Are Your Stories Engaging Enough?
What publishers and agents want is writing they can't set down. This goes for memoirs and character-driven literary stories as much as it goes for thrillers and sci-fi novels. If you want to avoid rejection letters that claim your piece was “not compelling enough,” or “just didn’t grab me,” you need to get the proverbial ball rolling and then keep it rolling. Same goes for if you're self-publishing. You want readers hooked.
This Story Momentum course examines various techniques to achieve maximum momentum in your writing. At the end of this course, you'll come away much more prepared to build your story scene by scene.
We will start with a basic framework, a foundational understanding of what story is. And then we'll use that understanding to learn how to craft the story units in order to keep readers reading. We look at ways to maintain tension throughout the story, even when your narration relays a lack of things happening. And we'll learn how to maintain momentum through proper pacing and by keeping your artistry inconspicuous. The course is filled with close examinations of both successful and unsuccessful storytelling. The videos are in small doses, and you're encouraged to ask questions for clarification or follow-up.
This course includes six sections:
What You Get
Who Is This Course For?
Anyone writing stories needs to understand how stories capture human attention and imagination. The first half of this course deals with those global story imperatives. You will benefit greatly from that first half if you are just starting out with your storytelling and don't yet have your mind wrapped around what a story must do or if you've been at it a while but you're unsure why your writing isn't hooking people.
The second half of the course applies an understanding of the global story needs to the more minute level of writing. It thus serves both beginner and experienced writer alike with its attention to the finer details of narration and keeping your storytelling inconspicuous.
This is not a course for hobbyists unwilling to put in the work. This is a class that will ask you to think like a writer and to put the concepts to practice.
TD Storm is an award-winning writer and teacher whose stories have appeared in a number of journals. His passion for storytelling and its inner workings inform his teaching, editing, and mentoring. He has worked with countless writers on personal essays, novels, short stories, and more. And he's been teaching since 1999. To see his numerous endorsements, check out tdstorm.com.
The Course in Depth:
Writers can sometimes be guilty of paying too much attention to crafting beautiful sentences. It's not that poetic lines aren't appealing, but story is way more important. This section of the course provides an introduction to the key elements necessary for every story and for every scene in your story. Here we present the long-view, the global imperatives of story. These ideas are geared more toward the conceptual stages of your storytelling; the nitty gritty of craft comes in ensuing sections.
Desire: the Driving Force of Story
Character desire is what the reader latches onto. It's akin to an essay's argument or core idea. Robert Olen Butler says that the “element . . . missing from virtually every student manuscript I’ve seen, has to do with the phenomenon of desire." This section will get you to see the importance of character desire or objective, and will help you start building scenes that engage the reader more profoundly.
Conflict & Tension: Hook Readers Every Scene, Every Page, Every Paragraph
Conflict creates tension, and tension is the principal source of reader engagement. We read to find out what will happen next. There’s little reason to question what will happen next in conditions lacking conflict. This section of the course will examine different kinds of tension and the importance of having conflict cohere with the story. We also look at the two ways of maintaining tension on every page.
With the fundamentals under your belt, you’ll be ready to start diving into scenes at a more advanced level. The first three sections of this course are a bit more suited to beginner and intermediate storytellers, but experienced writers aren’t immune from neglecting these fundamentals.
Action & Inaction: Add Momentum Even When Nothing Is Happening
Here’s where things get more advanced. We can think of your narration as conveying action or “inaction.” Inaction includes exposition, back story, flashback, interior monologue, description, aftermath, back flash, scene-setting—everything that isn’t present-time action. Roughly, action is filmable; inaction isn’t. In fact, inaction sets books apart from video/film formats, and is usually a big part of the reason people always prefer the book to the film. This section of the course breaks down inaction and gives you some practical advice for how to manage it. The problem with inaction is it can put the brakes on entirely, dragging your story to a halt. But it doesn’t have to. Inaction can serve the story and give it power.
Pacing & Speed: Control Pacing to Motivate Voracious Reading
This section of the course provides the famous Storm Bicycling Analogy--a paradigm for your thinking about pacing your story. Though pacing is a matter of how your piece is moving as a whole, pacing originates at the scene level. We diagnose six specific problems with pacing and their solutions so that you can turn to your own work with some practical ideas about how to change things in order to gain more momentum.
Setup & Payoff: Craft Authentic Character Progression through Invisible Setup and Believable Payoff
This section looks at one of the greatest challenges for the storyteller: the task of making the story seamless, its crafting inconspicuous. The capable author “earns” character transformations, surprises, and reveals. What does it take to earn them? Here, we examine the five pitfalls of setup/payoff arrangement and the way in which you can avoid them.