How to Drive that Narrative Forward: Blueprint for a Book Step 7

How to Drive that Narrative Forward: Blueprint for a Book Step 7

Episode 328

People don’t behave logically, but they are illogical in logical ways.

What makes you want to turn the page? You know how it is with some books—you just can’t put them down. Fiction, sure, thrillers, mysteries, but that’s not all. Non-fiction books can be page-turners too, even when they don’t seen to have a story. What makes The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up work even for people who never actually tidy up? The page-turning, reader-driving illusion that somehow they will. The Five Love Languages? The drive to figure out—which one am I, and which one are you?

Narrative drive is a key element of success in everything from romance (sure, you know the ending, but how are they going to get together?) to memoir to, yes, successful how-to. Your reader should be constantly asking, and then what happened, which means you should be, too. And everything has to contribute to that drive, whether it’s a plot development or an emotional twist. That’s how you pull the reader through each and every chapter.

This is the seventh episode in the 10-part Blueprint for a Book Series. Start with Step 1, do the work (we’ll give you an assignment every week), and in 10 weeks, you’ll have a solid foundation for a first draft or revision of your project that will help you push through to “the end”. Find details on the challenge HERE.


Fiction and Narrative Memoir:

Create a “Because of That” story summary. The Pixar rubric is in your workbook.

Nonfiction and Self-Help/Memoir:

Draft a table of contents. If you already did that in the last step, refine it. Tables of contents can hold the code for your entire book, so don’t just toss it off! 

Write two or three sentences to describe each chapter.

(Note: We suggest you download a Blueprint answer workbook to keep track of your 10 assignments. That will make it easier to revise, review and come back to your work. Click to grab yours for fiction or nonfiction. If you are writing narrative memoir (a story), use the fiction workbook and assignments. If you are writing self-help/memoir, use the nonfiction workbook and assignments. Prefer paper? Tape the assignment into your journal and make a nice big heading so you know: This is Step 7. This is the page (or pages) with my Because of That Story Summary.)


The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, Dan Gemeinhart

The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman

The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris

Blueprint for a Book (Fiction and Memoir)

Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book


Sara Gentry is a Math Ph.D. turned writer, book lover, and book coach. As an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach, Sara has been trained to help writers craft the story they’ve been wanting to tell. Thanks to her mathematical background, her book coaching strengths include planning project management, analyzing a story’s cohesiveness, and evaluating where a book might fit in the current marketplace. She works with writers across genres and age groups. She has a soft spot for KidLit and humorous adult fiction. Find more at easierwithacoach.com.

For more from KJ, subscribe to her newsletter: Read. Eat. Listen. Or grab one of her novels, In Her Boots and The Chicken Sisters, wherever books are sold. Wondering about KJ as a book coach? Her current offerings are HERE

For more from Jennie, subscribe to her weekly newsletter. Or grab one of her Blueprint books, wherever books are sold. You can learn about getting matched with an Author Accelerator book coach or becoming a book coach at authoraccelerator.com

This summer is all about starting a project, but if you already have a novel or memoir manuscript and you’re ready to go ALL IN, you’re going to want to do Author Accelerator’s Manuscript Incubator. Registration is open for the intensive, 7-month coaching opportunity that offers one-on-one support and guidance for novelists and memoirists planning to have a submission-ready project by early 2023—and includes the opportunity to have that project reviewed by a group of agents and editors when it’s ready. For more information, head to authoraccelerator.com/manuscript-incubator.

Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.