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The 7 Stage Process

7 Stage ProcessDeveloping the 7 Stages


The 7-Stage process systematically develops a story one level at a time, every stage building on the last. Each stage focuses on an area of development that works through key obstacles to create a strong story. Charting the essential elements of storytelling with your ideas across a story map lays the foundation for your story. Progressing systematically through each stage helps you develop your story with the least number of revisions. The 7 Stages are:

  • Stage 1—Forming Stories and Developing Ideas
  • Stage 2—Building Strong Structures
  • Stage 3—Creating Vibrant Characters
  • Stage 4—Structuring Scenes, Sequences, and Transitions
  • Stage 5—Increasing Tension and Adjusting Pacing
  • Stage 6—Enriching the Language and Dialogue
  • Stage 7—Editing the Hard Copy and Submitting


Stage 1 discusses how ideas are formed and the act of brainstorming. The evolution of writing stories takes many forms and starts at many different points. This stage shows the writer how to use that evolution to an advantage in forming ideas. This process also allows for the different ways writers write.

Stages 2 through 6 focus on the process of story development but also continue to expand ideas. Each of these stages addresses a specific area of development in a system that builds rather than crisscrosses efforts. In other words, when relying on “just reading through” to reveal story weaknesses, the writing process is inefficient and there is a crossover of efforts with multiple passes of the same material. When a story is developed strategically using the 7-Stage process, the writing is stronger and does not have to be revised as many times.

For example, Stage 6 is “Enriching the Language and Dialogue.” If this task occurs before the structure is in place or the characters are developed, the writer may need to rewrite, but is hesitant because the language has already been developed to the writer’s satisfaction, which makes it harder to cut scenes or dialogue that no longer work. By waiting until a later development stage to work on the language, the story is already richer, more developed and closer to completion. Time spent on language at this later stage is far more efficient. Think of a potter focusing on the intricate design around the outside of a pot before shaping the pot. The efforts put into the artwork now become distorted or are ruined. By waiting for the shape of the pot to be formed, the efforts put into the design are now part of finalizing the creation.

Stage 7 is the final stage of editing and submitting.

The 7 Stage process leads to developing the writer’s internal compass and a more fully developed story at a higher level of writing.

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