Stephanie Bourbon Reminds Us – Story First!

One of our fave TV writers-illustrators-screenwriters-vloggers, Stephanie Bourbon, explains why great storytelling should be your focus from the time you sit down to write to…you know, that time when somebody yanks you out of your chair and forces you to stop.

by Stephanie Bourbon

Have you ever picked up a book that has been on the bestseller list for months and months and the author is all over the publishing news because all the movie deals coming in and how rich they are—and then the writing is bad, like really bad, and you think—WTF???

Yup–been there, done that.

Have you ever gone to the movies and so many things are wrong and yet the film is bringing in millions and millions and you cringe at the story mistakes?

Yup–been there, done that.

This has been my philosophy for as long as I can remember.

There is nothing wrong with being great with words or wordsmithing. I admit, it’s not my thing, but if you allow it to get in the way of the story, that is where you will have problems.

The reason is that people come to you for the story not the words.

The words should come LAST.

The sequence of writing a novel should go something like this.





NEW FULL DRAFT– I do this from memory with a blank page.

REVISIONS on story, character, at the chapter level.


Then workshop it.

Then critique group.

Then if you are really sure this is the best version of your story you get to line edit. (usually about the 8th or 9th revision)

Sounds like a lot of work right?

Yup, it is.

Writing novels is hard.

Think of it this way, if you were to make a wedding cake, you finish with the tiny details you start with the eggs, flour, sugar, etc.

It’s the same with your story.

Now, for the screen and TV writers out there, this is the same for you.

if you waste your time writing clever dialogue, scenes, and jokes but the story isn’t working, your movie or your episode will most likely suck.

Why? Because story always needs to be first. Great sentences and super clever jokes won’t and can’t carry a story….

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