A Webinar, Three Spiffs, and a Promise

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by Larry Brooks on March 19, 2013

(Check for an update on the “Side Effects” Deconstruction at the end of this post.)

I truly believe that writing workshops can change your life.  Or that they should change your life. For many a killer workshop can become the primary catalytic event in the entire writing journey, a moment of clarity that flips the switch from hazy notion to bona fide Epiphany.

Those Epiphanies are the best part.   I like to think I specialize in them.

So let me cut to the part when I invite you to attend my Webinar this week, and then overtly and proudly bribe you to do so.  Officially it’s a spiff, a premium bonus for your money and time, but bribe has a certain literary panache to it, don’t you think?

I do this with great confidence.  Because what you don’t know (until now), is that my goal for this Webinar is to OVER-DELIVER.

Here’s the 411:

My 90-minute live workshop runs this Thursday, March 21, at 1:00 Eastern.  It’s being hosted by Writers Digest University, the best in the business.  Tuition is $89… but keep reading, there’s a discount for Storyfix readers.

This week’s title:

“From Good to Great: How to Apply the Principles of Story Physics to Craft the Best Fiction of your Life.”

This is not a rehash (“Good to Great” has been used before, but more as a theme and a generic goal than a branded product description; the context here is about the standards for an outcome).

Let me tell you what you’ll get… why you should drop everything and tune in.  Or if you can’t, opt-in anyway because the webinar is recorded and you’ll get the whole thing, uncut, at your convenience within a few days later.

You can read the official course description, and sign up, HERE.

You’ll see that this is a somewhat advanced course, taking the power of the Six Core Competencies to an applications level – with a focus on WHY this will make your story better than if you don’t.

WHY has everything to do with the power of STORY PHYSICS.  And when was the last time you heard THAT covered at a writing conference?

In fact, here’s the titles they wouldn’t let me run:

           What to DO to your story to make it Better than all the other stories in the Inbox, so it will actually SELL…

Beat the pants off the story to be read after yours, or before it, by out-writing the guy with his name on the title page…

How to turn a vanilla concept into a triple chocolate thunder story that requires a beach towel for a napkin and a CPR kit applied by a psychologist when the read has finished…

How to write a story that changes lives…

How to give yourself a shot at immortality, or at least an A-List career and a shot on NPR…

How to legitimately aim WAY higher than self-publishing…

How to Know and DO what Grisham, Baldacci, Connelly, Demille, Stockett, Brown, Collins, Scott Z. Burns and other Bestselling authors and screenwriters Know and DO…

How to Finally Understand what all those Rejection Slips Weren’t telling you…

Yeah, I’m pitching this really hard. 

Because I believe in it.   It’s proven, hard-core, center-of-the-writing-proposition stuff.  This is a 90-minute experience that can, if you hear it and let it in, completely change your writing life, by putting your story on steroids.

I won’t soft-peddle it, I won’t mince words about what is required to bust out and cause your story to pursue the realm of greatness.  Nobody else is saying this stuff, quite this way.

In fact, I’ll tell you right now: it’s story physics. 

The forces the ignite and drive all the components and principles and parts of a story, including your genius prose.  And if you’ve never heard of them, it won’t matter, they are in complete control of how your story works.

And they don’t land on the page by accident.  They happen through choices – informed choices – made by the authors who understand them.

This workshop will define and present those choices to you.

And we’re offering three incentives, in case this outcome isn’t enough of an incentive, to help you pull the trigger on this and join the fun.

The Discount

Storyfix readers get ten bucks off the regular fee.  Your cost is $79… just find the Discount box (on the left) on the WD shopping cart form and enter this code: WDS321LW.  (This discount expires the next day, and it not valid for post-airing archive purchases… but does apply to access if paid pre-broadcast.)

The Freebie

All participants will receive a personal critique (by me) of answers to three key questions about their story… answers that will either send you down a path of greatness, or not.  I’ll tell you which, and why.

Or, if you’d like deeper feedback on your story than that…

The Spiff that Would be an Opportunity

As you know I offer a $100 Story Coaching Service that looks closely at your story’s concept and infrastructure, as well as the other core competencies.  If you’d rather have than THIS as the spiff instead of the Freebie 3-question format described above, just send me your online receipt showing your registration…

… and I’ll do THIS level of Q&A evaluation with you for HALF price ($50… or $75 for a 3-day turnaround).  Use Paypal (to storyfixer@gmail.com) with that transmission, and you’re in.  (I can also invoice you through Paypal, which allows you to use a credit card without having to have a Paypal membership.)

This deal gets you the 90-minute webinar AND the Coaching document for a total of $129 (paid separately – $79 to Writers Digest… $50 to me).  Keep in mind, the Coaching alone costs $100 (and is worth orders of multiples more, based on feedback)… so this is your chance to get the Webinar, as well, for only twenty-nine bucks.

The Secret Strategy

Don’t tell anyone, but here’s an even better deal, especially if you’re in a writing/critique group, or if you teach a writing class of any kind (this material is very student-friendly, too): have some other writers over, serve coffee and turn the volume up on your laptop.  You all get the 90 minutes of Webinar for ONE discounted tuition, and a whole truckload of material to kick around, debate and use as benchmarks for your team critiques.

Divvy that up any way you’d like.

So there it is.  Four ways to beat the system and get a career-empowering mentoring experience for your writing.

I promise to rock your writing world by tearing down the wall between you and your highest dream.  I’m not saying it will be easy, but the code will be broken, the gates swung wide and your adrenaline turned up to 10.

Quick note on “Side Effects” Deconstruction

I just bought and read the film script for “Side Effects.”  An early draft, actually, which illuminates a before-and-after feel for how the script evolved and the edit was completed.  I’ll be posting an article on this, discussing what we can learn from it, very soon.

You can order a PDF copy of the “Side Effects” script, or dozens of other current and classic films, for $15… HERE.  (No commission to me.)

{ 17 comments }

Tami March 19, 2013 at 6:07 am

Is there a time limit on the 3-question/answer session? If I skulk off into forgotten shadows only to appear mysteriously in your inbox after a year has passed, will I still get my answers three?

Tami March 19, 2013 at 6:14 am

Also, your Story Coaching page appears to have a missing link. First line of the first paragraph: “(read more on THIS page)”

http://storyfix.com/the-100-level-story-coaching-program

/bugreport

Bill Hanger March 19, 2013 at 7:22 am

Hi Larry,
I took part in a similar offer last October. I greatly enjoyed it and thought it was well worth the money. Is the subject material of this webinar the same as the last one in October or does it focus on other areas of story physics?

Joel D Canfield March 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

I’m not ready for this yet, but when I am and you do this again, I’ll be having every writer in the county (all three of them) over for coffee and a listen.

Robert Jones March 20, 2013 at 8:07 am

I hope this does well. It sounds like a really good deal. I’m just unable to do it with everything I currently have going on. Wish I could.

Sara Davies March 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm

What would be cool is if the recording were available to those who couldn’t make it, so they could access it later. Don’t know if WD ever does that, or if you had to register first with the intention of listening later.

The comparisons between ideas that haven’t quite gelled and those that succeed in hitting all the bases were extremely helpful. Also, I very much appreciate the point that there’s a difference between failure and just not being done yet. If it isn’t working, don’t give up – change it and make it work – don’t settle for less than nailing it. The hard part is assimilating the criteria by which to know for sure whether or not I’ve nailed it. This definitely helped. With painting I know, and I know that I know. Writing is a whole different ball game. I’m reassured by understanding that it’s not easy to get, and not everyone gets it, and those who do don’t get it over night.

@ Robert: Just wanted to tell you…I started reading a novel that was given to me a couple of years ago, which I’d forgotten I had. “My Name is Asher Lev,” by Chaim Potok (1929-2002), published 1972. It’s about an artist whose family wants him to paint pretty pictures. There’s a significant disparity between his observations of the world and what his community wants to allow him to be or to express. I was in tears five times before I hit page 30. You might appreciate it.

Robert Jones March 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

@ Sara–Thank you for the recommendation. The premise sounds very familiar…LOL!

After I finish off my current WIP, the next novel of mine that I “re-engineer” is about a character whose family did him a diservice by undercutting everything he believed in and creating basically a fearful, useless human being. I didn’t make the character an artist because I wanted to show the extremes of how this could, or does, play out in everyone’s family. There is a villainous mother, and a great deal of mystery and lies the main character has to wade through in his attempt to seperate fantasy from reality.

It’ll be interesting to see how the milestones come into play. I think most of them are already there, but some rearranging will no doubt have to be done. I’m purposely not going near it until the current work is either finished, or in a new draft that requires time to be taken off in order to get distance. So I will probably grab a copy of this book and put it away for that time.

Larry March 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm

@Sara – your wish is my — er, Writers Digest’s — command. The workshop WILL BE/IS available, as part of their inventory of archives webinars. I’ll give you the link when I get it. As an attendee, of course, you get this free; WD will send that out next week. Thanks — L.

Kenneth Fuquay March 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Just wanted to say that the Webinar today was GREAT! I was totally bummed that I could only sit in on the first hour due to work commitments. Can’t wait to hear the rest when the recorded version is available!

Your delivery is easy to understand and goes a long way in parting the curtain to what makes a story great. THANK YOU!

Can’t wait for your book this summer.

Sara Davies March 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

It WAS great. I’m looking forward to being able to download the notes. Good to hear WD has an archive. Loved the chart. Was ecstatic about the chart. :)

@ Robert: Yep. Sounds like you have a lot going on. Why is it always mom’s fault? (It’s mom’s fault in my story, too, btw.) Seems more challenging to identify plot points in a story built around the inner life of a character than in one based on action. As I’m reading Potok’s novel, I’m looking for them. His writing is amazing because every page is emotionally charged, despite the lack of action. Kid draws pictures, watches mother have nervous breakdown, watches father go to work, absorbs little-understood accounts of religious persecution under Stalin, goes to school, fails math, watches the snow falling, talks to store manager who got sent to Siberia for 11 years. Not much is happening, but it is still riveting, excruciating, vivid, exhausting…in a good way. ;)

Robert Jones March 21, 2013 at 5:00 pm

@Sara–In reality, it was actualy my father who was the controling source of much unpleasantness (to put it nicely). I reversed it in this story I mentioned above. It was easily done because a couple of people I knew had the controling moms. Moms from that era seemed to do the controling on a more psychological level. The dads were atom bombs who attempted to keep the pieces of life and loved scattered in their explosions. I needed a smart-psychological villain for my story. One who could direct the dad where his exuberance would do the most good.

I read the first few pages of Asher Lev on Amazon and it seemed like it will be a solid read. You’ll have to let me know if it manages to keep the emotional level running high.

Matt Duray March 22, 2013 at 1:09 am

Thanks for the webinar Larry. I’m reading through your Story Engineering book for the second time at the moment (my story has evolved since the first read through) and I’m nailing down my concept in preparation for your analysis, so your examples of nudging a good premise towards a great one were particularly enlightening.
I couldn’t ask a question because I was listening on my phone on the way home – it started at 5pm here in England – but I’m concerned about my First Plot Point. It’s a time travel story but at the FPP it turns into a revenge story, with time travel still playing a big part. Am I mixing genres and if so, is that ok? I feel the answer is yes, as long as there’s a distinct mission going forward, but I’d appreciate your insight.
Other than that, this is my first comment in the couple of years I’ve been reading your posts, so I wanted to thank you for all of your selfless advice.

Sara Davies March 22, 2013 at 9:59 am

@ Robert:

I think it’s safe to say there are clearly defined gender expectations and roles with regard to the implementation of skulduggery. Women usually end up as behind the scenes backstabbers. That’s just how we roll. Because villains don’t think of themselves as villains, I wanted to create one who operates on the level of business as usual, as if the crazy, horrific stuff he’s doing is normal.

Reading Asher Lev has been instructive because the story is quiet, linear, straightforward – which makes the plot points stand out like billboards. You can’t miss them. 1950s Brooklyn. The conflict is between this Hasidic Jewish kid and the values of his parents and community, heightened by the fact that his father risks his own life to help Jews escape from Communist Russia. His father’s work makes Asher’s interest in painting worse than frivolous or blasphemous. His interest in art becomes socially irresponsible, self-indulgent, self-centered almost to the point of criminal indifference in a community that has a mission to repair the world. Without the father’s occupation, the conflict wouldn’t carry the same weight. The FPP launches the self vs. family conflict. The Midpoint gives Asher a way to deal with his problem, but also shows the reader that the situation is not quite as advertised. You thought it was apples, but no, it’s oranges. The 2PP forces a conclusion, but doesn’t reveal the outcome. The plot points appear more or less where Larry says they should, and directly relate to the core conflict. Most of the snake-shedding-a-layer-of-skin-too-early emotional intensity is in the first half. The descriptions convey a kind of hyper-realism – brighter colors, sharper lines, a sense of power in the ordinary. In some moments, the family tension verges on the Kafkaesque. By the second half, the story mellows and it’s good that it’s not so heavy. People with an arts background, (or who’ve confronted social expectations that force them to deny who they are) would appreciate this story, although it is kind of dated. It wouldn’t work well as a movie, because what makes it compelling is the interior life of the character. Still have 60 pages to go.

Robert Jones March 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

@Sara–Sounds quite interesting. I was wondering if one could actually get into family history without becoming a little Kafkaesque. But having you say that makes me want to read the book more. On occasion, I’ve compared moments of my past to Kafka’s Joseph K., so I’m on board with this already.

I’m thinking, in terms of those of us who had parents who grew up during the 1950s, that those “good old days” were really not so good. They were fairly paranoid times. Ultra-conservative. Inhibitive to the point that life became a bubble universe. There was no “out there,” there was just getting by–a symptom left over from the Great Depression that sort of became a lifestyle. Add to that the sudden fear of nukes and spies and you’re pretty much setting the foundation for the out of hand fear factor of today. But coming during those times of lesser communication (technologically as well as socially), and I’m sure it seemed as bad then as it does to some folks today. The cycle just keeps repeating, as history so often does.

The men from that era were not very inclined to revealing their feeling. A problem was often addressed as, “Buck up and get on with life,” otherwise you were whiney, infantile, less of a real man. Taken in conjuction with the fact that their options were limited, many were not exactly prone to follow their dreams. It’s no wonder they were angry. Repression was a way of life, and all that bottled up emotion came out in moments of anger. I can recall when I was in school, even the guys with fathers who spent time with them and tried to be pals, would say things like, “My dad can be pretty cool, but just don’t get him angry.”

I think women had to be almost covert. That behind the scenes behavior you mentioned was pretty much a staple of life so they didn’t upset the delicate balance of their husbands delicate sensibilities. It’s like that commercial that says, “Don’t tell your mother,” only then it was , “Don’t tell your father.” The king of the castle mentality in men, along with all those repressed emotions, made them pretty hard to deal with without some type of circumvention.

But yes, you can see how all that maneuvering behind the scenes could end up becoming a back-stabbing quality for some who either enjoyed it a little too much, or possibly became very good at it. The need to control, or have the power, has never been exclusive to one sex. History shows men bungled in firing cannons as a reaction to an emotional response, while women learned how to govern those reponses.

It’s interesting that the origins of psychology doesn’t actually touch on this more. Good stuff for characterization though.

Sara Davies March 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm

@ Robert:

So, I finished the book. You had mentioned an interest in endings. This one meanders a bit and becomes moody, but just as it threatens to turn boring, the focus zooms in on the core conflict, funnels down into it like a whirlpool, and finally drains off into nothing. A method to be filed for future reference. This is one of two books I’ve read with a “life sucks, then you die” ending that actually works for me. (The other is Pete Hamill’s “Snow in August”). It’s a great book. Not happy, but about something real. I felt like Potok was in my head writing it just for me. I couldn’t write anything that powerful if I had eternity to try. But still, the elements are all there, which confirms what I feel intuitively: the way story structure works is organic, built into how human beings confront life problems. It’s hard-wired in a way that reflects an innate internal rhythm. The people who think it’s an artificial construct are incorrect.

My mother, who came of age in the ’50s, said those were “the bad old days” even at the time. One of her early jobs was working at a “home for unwed mothers,” where pregnant rich girls would go to quietly give up their babies while pretending to be vacationing in Europe. Gender roles from that period helped no one – still don’t. What you say about repression seems to reverberate in the fiction produced by award-winning writers of that era – men whose books celebrated a romantic macho tragic hipness. As a reaction against social repression, it makes sense that stories like that would have provided an outlet. My father was a paranoid schizophrenic who could not be preventing from sharing his views with the world, but his brother and father worked for the defense department and were secretive and silent – the embodiment of control, containment, watchfulness, suspicion, circumspection, wariness, repressed rage, etc. I knew almost nothing about either of them until after they died. My father’s mother provided the correct public facade. I had an aunt who also perfected the art of social rigidity. Strange times, but more innocent than today. Back then, you could still imagine that things could be fixed. You’re right, though – if you can’t use your power directly, you have to resort to more subtle methods. “Women’s liberation” was supposed to liberate men, too – not enslave women to the burden of stoic suffering that characterizes the male hero. What I find peculiar in popular culture is the way women are depicted in roles formerly reserved for men: toting guns, wielding axes, drowning their sorrows in cups of nails, acting as faux tough and devoid of feeling as the Marlboro Man. Is this progress? One might ask how to write a “strong female character” but no one asks how to write a more nurturing, humane, vulnerable male character. Traditionally “feminine” attributes continue to be equated with weakness. The worst insult to a man remains to compare him to a woman. This can’t be good.

Robert Jones March 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

@Sara–It does seem we have a bit of a reversal going on today; women picking up the angry axe and attempting to lay waste where men left off. I look at some of them and wonder how the women who faught for those rights for over a century would feel if some could see how they are now portrayed. But it goes along with my phylosophy that most people are fighting battles that aren’t theirs to fight. It’s borrowed trouble, passed down from generations past and warped along the way.

It’s also a fact that all repressed people will break out and act very much like their repressors. Another of those psychological cycles. Will people never learn to look around for themselves and stop responding to the clap-trap they’ve been told?

There’s a movie called Freedom Writers that I think might interest you, if you haven’t seen it. It’s about a teacher who is assigned to teach these inner city kids. The kids were brought up on violence and racial hatred. It was the world they knew and were taught. The teacher breaks through and teaches them about the Holocaust, widens their perspective, and how she faught the school board to remain with her kids in the coming years. It was based on a true story, the teacher eventually wrote a book based on the kids lives when she first met them, and how they progressed. She moved to be near some who went on to college–the only class in that distict who did so.

I also agree that “Snow in August” was a great story. Hamill’s “Forever” wasn’t bad either. Though so many stories ended up at the World Trade Center during that period. At least Hamill kept his intrigueing with a lot of history of NYC throughout. Didn’t end quite as impactively as Snow did, however. I loved how the kid’s faith brought the golem to life. He blended the fantasy and reality quite nicely there.

K.Zahm March 25, 2013 at 7:17 pm

I wish I wasn’t unavailable for your webinar. Thank you for this site and your books. I’ve blossomed under your advice, and now I can’t help but watch a trailer, TV show, or movie without pinpointing the FPP, Midpoint, and SPP:). Your straight-from-the-hip advice is exactly what my writing needed. Here’s to hoping I can catch your next session!

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