Throw all of your story beats up on a wall in chronological order.
Look for beats that can drop away. That anecdote might be funny or emotional, but if it doesn't directly lead you to your next story beat, get rid of it.
Look for places where you can pepper in your explainers/findings. (Don't put all the explainers at the beginning and all the findings at the end! Snoozefest!)
And then decide, should this story start at the beginning? Or should it be an e?
This method works really well if you're plotting out an arc with multiple episodes.
Start by putting your story beats up on the wall, chronologically--trying to get a sense of the larger arc first. How does the story progress from the first episode to the last?
Then look to see places where the narrative can be broken up to insert some of the explainers, findings and other dense information.
And then look at how to break the whole thing up into the correct number of episodes.
Once you've figured out what belongs in each episode, then you can go back and structure each episode in a compelling way. Some episodes might work chronologically. Others might need an e. You'll be able to treat each episode as if it's a standalone story, because you've already figured out how the episodes fit together.
And I promise you, once it comes time to actually write your story, all of this work is going to pay off...big time. You'll have already done all of the difficult work by figuring out the shape of your puzzle and where all the pieces go. All you'll have to do is connect them.By the way, this installment was inspired by a reader who sent me a question. Do you have a question for me? If so, reply to this email, and I'll see what I can do!
P.S. - Yes, I totally finished that "brave" thing
I was working on a couple weeks ago. I can't share the details yet but let's just say...my life is about to get a little bit jiggly! (How's that for vaguebooking?)