Category Archives: Six Core Competencies

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)

How to “Write Like Rowling”

A Deconstruction of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I don’t think of myself as a name dropper, but I do love to show how famous authors and bestselling books adhere to the principles of story structure.  Especially when those authors are still breathing… I get nay sayers who like to cite Shakespeare and Cervantes as examples of… well, nay saying.

The earth isn’t still flat, either.  But I digress.

They aren’t remotely my principles, by the way, I just put them into instructional buckets that I call The Six Core Competencies.  They are universal.  A sort of inevitable outcome of a process of natural selection within the craft of story telling: stories that work, even if their authors have no idea what they’re doing or what to call the structure when they stumble upon it, end up aligning with these principles… almost every time.

When a draft isn’t working, when an agent or editor suggests a change, that change almost always moves the narrative closer to the universal structural paradigm (the one that optimizes available story physics) that awaits… what it’ll look like when it finally does work.

It’s not formula, it’s story physics.  It’s the gravity of storytelling.

And that includes the Harry Potter books.

Author names don’t come any bigger than J.K. Rowling.  And because of that, readers regularly request a deconstruction of the Harry Potter oeuvre.  Some, I suspect, want to see the theories disproved.  Others simply want to see it exposed, lifted from the pages to becomes an example we can learn from.

So here you go.  And I’m happy to give credit where it belongs: I didn’t do this one.

Today I’m referring you to a great website called Write Like Rowling, which offers four posts on this analysis, in addition to other good stuff on all things Rowling.  This link takes you to the first in that series (they’re all there, a click away from this first one).  The author even cites page numbers of the major story milestones, with rationale showing how these story turns fulfill the mission of each.

It’s creator and author, Carolyn, wrote me recently to introduce herself and let me know that Story Engineering has, in her words, changed her writing life, and to alert me to her application of those principles (a test, really) to Rowling’s books.

No surprise (to me, at least), it worked.  Somewhere out there, a guy named Cervantes is rolling over in his grave.


Filed under Six Core Competencies