Skip to Main Content

How to Build a Story . . . Or, the Big What If

Illustrated by Stacy Ebert

From bestselling author Frances O’Roark Dowell comes a fresh and accessible guide to storytelling that breaks down the sometimes-daunting writing process into straightforward, doable steps, just right for budding writers!

If you’ve written anything, ever, you’re already a writer—so, congratulations! As many aspiring authors know, though, telling an actual, complete story is, well, a different story.

As unfinished drafts pile up and writers’ block strikes, it may start to feel like there’s a special formula to finishing a project that you’re just not getting. But crafting a story isn’t magic, if you have a little know-how! And here it is—know-how! In her witty, clever way, critically acclaimed author Frances O’Roark Dowell explains the storytelling process with simple, easy-to-understand steps. Follow along as she shares sample stories and identifies building blocks and obstacles to conquer—all hilariously illustrated, in a way that’ll have you typing all the way to the end of your own story.

In addition to writing many books including Shooting the Moon and Dovey Coe, Frances O’Roark Dowell has over a decade’s experience teaching writing workshops for kids. Ready, set, write!

Photograph (c) Clifton Dowell

Frances O’Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I’d Like to BeThe Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far AwayChicken BoyShooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Award; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling InThe Second Life of Abigail Walker, which received three starred reviews; Anybody Shining; Ten Miles Past NormalTrouble the Water; the Sam the Man series; The Class; and most recently, How to Build a Story. She lives with her family in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at FrancesDowell.com.

Stacy Ebert is an illustrator and writer for children. She’s been creating art since she was young and has worked as a graphic designer. She wrote for her college newspaper and Her Voice magazine and penned a memoir before turning to picture book stories. If not illustrating, writing, telling, or reading a story—you might find her pressing dough, painting, teaching, or chalk labeling anything and everything. She creates on the prairie with her husband, three sons, one painted piano, and three coral peonies. Visit her online at StacyEbert.com.

More books from this author: Frances O'Roark Dowell