The Whole “Story Engineering” Enchilada Overview, via 20 PowerPoint Slides

Trying to teach the full enchilada comprehensive overview of the Story Engineering writing mindset in one hour – 50 minutes, to be more accurate –  is like trying to equip a teenager for college, marriage and a corporate career during a quick lunch at Applebees.

As if one could actually keep the attention of a teenager for that span of time.

But that’s what happened to me in Las Vegas, at the Las Vegas Writers conference, and it’s all my fault.  I was asked what I wanted to teach, and then this happened.

Not that the audience was composed of teenagers, quite the contrary, they were hungry for information.  I use that analogy because… well, it makes the point.  The writers in that room were for the most part mature, whip-smart writers seeking to go to the next level.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, and to some extent, it was. 

A contextual overview of the broad span of the Story Engineering context is a valuable piece of the delivery, much like looking over a navigational map before setting out from Seattle for Hawaii in a sailboat.  One should know what one might expect and not expect along the way.

Storms and sharks and running out of gas… all of that awaits on the story development journey, as well.

Perhaps the most frustrated person in that meeting room was me.

Because I know from experience that even a full weekend workshop leaves some of the sub-sets and nuances of this learning short-changed, relegated to a stud- this-later-when-you-have-more-time take away.  The structural diagram, in particular, is a full day lecture and a full year or more of immersion (which includes actually applying it within a draft) to fully wrap one’s head around the functionality of it all.

Those seeking a magic pill or a quick fix always leave disappointed, even after that full weekend workshop.

And yet, the 50 writers in attendance (twice, over two identical sessions; some of the second day attendees were repeats from Day 1 who wanted more) seemed to hear and learn what I wanted them to see and learn, given the time constraint.  I could almost hear their brains exploding, their eyes wide and their questions astute.

Of course, the long-form exploration of this resides in my three writing books, especially the first one (Story Engineering: The Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing, from Writers Digest Books), though the other two go beyond that introductory context to explore how these core competencies are empowered to work (“Story Physics”), and then how to be hands-on with them to either plan or revise a work-in-progress (“Story Fix”).

That excitement translated to what amounts to a writer’s dream come true (mine), when on the third day, just before my keynote address, they brought in 100 copies of the three titles (thanks to the local bookstore that stepped up to make this happen), which sold out in about 30 minutes or so.

Which is why I wanted to share this with you today on Storyfix. 

If you’re been around here, this becomes a valuable review of the basics, with an integration of the core competencies and story physics, all within the context of application.  If you’re new to this, then this becomes precisely what it was in that meeting room – a Cliff Notes crash course introduction into what many believe to be the most effective and clear story development and writing model out there.

Something that can truly change and empower your writing journey.

One final note here…  I tried to get this onto the post page itself, which was a no-go, thanks to whatever constrictions WordPress decided to impart to the software.

Greek to me.

So you can use this link to gain access to that PowerPoint itself; I hope you will:

LV PP to WP post II

Bon appetite.  Epiphanies may await.  I hope you find one or two here.





















































Filed under Six Core Competencies, Write better (tips and techniques)

12 Responses to The Whole “Story Engineering” Enchilada Overview, via 20 PowerPoint Slides

  1. Larry,
    Great job distilling the essence of story engineering into a compact, understandable format! Well done.

  2. Thanks so much for providing all this in a succinct 11 pages. I’ve read all 3 books but it’s great to have a smaller guide to refer to in the midst of writing.

  3. Wow. This is amazing! As I’ve mentioned before (a gazillion times to whoever will listen) Story Engineering changed my writing life. Story Physics changed it even more. And Story Fix was the cherry on top. Thank you for all you do, Larry.

  4. Kerry Boytzun

    Wow, that had to be one fulfilling experience! Good for you, Larry.

    For anyone not sure if Larry’s goods are the real McCoy, I’ve been at this for 3+ years I think. So my wife has been subjected, not willingly, to listen to me deconstruct (that’s bitch, moan, and complain) every movie and tv show-series we watch.

    A few years later she has picked up on a lot of it (Larry’s stuff) through me. What has changed is that she can now decipher why she gets bored, confused, pissed off–with a show.

    She proves you just can’t write “whatever you want and call it Art”–and expect your audience to agree that your “Art” is worth watching. Or reading.

    Another case in point, is she was reading a big author’s published book, whose book had “back story” take up 2/3 of the book! I kid you not! She was pissed off and skimming through the book until she got to THE REAL STORY.

    If you don’t understand the contextual strucure of the 4 acts, your “back story” will lack relevance to the actual story you introduced at the FPP–if you introduced one at all!

    Once she got to the good part of the book, she loved the end. The lesson here, is that this book was NOT a best seller, and did NOT get turned into a movie, unlike his FIRST book. Why? Because the 2/3 of the book was killed by back story.

    Here’s another example coming from my wife as an example: “useless sex scenes”. We’re watching Rogue, first season, which has sex scenes worthy of porn. BUT…while the actors were VERY realistic, and very fit I may add…the scenes weren’t really relevant to the story. It was no different than actors on the way to the bank job stopping to use the bathroom, or getting something to eat.

    Many episodes on, there was a sex scene between the two stars that was much more compelling, because it had meaning–relevance. The characters were beginning to care for each other.

    Sex in a story has relevance if it shows the goals of the characters involved. Otherwise, it’s just another break and is getting in the way of your story. “We interupt the story with”: bathroom break, car chase scene, sex, singing.

    Singing works in a musical only when the song is relevant to moving the story along.

    But–many writers like to throw things in to “spice it up”. The wrong spice makes your story’s soup taste bad and will suck.

    I completely recommend Larry’s workshops and anyone working with him as well.

    thanks, Kerry

  5. Michele Pridgeon

    Love this distillation, Larry. Fabulous job and appreciate you sharing.

  6. Martha Miller

    This is a godsend, Larry! I have just about committed your structural paradigm to memory over the years, but this is something I can have at hand when I’m at a head-scratching stage. Thanks!

  7. I enjoyed having a refresher course. After I took your workshops at a Writer’s Digest conference in Los Angeles, I swore off ‘pantsing,’ in favor of writing down my concept and premise first. This helped me revise, for the sixth time, my manuscript. After reading your first book and referring to my notes I made a loose outline of chapters and revised twice again. Two years later, and after a mentorship program where I again revised twice (not because of story structure), my ms is in much better shape and in the query stage, requested by several agents who read the first 10-50 pages.
    Readers/writers, save yourself years of revising a manuscript by reading story structure, going through the step by step work, and outlining your ideas into the stages. My second ms was written much faster and with fewer revisions. I also recommend taking a workshop on story structure.

  8. This is like a goldmine! I’ll have to go share it on Twitter. The slides are a great summary of the book for those of us who like a quick review now and then too. Thanks so much for linking to them.

  9. I was at this conference and Larry’s presentation was wonderful! No, 50 minutes isn’t enough time to really get into this topic, but it’s enough to give the audience a taste for it. Larry has certainly inspired me to learn more on my own. I’ve read a lot of writing advice in my time (including this blog), and it’s refreshing to get a new perspective, particularly from someone so passionate and engaging. I’m almost finished with the Story Engineering book now, and I think my next novel will be stronger for it!

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