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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
Without conflict, what are you left with? We examine the role of conflict and how it interacts with character and objective.
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.
Why are stakes necessary, what different kinds are there, and how can we create stakes?
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.
Where do we take this foundational understanding? My Momentum classes, based in these foundational elements, explore:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The questions to ask of an effective story:
Map it out for your story:
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."