Storytelling: The Key to Everything

Welcome to my new site design!  If you’re reading this you’ve arrived at that transitional moment between swapping out the design template and dusting off some of the new parts, most notably the updating of details to my coaching  programs.  An official “rollout” is days away… until then, happy reading.  Let me know if you have questions or comments… I’d love to hear what you think of the new Storyfix!

My New Writing Book – A Preview

In case you hadn’t heard… in case I forgot to bang the drum here… I’m writing another book for Writers Digest Books, this one called:

Story Fixing: The Repair, Resurrection and Redemption of Your Novel or Screenplay.

I’m turning in the manuscript this week.  Don’t have a pub date yet, but I’m guessing late 2015.  This one focuses on how to do what the title promises, yet it is completely applicable to new projects nearing the starting gate.

I’d like to share a sample with you today, from Chapter 8, entitled “The Key to Everything.”  It’s about the power of a compelling premise, and how to determine if yours meets that criteria.  You may find it jarring, or illuminating, but in either case here’s a taste of the truth, right in your face.

Adjust your story plan or your manuscript accordingly.

This excerpt is the finale of the chapter, a sort of locker room speech in case one has nodded off earlier.

If you’d like to read the entire chapter, click on this: 8 The Key to Everything. It’ s not a final draft – so there are some copy edit issues – but I wanted to share it with you now.

Here’s the excerpt:

Allow me to bottom line this for you.

You need to know your core story.

Not a bunch of threads leading to something unclear and irresolvable. You need to unspool that story along a core dramatic spine, a linear sequence of setup, twist, response and revelation, more twist, proactive response and yet more revelation, all in the presence of an antagonistic force (usually a villain) seeking to block your hero’s path, then one more major twist, setting the hero toward an inevitable confrontation, perhaps with a final shocking twist in story, allowing the hero to confront the villain and resolve the goal, one way or another.

And here’s the kicker – all of this concerns a singular core story. The one you promised in your premise. The one that met all those criteria for effectiveness. The one empowered by an underlying conceptual context.

No slice of life stories. No “adventures of…” stories. No episodic ramblings. No chronicles of simply being there.  No sagas  that read like biographies.  No plotless character profiles. No life-sucks-then-you-die diaries of miserable people who are simply unhappy and unfilled, without them doing something about it.

If you’re writing in a genre, you need a plot.  That’s non-negotiable.

Your readers want hope. They want to be engaged, they want to be emotionally involved. They want to empathize, to root for something. They want to be scared, they want to root against something. They want a vicarious ride, to feel as if they are in the story. They want to feel the weight of the story’s stakes and the urgency of the pursuit of resolution. They want to relate to it, even if they can’t because it’s not real. They want to feel, to laugh and to cry and to lose themselves. To be entertained, moved, changed, enraged, terrified, turned on and seduced. They want to fall in love again. They want to live within your precious pages.

Does your story do this? Does your premise create a vehicle that can achieve these reader outcomes?

If not, then you aren’t done. You haven’t found your best story.

You need to go deeper, wider, think outside of your box and take some risks. you need to let the principles in.  You need to play within the lines of the genre and the highest criteria of fiction. Which can be boiled down to this: drama and conflict are everything. They are the catalysts that allow character to emerge. They are the forces of story.

Without them your story dies. It’s really that simple.


I’m relaunching the site later this week, with a sizzling new graphic layout and more features.  I’m also over-hauling my story coaching programs, with a deeper level of analysis and more resources across all three levels.

The Concept/Premise evaluation is actually going DOWN in price, to only $49.  Given the critical role concept and premise plays in your novel or screenplay, this becomes hands down the best story mentoring service in the entire industry.  That’s a guarantee.  It can save you a year of work on a draft that may be dead out of the starting gate, simply because the concept and/or premise doesn’t cut the mustard.

The Full Story Plan analysis will see a price bump, but the deliverable value is going up even more.  Full manuscript reads remain available at $1800.

Check back over the weekend, I hope you like what you see.


Filed under Write better (tips and techniques)

10 Responses to Storytelling: The Key to Everything

  1. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. I’m in the throngs of editing my 5-book YA fantasy series, and I sure wish I had your new book in front of me! As I overhaul the plots, sometimes I feel lost in a jungle of options. I will be first in line to buy. 🙂

  2. I read the whole chapter. Good stuff. I know there’s some overlap with the other books, but without attacking the same ideas from multiple directions some of us (me) would never get this.

    I won’t just be buying it, I’ll be pitching it to every writer I know — as I do with SE and SP already.

  3. Hi Larry,

    I’m very excited for this new book!

    I have recommended your other books to some writers who have gone out and purchased it. Your advice on writing is invaluable.

    Thank you for your contribution to the writing society!


  4. shelley

    Really looking forward to your new book. I have Story Physics and Story Engineering. Both excellent and helpful.
    ********************************SPOILER ALERT************************
    Can we go back to GONE GIRL for a minute? I’m at midpoint. What are you all seeing that I’m not? I don’t get that she is masterminding her own death and framing Nick. Where on PG 203 does it lead you to that? She’s pregnant.

  5. @Shelley – prior to the midpoint in GG, all of Amy’s narrative is via her diary. But at the midpoint she begins simply narrating in present tense, and talks about being free. Keep reading. She explains directly how she set up all that fake evidence, and talks about her goal, going to far as to say she’ll commit suicide to cement the frameup of Nick. The movie is even clearer, we suddenly see her in car, instead of flashbacks. L.

  6. This is a test to see how comments appear within the new site design.

  7. shelley

    Thanks so much for the feedback-I’m still reading, and then going back to the midpoint.
    Love the new website/blog. Very effective!

  8. I loved the excerpt and can hardly wait to read the rest! Thank you for sharing your story structure wisdom with us, Larry.

  9. Larry,
    RE: your new website design
    Classy, easier to read and navigate, and better professionally. Big thumbs up!
    — Val

  10. Hi Larry,
    Congrats on the beautiful relaunch.

    It hope it brings you much success.