Bookmapping and Storybreaking: Developmental Tools for Editors, Kristen Stieffel, 2016




One audio recording from PENCON 2016

Bookmapping and Storybreaking: Developmental Tools for Editors
Kristen Stieffel


This session will describe two methods of story analysis, both of which can be valuable during developmental editing to discover plot holes, sagging middles, and other problems.

Storybreaking is a technique from the film industry that identifies each key plot point—every point that is essential to moving the story forward. In film this is done with storyboards. Sometimes index cards are used, but we’ll also look at software that can accomplish the task. Storybreaking can identify plot holes as well as scenes that are not moving the story forward.

Bookmapping identifies the major characters, plotlines, and themes of the book and charts them by chapter. This can be done on a sheet of paper, with Post-It Notes on a wall, or in an Excel spreadsheet. By mapping the whole book into an easily viewed format, we can identify a book’s weak points and begin to repair them.

These two techniques can be combined to strengthen plots in fiction or to make narrative nonfiction more cohesive. These are two valuable tools for the developmental editor’s kit.