Okay, maybe not so much with the drumroll… there are thousands of writers from workshops I’ve taught around the country who have heard me stump this speech like an evangelist. There’s really nothing new under the sun when it comes to writing, it is what it is. But there are a multitude of ways to approach it, to define it, and then learn it. The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling is a developmental model I’ve created to put all the elements of storytelling into discreet, easily understood buckets of information and criteria, all of which are then poured out as a rich, melodic and seamless tapestry, an integration that becomes a story that actually works.
I’ve tested this one: there is no element, no aspect of the storytelling process, that doesn’t belong in one of those six buckets. The value in separating and labeling them is that one can then clearly understand the definition and criteria for each, as well as how each relates to the others. If you approach storytelling without this separation of disciplines, the process you get is like trying to define love itself. Good luck with that.
As a learning and story development model, the six core competencies become a checklist that must be addressed and completed before a story will work. Every successful story meets those criteria, even though their authors have no idea they were manipulating six different skill sets and flavors of creativity, and would be loath to admit it. And that’s fine, but again, this is a teaching tool and a developmental model, not an instruction booklet. If you want to learn how to tell a story, and tell it well, and if you’ve been frustrated with getting your head around the process because it just seems like one big cumulus cloud riding the tide of a hurricane, then I encourage you to give this creative process a try. I’ve had great success convincing even the most right-brained of writers that this engineered approach has value, and some say that after up to thirty years of workshops and books and study, this is the first thing they’ve seen that reveals a clear roadmap and process. That could be you, too.
Why does this excite writers? Because it answers the most basic and frustating of questions: how do I know what to write, and where to put what I write in my story? The six core competencies model makes those answers accessible, and does it without remotely smelling like a formula. Rather, its a structure driven by criteria.
You could write a book about each of the core competencies. Come to think of it, many people have. But only when you consider them in context to each other do you have something that can liberate you from frustration, at least over the course of a workshop agenda. Even if you’re the most organic and non-linear-thinking of writers, there’s something here that can help you.
Here then, at the most introductory, defining level, in no particular order (because there is no order), are The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling:
1. Concept — the idea that evolves into a platform for a story.
2. Character — don’t leave home without one.
3. Theme — yes, it’s like putting smoke into a bottle, but it can be done.
4. Story architecture — what comes first, what comes next, and so forth… and why.
5. Scene construction — you can know the game, but if you can’t play it well, you can’t win.
6. Writing voice — the coat of paint, or if you prefer, the suit of clothes that delivers it all to the reader.
That’s it. There’s nothing else. Notice that the first four are “elemental” while the last two are “executional.” You need to master all six of these to write a publishable story. Period, end of paragraph. If one is weak, the story won’t succeed as well as it could, and it’ll probably earn you a rejection slip.
The bar is high. But with this learning model, you now have a ladder. To say there’s more to come is the understatement of my career… that’s what Storyfix.com, and the forthcoming book entitled The Six Core Competencies, are all about.
I hope you’ll join me here on that journey.