Are Your Stories Engaging Enough?
Writing a story entails a lot of challenges. There is an enormous to-do list for the publishing end of things--submissions, cover letters, queries, agents, editors, book art, promotion, etc. And there's a lot you need to get right in drafting a story: grammar and usage, story structure, evocative phrasing, etc.
But none of that is as important as writing a great story. Whether you've never been published or whether you've been published before, your number one priority needs to be creating an engaging story.
It doesn't matter what genre you're writing: a memoir, a thriller, a character-driven literary story, an epic fantasy. In all cases, you want agents, publishers, and readers unable to set your story down. And so the first skill you need to work on mastering is creating page-by-page story momentum.
You don't want rejection letters claiming your piece was “not compelling enough,” or “just didn’t grab me.”
This 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 create scene-by-scene momentum.
What You Get
"In Story Momentum, TD Storm has assembled key elements of effective story creation, and he presents them in concrete, lucid terms. Refining a story into its best self requires a different skill set from what’s needed to unearth a story and affix it to a page. The material Tim offers in this course is dense, and to benefit, the writer must actively engage. But dedicated effort here pays off. Tim is not only capable of shedding enlightenment onto a writer’s draft, illuminating what’s working, pinpointing what isn’t, and prescribing solutions. He teaches one to see.
"Tim’s interest in interacting with his participants situates Story Momentum miles above other writing craft resources. His video lectures are engaging, efficient, and spot-on satisfying in addressing burning issues the writer is facing. He means it when he says he’ll listen to your questions, and he truly is just an email away.
"His mastery of story craft allows him to place a name to that which the writer, too close to the work, can’t easily describe. The outcome of Story Momentum is not just a polished creative piece, but a polished creator."
- Tricia Wagner
Who Is This Course For?
This is an adaptation of a course I taught at a week-long writing retreat. I take 15 hours of content, delivered over 5 days, and distill it to the essential concepts, delivered in densely-packed but brief video lectures.
So it's for people who might consider attending a writing retreat.
That is, it is for people serious about improving their story craft.
It is for people looking for an intensive learning experience.
I suppose it's a bit more geared toward beginner and intermediate writers. Which is to say, if you're confident in your knowledge of what make stories tick, don't take this class.
But if you know you have something to learn about storytelling, then sign up, try it out, and get your money back within the first 30 days if it's not quite for you.
Anyone writing stories needs to understand how stories capture human attention and imagination. The first half of this course deals with 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’s excellent online class, Story Momentum, helps writers supercharge their stories. There are no dry, ho-hum lessons here. Tim uses short stories, novel excerpts, film clips and even music tracks to illustrate momentum in story-telling. The workbooks and challenges help writers to apply what they’ve learned, and the intensive option gives the opportunity for even more extensive feedback from Tim.
"Tim is, first and foremost, a teacher. This is apparent in the way he presents complex material, breaking it down and explaining it in a variety of ways, so that all kinds of learners have access to it. His goal is a simple one: he wants to help his students become better storytellers. This course is unique in that it takes one often-skimmed over aspect of storytelling – momentum – and brings it into sharp focus, allowing students to understand how momentum works and to apply these lessons to their own writing."
- Suzanne Samuels
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.
Want to know more about TD Storm? Check out the About page for the school.
Want to know more about his approach toward writing and teaching writing? Look at this post on the "Core Tenets of Storm Writing School."
Is he the right teacher for you? Look, this class may or may not be right for you, but TD Storm is the real deal when it comes to writing instruction and editing. He has yet to meet a writer he couldn't help. Seriously, this guy friggin' rocks. (He's much more humble when he writes in first person, by the way. Very down to earth.)
What do people say about TD Storm and Story Momentum Mastery?
"He took complex concepts and distilled them down to simple, easy to understand steps and ideas that motivated the class and improved my writing immensely." -Deborah King
"I can confidently say Tim Storm is one of the most memorable and informative teachers I have come across. If you ever have the chance to take a class taught by Tim Storm, take it." -Ben Reese
"I recently told a writer friend that finally after nine years of searching, I had found THE writing instructor. Tim is the consummate teacher." -Jan Nelson
"The material Tim offers in this course is dense, and to benefit, the writer must actively engage. But dedicated effort here pays off. Tim is not only capable of shedding enlightenment onto a writer’s draft, illuminating what’s working, pinpointing what isn’t, and prescribing solutions. He teaches one to see." -Tricia Wagner
"Nothing gets past Tim 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 Tim." -Josh Cook
"I am always amazed that Tim can take gut-level issues and raise them to literate, reproducible consciousness." -Teria Robens
"My only complaint about Story Momentum is that Tim is not as funny here as he is in real life." -Tim Storm
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.
I'm Just Not Sure
Yeah, I get it. Big decision here.
So, a few suggestions:
1. You can preview a few of the lectures below in the Class Curriculum list.
3. You can contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we can even set up a brief meeting over Skype to talk live about your goals for improvement.
4. Go ahead and try it. If it's not right for you, let me know asap and you can get your money back.