Wired For Story: What Your Reader's Brain Really Craves, and How To Deliver It –magine knowing what we’re hardwired to crave in every story we encounter, what hooks readers from pre-school to 80, and what keeps them turning pages. The answer is a game-changer, especially since the secret to writing a compelling story has very little to do with the surface plot or learning to "write well.” We’ll explore what the reader's brain is hungry for, why, what a story actually is, and why writers are therefore the most powerful people on the planet. The result? You’ll be able to zero in on what your story is really about before you write word one (or if you’re in the midst of your umpteenth rewrite, before you write another word). You'll not only produce a more powerful novel, chances are you'll drastically reduce your rewrite time.
SAMPLE ONE HOUR BREAKOUT SESSIONS
A Reader's Manifesto: 15 Hardwired Expectations Every Reader Has for Every Story – We’re hardwired to come to every story tacitly asking one question: what am I going to learn that will help me make it through the night? We’re looking for inside intel on how to best navigate the unpredictable, scary, beautiful world we live in. We’re hungry for insight into what people do when push comes to shove and, most importantly, why. As a result, there’s a set of specific expectations by which we unconsciously evaluate every story — expectations that have nothing to do with the surface plot or how beautifully the novel is written. By decoding our hardwired expectations one by one -- which is precisely what we’ll do in this session – you’ll walk away with inside intel that will enable you to create a novel that will rivet readers from the very first sentence.
How to Keep Your Novel on Track – Although your novel is made up of individual scenes, in truth those scenes are not individual at all, but part of an escalating internal and external cause-and-effect trajectory. That means that each scene is made up of myriad layers, which means that each scene performs myriad tasks – from moving the subplots forward, to giving the reader insight into the protagonist and her evolving agenda, to upping the ante in terms of what’s at stake, to causing changes that will ripple throughout the novel. Wow, that’s a lot! How do you keep track of it? And how do you get it onto the page so that all those layers merge to create what reads as a seamless whole? That’s exactly what we’ll unravel, giving you a clear, concise and concrete method of making sure that every scene you write serves the story you’re telling.
Redefining Backstory: The Most Crucial Layer of Story - All stories begin in medias res, a nifty Latin term meaning in the middle of the thing. The first half of the story is what creates both the internal and the external problem that the second half will solve. The second half? That is the novel itself. And here’s the kicker: most of what’s in the first half – the “before,” the “past,” yes, the “backstory” -- will be laced into the novel itself, beginning on the first page. We’ll explore the 5 questions you can ask, before you write word one (or, as a diagnostic for your WIP), that will help you create the story-specific backstory that will give birth to your plot, drive it forward and give it meaning. The result? An overarching story logic will provide you with an effective yardstick by which to measure the significance – and relevance -- of every word you write.
Secondary Characters, Subplots and Flashbacks - As with just about everything that will appear in your novel, all three of these elements spring from the story-specific past. So roll up your sleeves, get out your shovels, and we’ll dig into what happened in your story before page one. Topics include: How to create secondary characters who serve your story without turning into plot puppets; how to create subplots that spring organically from the story you’re telling instead of distracting from it; and how, and when, to weave in flashbacks. All of this boils down to asking “Why?” of everything – and just like out here in real life, the real answer to “why?” always lies in the past. It’s what gives birth to your novel’s overarching story logic, providing you with an effective yardstick by which to measure the meaning – and relevance -- of every word you write.
ALL-DAY WORKSHOP (Can be done in as little as 3 hours -- with no workshopping, or as long as 4 days +, allowing participants to write, and workshop, each step.)
What Your Reader Really Wants: 6 Steps to Writing an Irresistible Novel (Or Memoir, Screenplay or Short Story). Every writer wants two things: to tell a story that hooks readers and never lets them go, and to find a way to accomplish that without going through the long slog of endlessly writing draft after draft. This workshop will give you actionable ways to meet both goals. Instead of rooting around in your “plot” for the story, you’ll unearth the key elements specific to your story that will then create the plot, bring it to life, drive it forward, and give it meaning. These elements have little to do with the surface events or “writing well” and everything to do with what we’re hardwired to respond to in every story we read (turns out the brain is far less picky about lyrical language than we’ve been lead to believe). You’ll be able to zero in on what your story is actually about before you write word one, or if you’re in the midst of your umpteenth rewrite, before you write another word. You'll not only produce a more powerful novel, chances are you'll drastically reduce your rewrite time.