Master the 5 Key Elements of Story
4.4 (88 ratings)
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Master the 5 Key Elements of Story

Understand what makes a story so you can make your story great.
4.4 (88 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
2,067 students enrolled
Created by TD Storm
Last updated 12/2016
Price: Free
  • 21 mins on-demand video
  • 11 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • You'll gain a better understand how the elements of story work and how to ramp them up in order engage the audience more profoundly.
  • At the end of this course, you’ll come away with some very focused questions to ask of your own work, and you’ll be better equipped to see exactly where and how your stories are weak and can be improved.
View Curriculum
  • You'll get more from the class if you have a draft of a story you can work with, but none is required.

Writers of story-driven fiction or memoir often pay too much attention to crafting beautiful sentences. It's not that poetic lines aren't appealing, but story is way more important. Can you think of any very successful novels that were horribly "written"? Their success came from their storytelling.

This short course provides an introduction to the key elements necessary for every story and for every scene in your story. If you want to craft stories that have momentum, that readers cannot set down, you need to understand what a story really is. Ensuing courses in my Momentum series go into much more depth, but this course is the foundation.

Who is the target audience?
  • Both beginning and seasoned storytellers can benefit from a deeper understanding of story.
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Curriculum For This Course
What Makes a Story?
2 Lectures 04:42

An introduction to what this course covers, why it's important, and whether it's right for you. Get to know your instructor and his approach, and then, in preparation for the next lecture, be sure to watch the hurdles race in the additional resources: one is a low-resolution file (hurdles-small-file); the other is a higher res (hurdlesrace). Both show the same race, so no need to download both. 


And the five key components of story are . . . 

The 5 Elements of Story
The Five Elements Explained
5 Lectures 11:06

What role does character play in creating reader engagement in a story and what are some of the imperatives of your character? Before moving on to the next video, be sure to watch the attached excerpt taken from the intro to the film Amelie. Again, I've included two resolutions. Don't watch both. 

The Elements Explained: Character

Here, we examine what objective or desire is, how it differs from a character's likes or dislikes, and what role it plays in the reader's engagement.

The Elements Explained: Objective

Without conflict, what are you left with? We examine the role of conflict and how it interacts with character and objective. 

The Elements Explained: Conflict

For such a simple element, this concept is surprisingly complex (and neglected by too many writers). Here we explain what the right kind of action is. 

The Elements Explained: Action

Why are stakes necessary, what different kinds are there, and how can we create stakes?

The Elements Explained: Stakes
Ramp Up Your Elements
2 Lectures 04:48

If all stories have the minimal elements, why aren't all stories equally engaging (putting aside personal taste)? Here, we examine how to ramp up each element. The workbook available after the next lecture includes some valuable resources to come out of this lecture. 

Ramping Up the Elements

Where do we take this foundational understanding? My Momentum classes, based in these foundational elements, explore:

  • Desire, the Driving Force of Story: Use Character Objective to Build Scenes
  • Conflict, Tension, and Continuous Hooking: Build Momentum Scene by Scene, Page by Page, Paragraph by Paragraph
  • Action and Non-action: Use Non-action to Add Momentum Rather Than Stall Your Story
  • Pacing and Speed: Control Pace to Maximize the Reader’s Speed
  • Setup and Payoff: Shape the Pieces of the Story Puzzle To Create a Seamless Whole

I give you some key questions to ask of successful stories and some questions to ask of your own story or story excerpts. Download the workbook and get started on examining your own story. You do not need a completed story to get started. A scene will do. And the five elements apply to any kind of storytelling--fiction, nonfiction; long-form, short-form. Email me with any questions:

The questions to ask of an effective story:

  1. Is there a character you care about, and if so, why do you care about him?
  2. What’s the character’s goal and what does he stand to lose?
  3. What’s the big conflict, and what small conflicts does the character face?

Map it out for your story:

  • Who’s your protagonist? Why would the reader care about your protagonist?
  • What’s his/her objective for the whole story? What’s the objective for the chapter or excerpt you’re examining closely?
  • What hurdles does your protagonist face in this chapter or scene? What’s the overarching conflict for the entire story?
  • What are the consequences of failure? Or if you prefer, what kind of death is the character facing?
Wrap-Up and Homework
About the Instructor
TD Storm
4.4 Average rating
88 Reviews
2,067 Students
1 Course
Story Expert, Writer

TD Storm is an award-winning writer and teacher whose work has appeared in a number of journals. His passion for storytelling and its inner workings inform his teaching, editing, and mentoring. He has been teaching for the past 16 years, and he's a celebrated editor. As Josh Cook, book critic for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, writes, "Nothing gets past TD Storm. Working with editors over the years, sometimes you want to test your crafting abilities and let a crazy sentence fly—abstraction, too much telling, piling on unnecessary details—and you can, for the most part, get away with it. Not with TD. This guy's got a heck of a head on him. He sniffs out everything. Astute, rigorous, and generous; and it's all in service of improving the piece and strengthening your voice."