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Using a Story Map to Find the Holes in Your Story

  • 23 May 2015
  • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • El Segundo Library 111 W. Mariposa Ave, El Segundo CA 90245


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Using a Story Map to Find the Holes in Your Story


Nancy Ellen Dodd

How do you know when your story misses an important storytelling element? How do you find the holes? How do you create new ideas based on filling in those holes?

This workshop will teach using a story map as a visual tool and how to use the key elements of good storytelling. You will learn not only what you know about your story, but more importantly, what you don’t know, and what key elements are missing. You will also learn how to determine whether you are telling your story in the most dynamic order of events. You can use this story tool whether you are starting the development of a new story or already have a well-developed story.

In this interactive class, Author Nancy Ellen Dodd discusses the elements that go into building a strong story and her unique system for building rock-solid story structure.  If you’re able to start a story well, but have trouble getting to the end, or want to avoid a sagging mid-section, this is the workshop for you. Using a story map is one of the many tools Dodd will provide to help you stay on track writing a winning story that’s compelling through and through.

  • ·       The key elements that every story needs
  • ·       How to create your own story map
  • ·       How to develop new ideas
  • ·       How to develop the middle of your story
  • ·       How to determine a dynamic order for your story

Using handouts with a structure chart and blank story map, we will go through the components of creating a story map and provide a practical application to apply to your story. This is an interactive workshop and includes a group writing exercise. This workshop is based on the book: The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages.


Nancy Ellen Dodd, MPW, MFA, teaches Advanced Screenwriting to undergraduate and graduate students at Pepperdine University. She also develops and teaches online courses in screenwriting and creative writing for Writers Digest University and Screenwriters University (sister organizations under Writers Digest/F&W Publications). She also teaches a number of workshops as well as private classes at universities, conferences, writers’ groups, and internationally.

Dodd is that rare breed of writer, editor, and educator who has studied all forms of writing and has business, academic, and creative writing publications in her portfolio. Her book, The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages (published by Writers Digest Books, June 2011), is based on more than three decades of learning storytelling. The book teaches the creative writing process and the Aristotle/Freytag architecture of story. She earned two graduate degrees in writing from the University of Southern California: an MPW in Professional Writing, which covers all writing disciplines, with a focus in screenwriting; and an MFA in playwriting from the School of Theatre.

She has published short stories that also have been read on the radio, had her one-act play and short videos produced, produced audio and video interviews for online, and received several awards for writing. Dodd is currently on faculty at the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University where she serves as academic editor of the online peer-reviewed journal the Graziadio Business Review (GBR). She has served as editor of two print and two online journals and published more than 130 articles. Her website is

Date: May 23, 2015, Saturday

Time: 1 - 4 PM

Venue: El Segundo Public Library

Fee: $45

*$10 Discount for CBW-LA Members.

*Non-members pay the full amount.

*Fee includes workshop materials, handouts, worksheet and a copy of the authors’ book THE WRITER'S COMPASS



Map out your idea and finish your story in 7 stages!

This book will show writers how to develop their ideas into a finished novel by working through it in 7 stages, while learning how to mapping out their story's progress and structure so they can evaluate and improve their work. It teaches writers to visualize their story's progress with a story map that helps them see all the different components of their story, where these components are going, and, perhaps most importantly, what's missing.

The book simplifies Aristotle's elements of good writing (a.k.a. that each story should have a beginning, a middle and an end) into easily applicable concepts that will help writers improve their craft. The author helps readers strengthen their work by teaching them how to focus on one aspect of their story at a time, including forming stories and developing ideas, building strong structures, creating vibrant characters, and structuring scenes and transitions. Thought-provoking questions help writers more objectively assess their story's strengths and weaknesses so they may write the story they want to tell.


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