How I Build A Story… with John Rakestraw

I put myself in the hot seat and talk with my merry band of wonderful minds about how I build a story.

I did live theatre years ago…

I was a stage actor in the Seattle area during the 1980’s… I loved it! I did comedies, drama and musicals. I acted in over 100+ shows!

I study every book I could find on the subject of acting. All those books are really a great way to learn how to write a good story. Acting books are a great lesson in creativity. You have to understand your part, the character that you are playing, how they fit into the whole story (play) plot. Learning how to build a character, that a playwright made for you, was a great lesson for what has become my greatest starring role… as a published writer, a writing life coach and an internet talk show host, who talks to people about finding that magic we call… the craft of writing!

There is a huge amount of things that an actor needs to learn to truly be good at their craft and learning your line is the least of it, trust me!

Learning to write is the craft… bring it all to life is the magic!

To really be good at acting or writing… you have to make that role, that character, come to life. It has to have a whole life story before you can give it life in front of an audience. This is also true for writers. The audience is their readership. There is a process to creating this magic.

I will walk you through my 8 fundamentals on building a story.

First Element – Relationships and the magic if.
Second Element – What are they fighting for? What is the conflict?
Third Element – What was the moment(s) before we meet them?
Fourth Element – Humor, life is full of funny moments.
Fifth Element – The discoveries… when the characters and the story have a life of their own.
Sixth Element – Keeping Your Subtext in Context.
Seventh Element – Find the story’s events, the through lines and the arcs.
Eigthth Element – The mystery, the magic and the concentration devices that keep us involved.


John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.

Learn the Art and Science of Audio Books with Author Nathan Lowell

There was a lot of info put on the the table during this conversation about Audio Books. Nathan Lowell walked us through how he produces his audio files and even his marketing ideas.

Where you can find Nathan on the web…

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nathan.o.lowell?fref=ts
Podiobooks: http://podiobooks.com/contributor/nathan-lowell/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nlowell
Blog: http://nathanlowell.com/

I ask this talented and brilliant person to give us a list of the equipment and software that he uses, which by the way… made it possible for him to have over 5 million downloads of his audio books.
(We make no guarantees that your results will be the same.) B-])

Nathan writes…

Highly recommended: A digital recorder.. the Zoom H1 at $99 is an excellent value. It comes with very nice mics. Its limitation are on inputs. (I don’t know what they are.) More info http://goo.gl/uNqiUx

The next step up would be Zoom H2 at about $150. It will take a mini plug microphone but the built ins are also excellent.
More info http://goo.gl/nEbeu3

Top shelf is the Zoom H4N at about $275. I can’t recommend this highly enough. It’s a great “starter” and it has inputs for both mini plug and “pro grade” XLR. It also has all the power hookups you need to use some of the high end mics with it if you get to that point.
More info http://goo.gl/7lQtD1

Mics are optional if you get one of these Zooms. For reading books, unless you’re trying to set up a studio and you’re sure you want to do this, the H1 is my recommendation.

Right now I use
- Zoom H4
- Rode NT1-A shock mounted on a boom.
More info http://goo.gl/Hwm3ox

Software I use
- Audacity for editing and rendering.
More info http://audacity.sourceforge.net/

- Kid3 (a linux tool) for adding the ID3 tags, altho the iTunes application does an excellent job of it.
More info http://kid3.sourceforge.net/

Many great thanks to Nathan Lowell for his help and great conversation.


John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.

Let’s Talk Editing…

On Sunday, July 28, I was lucky enough to guest on John’s Google Hangout, Rakestraw Book Design Live Events. I had a lot of fun and we spent an hour talking about editing.

We talked about editing, who needs editing, the different types of editing, working with an editor, dialogue, and a lot more.


John and Toni Rakestraw are the owners of Rakestraw Book Design. Toni is the editor; she keeps all those words in line. John is the voice of the company. He can often be found hosting Google+ Hangouts on writing and issues writers face online. Archives for his shows can be found on YouTube.

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