Oh, Andre Chaperon what have you done?
After buying Andre’s course Autoresponder Madness he inadvertently introduced me to The Hero’s Two Journeys by Michael Hauge, which has led me to learning more about storytelling and screenwriting.
As a consequence of this journey I recently bought Story Engineering by Larry Brooks and would like to share with you some of the points I learned or better yet, am learning, from this book.
Story Engineering is about the Six Core Competencies which are necessary to build a successful story. If one is missing, or poorly done, your story will be rocky at best. Therefore I reckon you’d be well advised to study them if you have any passion or desire to better your craft.
1. The Concept of Your Story
This is the main idea behind the story. Sometimes it develops from a “what if” question (like what if an ordinary boy learns that he’s a wizard, or what if a hobbit takes a journey to dispose of a deadly ring). Sometimes it comes from a newspaper article, or a dream, or a statement overheard from a stranger. It doesn’t matter where this seed comes from. What matters is that it’s powerful enough to sustain an entire novel.
2. The Character or Hero
Without a hero to root for, the reader won’t become engaged in the story or have a powerful emotional experience. As Michael Hauge says “the essential component of all successful stories is the hero’s pursuit of a compelling desire”.
Without giving your hero some compelling desire to pursue, your story will have no forward movement, your audience will have nothing to root for, and your reader will have no compelling reason to keep turning the page.
3. Your Story’s Theme
I’ll admit, I’m not an expert on theme. I’m not quite sure I understand it. But according to Larry, every great story must have a theme, “what your story is illuminating about real life.”
4. Story Structure
Yep, even Pantsers will admit this. Novels need a structure. Larry says there are “expectations and standards” regarding structure, and novelists who wish to see their works in print are wise to follow those standards.
5. Scene Execution
“A story is a series of scenes with some connective tissue in place,” says Larry. These scenes also have guidelines. A great novelist will master them.
6. Writing Voice
As a writing teacher, this is the hardest of the core competencies to teach. Voice comes through practice – it’s what makes Stephen King’s works read so very differently from Norah Roberts. It’s the author’s unique spin, the syntax, the sound. Larry believes that voice can get in the way of a great novel, and that less is better than more. I’m not sure I agree with him, but this is his list, and voice is definitely a part of storytelling.
I’d love to hear your feedback as always, so please comment below to let me know what you are currently doing to improve your storytelling skills, and share any insights of your own. I love talking marketing with you!
Always Dedicated to Your Success,