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The Writer's Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages Paperback – June 29, 2011


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The Writer's Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages + Story Engineering + The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (June 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599631970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599631974
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #438,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

The Writer's Compass is my way of sharing what I've learned with other writers and to encourage them. It is a comprehensive book filled with exercises and questions to assist writers at all levels. There are three ways to approach The Writer's Compass:

·  Reading through the book will give writers new information and new writing techniques.
·  Doing some of the exercises and answering some of the questions will teach writers new skills.
·  Answering all of the questions and doing all the exercises will develop the writer's skills to a new level.

From the Back Cover

How do you tell the story you want to tell and capture your audience's heart? Regardless of genre or format, to tell your story effectively you must first sort through all the ideas you've been toying with--organize them, whip them into shape, and turn them into great writing. Whether you're writing a novel, a short story, a play, or a screenplay, the 7 stage approach of The Writer's Compass allows you to focus on one apect of your story at a time--including forming and developing ideas, building strong structures, creating vibrant characters, and structuring scenes and transitions. The path of a writer isn't always easy. Let The Writer's Compass be your north star by simplifying a wealth of writing advice into easily applicable concepts that will help you improve your craft.

More About the Author

Nancy Ellen Dodd is a writer with many voices, a university instructor, and an editor. She received her master's in Professional Writing (MPW, which is a multi-discipline approach to writing) from the University of Southern California with a concentration in dramatic writing/screenwriting and her MFA in playwriting at USC's School of Theatre. Having studied writing for more than 25 years, Dodd currently teaches screenwriting at Pepperdine University for undergraduate and graduate students. Dodd has received numerous awards for her writing and studied with several successful, award-winning writers. Currently on faculty at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, Dodd serves as academic editor of the "Graziadio Business Review."

Check out her website at http://thewriterscompass.com and her blog at http://nancyellendodd.com

Customer Reviews

I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has aspirations to write fiction.
Melinda Santa Cruz
THE FOCUS ON THE THREE-ACT structure makes "The Writer's Compass" equally applicable to short story, novel, screenplay, and stage-play writing.
C. J. Singh
I have really used this book as a tool to improve my own fiction writing stage by stage.
James' Opinion

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey L. Armbruster on June 7, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writer's Compass presents a methodology for constructing the 1st draft of your story -- as a map -- allowing you to view and know your story on a single page. The methodology enhances the standard 3 part structure and 5 plot points with additional elements, building your draft in 7 stages. Being able to view your entire story, including stories B and C on a single piece of paper (I recommend a large sketch pad) is a powerful advantange. You can not see your story if it is burried in pages and pages of an outline, or pages and pages of a rough draft. You will tend to wander off into the weeds and bore the hell out of your audience. The Writer's Compass is also a great tool for a collaboration team of writers. The team can split up scenes, plot points, sub-plots, and know where it is all headed, know how and where to connect the dots by following the map.

Book negatives. I think the author tries to do too much in one book: she tries to cover all aspects of writing a novel\screenplay in short chapters where complete books have already been written that cover these topics. If you're new to story writing, then these chapters may be useful to you. Otherwise ...

Here is a glimpse of what's inside the book:

Contents:

Part 1 - Building a Writing Life
Part 2 - The Story Map and the 7 Stage Process
Creating Your Story Map
Developing Ideas
Building a Strong Structure
Creating Characters
Dialog
Structuring Scenes
Increasing Tension

Again, some of these chapters are covered much more completely elsewhere by entire books. But if you're new ...

For the new writer and for the experienced writer, and writing teams, collaborators, the chapters on building a story map will be a gold mine.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Singh on July 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
.
Reviewed by C. J. Singh (Berkeley, CA)
.

THE FOCUS ON THE THREE-ACT structure makes "The Writer's Compass" equally applicable to short story, novel, screenplay, and stage-play writing.

Basically, there are two very different approaches to generating the preliminary draft of a novel: Bottom Up and Top Down. The bottom-up approach calls for beginning with characters in a scene fragment; developing the fragment into a full scene; and then growing the scene into a sequence of scenes. The top-down approach begins with a one-sentence statement of what the novel is about; expanding the sentence to a paragraph that describes the major events and the end; sketching each of the major characters; listing the scenes; and synopsizing in a 1000-word or longer essay.

"The Writer's Compass" combines the best elements of the two approaches to present, stage-by-stage, the process of organically creating a map for your story. "As you come to know the characters, the plot, the obstacles, and the background, what you are really trying to say will emerge and develop.... Then when someone offers you feedback, you will know whether it will improve your story or lead you away from the story you want to write" (page 25).

It's impressive how effectively Nancy Dodd packs so much excellent instruction in just 216 pages. In the introduction, she sets up the book like "a three-act structure with Acts I, II, and III, represented as Beginning, Middle, and End" (p 1). The bibliography includes Syd Field, who pioneered screenwriting-craft books based on the three-act concept and plot points in his book, SCREENPLAY. Later, he added the concept of pinch points Refreshingly, Dodd is far more flexible on the location of the plot points than Field.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. Mitana on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little book with wonderful graphic layout delivers exactly what it promises (somewhat rare these days). It leads you from a story map to as far as to your finished story draft. For a strictly non-outlining writer: the story map is extremely useful tool (no exaggeration here). Definitely recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James' Opinion on April 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Masterful. I have really used this book as a tool to improve my own fiction writing stage by stage. I have stacks of books on writing, but most are highly theoretical and I never found the tools I needed in any of them. Dodd's book is different. This is a real "how to" by someone who really understands the theory, craft, and art of writing. I think any aspiring writer or anyone with a story trapped inside should buy this book and keep it at hand.

Finally a book on how to write that actually teaches people how to write!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Judy M. Iwen on September 5, 2011
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Perfect book for getting to the heart of what is necessary in writing a novel. A must for anyone who is serious about writing and serious about getting published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GlacierBabe on April 20, 2014
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This is hands down the best instructional writing book I have read. It resonates with me as no other self help writing book has. It's like taking a class. The topics are very well organized and the book itself is well structured. Directions for creating a story map are clear and concise. It details the different writing styles, and how to apply the lessons to what ever your personal writing style may be. It gives in depth understanding of what it means be a "writer". This is one book that will genuinely take you from story idea to a finished draft. Each of the seven stages is clearly delineated. I have read this book from beginning to end. I started at the beginning and made a concerted effort not to skip around. I'm glad I didn't. For me, the book follows a clearly marked, distinct path, which has lead to a positive writing experience.
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