Category Archives: Self Help

Welcome Nancy Ellen Dodd

Join me in welcoming Nancy Ellen Dodd to Highlighted Author.

Nancy Ellen Dodd is a writer with many voices, a university instructor, and an editor. She received her master’s in Professional Writing (MPW, which is a multi-discipline approach to writing) from the University of Southern California with a concentration in dramatic writing/screenwriting and her MFA in playwriting at USC’s School of Theatre. Having studied writing for more than 25 years, she currently teaches screenwriting at Pepperdine University to undergraduate and graduate students.

Nancy has received numerous awards for her writing, which includes screenplays, plays, short stories, short films, and novel-length works, as well as inspirational writing. Some of her short stories have been read on public radio. She also studied writing with several successful, award-winning writers: Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Paul Zindel; playwrights Velina Hasu-Houston, Oliver Mayer, David Milton, and Lee Wochner; screen and television writer Sy Gomberg; and international poet James Ragan.

Currently on faculty at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, Nancy serves as academic editor of the Graziadio Business Review, an online peer-reviewed business practitioner’s journal with over 500.000 page visits per year, 35% of those international. She also produces and edits video and audio interviews for the journal. Nancy’s journalistic career includes publishing more than 130 articles in local and national publications including interviews with celebrities and business leaders.

Her book, The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, will be released in June, 2011, by Writer’s Digest Books.  It covers the full creative writing process from which she draws lessons for her classes. The Writer’s Compass teaches the writer how to develop and focus their ideas, the use of a story map, and building the story through 7 productive development stages. 

Tell us about The Writer’s Compass, Nancy, and what we as writers might learn to help us put together a successful book.

In my university class I only have time to teach story mapping and 3 of the 7 stages, this book gives me the chance to expand my college course. It is the heart of the thousands of hours I spent listening to lectures and audio, attending seminars and workshops, reading books, and acquiring two graduate degrees to learn the craft of writing.

How does a writer tell the story he or she wants to tell and capture an audience’s heart?  Regardless of genre or format, to tell a story effectively writers must first sort through all the ideas they’ve been toying with–organize them, whip them into shape, and turn them into great writing.  The Writer’s Compass shows the writer how to do that.  Through the 7 stages the writer learns to focus on one aspect of the story at a time for more efficient story development.  The book also addresses navigating the creative world by developing a writing time, space, and mind-set and addresses the importance of setting goals, quality writing, and how to map the writer’s lifestyle.

The Writer’s Compass teaches writers to visualize their story by creating a story map based on the 3-act structure chart.  The map helps writers to see the essential elements of storytelling, what they know about their story, and, perhaps most importantly, what’s missing.  This book simplifies Aristotle’s elements of good writing into easily applied comcepts.  Writers are shown how to form stories and develop ideas, build strong structures, create vibrant characters, and craft scenes and transitions.  Thought-provoking questions and exercises help writers more objectively assess their story’s strengths and weaknesses by thinking through what they are writing, why they are writing it, and what they want to say, setting the compass for the story the writer wants to tell–in 7 stages.

Thank you so much, Nancy, for being with us today on Highlighted Author.

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