently available content can make a massive difference in your sales!

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Step #3: Go Deep Into Story Structure

Sometimes the best way to take it to the next level is to actually dive in and apply the concepts to your own story. This can be kind of scary or confusing, especially if it’s your first book or if the whole writing craft thing is new to you.

But it’s the fastest way to learn how story structure works and ingrain it into your own writing process.

You can do this on your own using the resources I’ve given you above.

Or you can write your book from start to finish as I guide you through the four big steps of the writing process: mindset, draft, writing rhythm & habits, and editing.

I’m talking about the Let Your Book Flow Signature Program, and it’s not just for new writers. It’s for anyone who’s still struggling with writing and selling books. Learn more about it here. 

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This course can be a huge help if you’ve had lots of false starts in the past, have no idea where to start, or struggle with sticking to large projects.

One of the biggest lessons a writer must learn is to finish a book. Every book after that will only help you become an even better writer.

But it all starts with your first book.

Not talking about writing. Or doing endless research on how to write. But actually sitting down to write and learn your own writing process.

This is the most important step to becoming an actual author, and it can be you.

Join other writers who are on the same journey as you and make massive progress on your book.

What are you waiting for? Time to start writing better stories!

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