Storyteller Tools: Outline from vision to finished novel without losing the magic

I could have called this book No More Unfinished Novels — here’s why not

Teaching Creative Outlining

Me teaching my storyteller tools

A link-bait title would have been nice, but misleading. This is not one of those bootcamp books about pushing through writers block — once you know how to complete a novel, motivation isn’t an issue! Nor is this a literary cookbook to teach you how to bake a perfect Hero’s Journey — I know you have your own stories to tell.

Disaster Story

Example of a Conflict Diagram

It’s called Storyteller Tools because that’s what it gives you — a handful of outlining tools to help you go from vision to your finished novel without losing the magic of the original idea.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this is a one-off, one-shot, standalone self-contained book! There’s no need to buy your way through a series or to make a lifestyle out of attending seminars and retreats or lurking on writing forums.

It’s all in this one book and it’s one hell of a lot cheaper and shorter than an MFA.


In 2013, I wrote and sold three novels and started 2014 by doing the same with a fourth

I earn my living writing books like this!

By wrote I mean written from scratch, as from signing the contract to handing in the final draftThat’s how I make my living as a writer of franchise fiction. This isn’t hackwork (though I admit that there’s lots of hacking in my stories).  Editors demand proper novels with characterisation, themes, pacing and plot.  They also demand speed and reliability. That’s why I developed my storyteller tools.



You don’t want to write like me, but you do want my storytelling tools

We all have different stories to tell. I write stuff with sword fights and battles. Perhaps you’re more interested in Life’s Big Questions, lyrical landscapes, hi-tech futures, romantic dilemmas or Kirk and Spock’s erotic escapades? It doesn’t matter. We all of us face the same challenge.


I don’t write stories like this, but perhaps you do…

The thing is, it’s easy enough to spin a yarn over coffee or a beer — What if…? Did you know that…? Suppose…? Once upon a time… — but very hard indeed to weave it into a finished novel. That’s what my storyteller tools are for.

They don’t tell you what to write — how could they? — but they do enable you to interrogate your vision and then work with the answers.

It really doesn’t matter what your original vision was as long as it fired you up.


You can start with a story no matter how vague

Sometimes you just have the rough story.

Do you have the broad sweep of the story  — perhaps you’re writing about a real character with a known history — but you need to make it carry a 100,000 word novel?

My storyteller tools will help you discover what your story’s about and then fill in the blanks.

Are you drawn to broad themes ? What is best in life…?  No problem. My storyteller tools can help with that too.


You can start with a just a story world

Are you writing Historical Fiction like me, or maybe trying to breathe life into a lovingly crafted future or a fantasy world? Use my storyteller tools to identify the forces at work in your world, embody them in characters and then get on with the writing.

Is your vision intense but patchy? You can see — say — the winged ninjas and the endless crumbling cities, but not much beyond that. Fine! My storyteller tools will help you build outward organically, discovering the story world then bringing it to life.


You can start with characters

Do you already know the story people and just need to find their story? Perhaps you’re writing fan fiction or maybe the characters always come to you first.

Use my storyteller tools to home in on the interesting conflicts — your own instincts will tell you what’s interesting once you can see it — and then nudge the characters into action.


My approach has major advantages

  • It works in any direction. Start with characters. Start with a plot idea. Start with some free writing. Start with a hangover or a coffee buzz. Doesn’t matter! There’s a tool for you.
  • It’s fun. Spawn then reject, then respawn possible novels with dizzying speed!
  • It’s economical. Each change of direction, each new attempt, involves scrubbing a handful of words, not chapters!
  • It’s fast. You need to be fast if you’re a professional or want to become one!
  • It’s satisfying. Finish a work and move onto the next in months not years!


This is a handbook

No formulas, not much literary theory, no padding with little folksy tales of my life, and no attempt to inspire and enthuse you.

I’m not even going to try to sell you on my approach; try it and make up your own mind!

If the result seems a little short, consider that this book is a hell of a lot cheaper than all those tempting writer’s retreats and conferences.

Click here to buy “Storyteller Tools” and finish your novel in months not years!  (UK)(USA)

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7 comments on “Storyteller Tools: Outline from vision to finished novel without losing the magic
  1. Louis Wilberger says:

    I love the book. As a pantser, I like to start the character out and let him run. I find that with this method, when I get stalled, I start lining up bones or getting into a QABN,do an outline, and I’m on my way. I’m going to have to read through the conflict chart again. Any hints on simplifying the process. If not, no prob. Great tool chest.

    • mharoldpage says:

      Thanks! I’m still at the stage when it’s a thrill to hear my book is useful to strangers. (If you have the time, I would take it as a personal favour if you would post a review on Amazon.)

      Regarding your question.

      This is a toolset, not a process, so if you are writing fine armed only with QABNs, then that’s OK. Keep going to the end (and let me know how it turns out.)

      However, if you feel conflict diagrams might be useful, then the correct approach depends on how your brain works, and what you already know about your specific story.

      Since you already have a story underway, it follows that you have characters who are already bumping up against each other.

      So. I might start by putting the characters on the diagram and working out who is in conflict with who over what.

      Remember the Bone of Contention can be anything, including a relationship, a character’s fate, a poem, the framing of an experience… Try to avoid making an active character a BoC. So, for example, if two guys are fighting over a girl, who is locked in a war with space ninjas, make the Girl’s Affections a BoC, and make her one of the players struggling for it. (Makes you consider; What does she want out of love?)

      Once you have that look at see if any player is a personified force, e.g. The System, History, Fate etc. Could those forces manifest in other ways? Could that force put the player into any additional conflicts?

      I hope that helps! Thanks again for your kind words

  2. Sarah says:

    I have purchased your book and read it man times however, I don’t understand your outlines. Perhaps it’s because I don’t know the story you are creating and therefore can’t apply the outline to anything.

    Please do a sample outline of a story that is familiar. Maybe ‘The Three Bears”? Then I could actually use the story to help me understand the outline. This may sound silly but it would help greatly.

    • mharoldpage says:

      Great idea. Thanks for suggesting it!

    • mharoldpage says:

      As requested, I have posted a short blog entry with an outline of the “Three Bears”. (Though I missed out the chairs episode!)

      Different kinds of people need different explanations – all to do with learning styles. If you want to chat via IM drop me a line and I’ll try to find an explanation that works for you. I can then add this to my next edition. 🙂

  3. Joy Livingwell says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful book! Your suite of writing tools are just what I need for NaNoWriMo. They addressed my biggest writing weaknesses, and got me unstuck.

    I especially liked doing the exercises from the book. They made the concepts much clearer and gave me a ton of ideas, plus they were great fun.

    I own a bunch of fiction-writing how-to books. Storyteller Tools is now my all-time favorite because it is hands-down the most helpful for actual writing! *Practical* help, with practice exercises, rather than theory. Thank you!!!

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