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A Free Reading Guide to Use with ‘Story Engineering’

A guest post by Jennifer Blanchard

(Quick pre-read note from Larry — Jennifer Blanchard represents the best possible outcome for me as a writing teacher, blogger and author.  She’s someone who had looked for clarity for many years relative to how to write a novel – really write a novel – and when she found my website, and then my book, “Story Engineering,” she says it changed her life.  To be honest, she’s not the only or the first person to say that, but she’s the absolute best living proof-statement to this day relative to how this understanding – not so much me personally – can  truly empower your writing life.  I’ve watched her blossom not only as an author and a professional, but as a purveyor of writing wisdom in her own right, with an on-going stream of helpful guides and ebooks and blog posts and guided programs that take the craft forward in clear and value-adding directions.  A month ago I had the privilege of c0-presenting a 4.5 day “master class” workshop with her, and listening to her wax eloquent on the various facets of storytelling craft was an amazing thing to behold.  She is one of the most prolific, positive, high energy writers I’ve ever met.  Someone we should all listen to.  It humbles me that she reflects on her work with me as she does here.  Every writing teacher should be so blessed to have someone not only get it to the degree she gets it, but represent the material as she does.  I am in her debt in so many ways.   Larry)

Like so many of you reading this blog, I had my life totally changed by discovering Larry Brooks and his story structure model. For me, this was back in early 2009.

At the time I was on a mission to find the information I was missing, the information that would allow me to finally write a cohesive, engaging story (because up to that point everything I had tried was a total disaster).

Googling around and checking out articles, I somehow managed to come across a guest post by Larry on another blog. That guest post led me to

And the rest is history.

That article totally changed everything for me. It brought story structure front and center in my mind and helped me to see exactly why nothing had worked for me previously.

I was hooked.

Hooked on Larry. Hooked on story structure.

And since I had read every freaking writing book and took every freaking writing workshop and college class I could find about writing novels, and still never came across the story structure info I learned from Larry, in that moment I made it my mission to spread the story structure message far and wide.

So in late 2009, when Larry put together an eBook called: Story Structure: Demystified, and asked for beta readers, I jumped like a sugar addict jumps for a cupcake.

I got my hands on that eBook and I read it cover-to-cover. Five times in the same week. I even printed the whole thing out and put it into a binder so I’d be able to have a hard copy to read and make notes on. (And, of course, I wrote a glowing review.)

A year later, this amazing, life-changing eBook became, Story Engineering, published by Writer’s Digest Books.  It remains one of their bestselling titles on writing craft, and was followed by two other killer writing books that build on that initial revelation.

I make it a point to re-read Story Engineering at least once a year (sometimes twice!). Because I want to stay connected with the core stuff required to write a killer story.

If you’ve read Story Engineering, you know what I’m talking about.

This book is by far the bible of storytelling. I recommend it to every single writer I come across. I shout from the rooftops why people need to read it and follow it.

Because it’s just that good (which you already know if you’ve read it).

The Story Engineering Study Guide

I wanted a way to keep the information from the book right in front of me at all times. Almost like Cliff Notes for Story Engineering.

So I created a reading guide to go with the book. It’s a simple PDF that I used to keep track of what I learned in each section, and any additional questions I had or things I needed to get clarification on.

And I’m gifting this reading guide to you, so you can also use it to keep the principles of storytelling at the front of your mind.

You can download the free Story Engineering reading guide here.

How has Story Engineering (and Larry Brooks) changed your life? I’d love to know! Share in the comments.

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is an author and story development coach who empowers emerging novelists to take control of their writing destinies, by helping them master craft and create a pro writer mindset. Grab her free Story Structure Cheat Sheet and put the principles of structure to work in your story. Visit her website here.


Filed under Guest Bloggers

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)