Story guru Lisa Cron unlocked my last novel for me over lunch.
— New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt

There are four ways we can work together in a one-on-one coaching situation. Choose the solution that works best for you:


1. Story Genius Quick Check

The Bare Bones Logistics: Two fast-paced, in-depth, 75-minute phone or Skype sessions to dig down to your story’s most seminal layer so you can write forward with confidence, whether you’re just starting out or already deep into your novel. Before our first session I’ll send you a Story Genius Quick Check Questionnaire to fill out, which I’ll read along with the first 20 pages of your novel and a short synopsis (if you have them; if not, anything you feel is relevant). After our first session, I’ll give you a specific writing assignment that we’ll discuss during our second.

Who this is for:

1.     If you’re starting a new project, but don’t quite know where to begin the process, this package will give you clarity, focus and direction.  

Are you just beginning to develop a new idea, and thinking about it is exhilarating, but when you sit down to write, everything goes fuzzy? We’ll zero in on what your story is really about, and then create a story-specific yardstick by which you can measure the meaning, relevance and power of everything in our novel. You’ll have the tools to keep your story on track, from the first page to the last.  

2.     If you’re already deep into your novel but it isn’t going quite as well as you’d like, this Story Genius diagnostic will reveal exactly why it isn’t working and what you can do about it.


How do you know if things aren’t going well? Here are nagging thoughts that often creep unbidden into writers’ brains late at night, keeping us awake into the wee hours. These thoughts are a sure sign of a problem:

 

·      I know something isn’t quite working, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is.

·      The more I write, the less I know where the story is going.

·      My novel sags in the middle, I think, maybe.

·      The ending sounded so exciting in my head, so why does it seem so flat on the page?

 

Our goal is to answer these questions and so banish those thoughts, because sheesh, how can you write a riveting novel if you’re not getting enough sleep? Your mom was right about that one.

 

What you get – the nitty gritty:

A Story Genius Quick Check includes five simple steps:

1.     Before we speak, I’ll send you my Story Genius Quick Check Questionnaire. Don’t worry if there are questions you can’t answer yet; this will start you thinking, and give us a place to start digging in. Our goal is to hit the ground running!

2.     You’ll send the completed Checklist back to me, along with the first 20 pages of your novel and a one page synopsis. If you’re just starting out and haven’t written anything yet, then you can send whatever you feel is relevant – notes, drafts, ideas – anything. Just make sure that everything is properly formatted (there’s always a catch, right?) All pages must be in standard manuscript formatting -- 12 point font, double spaced, 1 inch margins. And while we’re in the “rules” section: I must get all pages 48 hours before our scheduled session. I need my sleep, too.

3.     We’ll talk for 75 minutes – the conversations are lively, result-oriented, and detailed. We’ll brainstorm, drilling down to the essence of your story. We’ll tackle questions like:

 

·      Am I on the right track? 

·      What my novel is really about?

·      Where is my story logic, and can it hold fast from the first page to the last?

·      What is my story’s “third rail”?

·      What is the one escalating problem my story revolves around?

 

4.     Based on our conversation, I will give you a writing assignment. I may ask you to revise what you’ve already turned in or create specific new scenes -- which you will send me 48 hours in advance of our second phone 75-minute session, two weeks later.

5.     During our second call, we’ll drill even deeper into your story, so that you will have a yardstick by which you can measure the meaning, and relevance of everything in your novel. You will be in a position to write forward with clarity and confidence. 

PRICING: $750.00, payable in advance via PayPal.

 

 


2.  Story Genius Essential Scene Check  

The Bare Bones Logistics: Two fast-paced, in-depth 75 minute phone or Skype sessions to deliver a deep analysis of 3 scenes (that means up to 36 pages reviewed two times.

Who this is for:

1.     Writers who’ve been through the Story Genius Quick Check and have written their protagonist’s Origin Scene, their novel’s Opening Scene, and their Protagonist’s “Aha” Moment scene.

2.     Writers who’ve been working through the Story Genius book on their own, and want one-on-one feedback on these three essential scenes.

What you get:

What I love most about this package is that you not only get necessary in-depth feedback on whether these scenes work, story-wise, but on how to write a scene itself – which means that you’ll get a clear sense of where the conflict, tension and urgency really come from in every scene. Just as important, you’ll see firsthand that “scenes” don’t exist as one-offs, but are always part of a clear, escalating cause-and-effect trajectory.

And there’s a nifty bonus: this is also a primer on writing well. Here’s the secret – writing well doesn’t mean coming up with lovely luscious metaphors or using 50 dollar words. Writing well comes from diving deeply into the internal story – where all meaning lies -- and putting it onto the page. Dig deep enough and they’ll call your novel beautifully written even if there isn’t a single “fancy” word in it. Because as I’m quite fond of saying: The story polishes the prose, not the other way around.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

1.     I’ll send you a Story Genius Essential Scene Questionnaire to fill out – that way we can hit the ground running. As a bonus, it also includes a list of the specific criteria I’ll be using as I read your scenes -- criteria that you can use as a yardstick on every scene you write from here on out.

2.     You’ll complete the Checklist, and send it back to me along with your Origin Scene, your Opening Scene, and your Protagonist’s “Aha” Moment Scene. I will read up to 36 pages, total (not counting your questionnaire, natch). The pages must be in standard manuscript formatting: double spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins, and I must receive them 48 hours before our session, lest I not have the time to really dive as deeply into them as possible.

3.     During our first 75-minute session – either by phone or Skype – we’ll discuss your scenes: what works, what doesn’t, why, and where you can dig deeper to find what’s missing. The sessions are lively, fast-paced and eye opening – be prepared to take lots of notes.

4.     Based on what comes out of our first session, you’ll revise your scenes and resubmit them to me 48 hours before our second 75-minute session.  

5.     During our second session we’ll discuss the changes you’ve made and what you can do from here on out that will enable you to write forward with clarity and confidence.

PRICING: $750, payment in advance via PayPal.

 

 

 

 

 


3. One-on-One Coaching

The Bare Bones Logistics:  Two 75-minute sessions per month, either via phone or Skype, during which we’ll dive into 20 pages of your work in progress (that’s 40 pages a month); a specific writing assignment/goal at the end of each and every session.

Who it’s for:

Who needs one-on-one coaching? Every writer. Myself included (hey, nonfiction is just as tricky to write as fiction).

I know from experience that the best way to write anything is to work with a coach from the beginning or, if you’re already in a third, fourth or fifth draft that seems to get dodgier with each iteration, before you rewrite another word.

The problem with writing in a vacuum is that stories tend to go off the rails surprisingly early on, and then everything that follows is largely – and tragically -- irrelevant. Hello, page one rewrite!

Here’s what works: Figuring out what your story is really about before you begin writing -- or revising -- and then making sure that the story logic is clear, compelling and believable from the first sentence forward. It’s the only thing that cuts down on rewriting time, not to mention prevents the heartache of having to ditch an entire draft.

What you get:

We’ll unearth the heart of your story, create the fully-formed story-specific lens your protagonist enters with, and then make sure your overarching plot problem is capable of carrying your story from beginning to end.

As you write forward, we’ll make sure every scene gives readers what they come for: the experience of being inside the protagonist’s brain as the escalating plot forces her to wrestle with the longstanding misbelief that keeps her from getting what she wants.

The secret is this: the story isn’t about the plot; it’s about how the plot affects the protagonist. Because that is what affects the reader.

As your coach I will keep you and your story on track. I am a dedicated cheerleader, a ruthless whip-cracker, and someone who cares about your story as much as you do, sees it as vividly, and believes in it — and you — wholeheartedly.

The nitty gritty:

Before each session, I’ll read up to 20 pages. During the calls, we’ll discuss them in depth, zeroing in on what works, what doesn’t, why – and most importantly – what to do about it.  

Expect a lot of brainstorming – the calls are lively, fast paced, fun – ideas fly fast and furious, so you’ll want to take notes. By the end of the session we will have zeroed in on your next assignment, pinpointing exactly what your next move will be: rewriting, writing forward, or diving into your protagonist’s backstory to find out more about what, specifically, triggered the demons and desires the plot forces her/him to struggle with.

·      All pages must be in standard manuscript format – double spaced, 12 pt. font, one inch margins, Times New Roman or equivalent.

·      I must get all pages 48 hours before our scheduled session – that way I have the time to really dive into them, letting them percolate before we talk.

PRICING: $600/month, with a 3-month minimum. Entire fee payable in advance.

 

 


4. Manuscript Analysis

 

The Bare Bones Logistics: Three lively, in-depth 75-minute sessions, either via phone or Skype, centering on developmental feedback and brainstorming. At the end of the first and second sessions, I’ll give you a specific writing assignment geared toward generating what’s needed for a potent revision.

 

Who it’s for:

 

Writers who’ve just finished their first draft. If that’s you -- Congratulations! Making it all the way to “The End” is an accomplishment most writers never, ever achieve. Experts estimate that 97% of those who begin writing a book don’t finish it. So you are in that rarified top 3%. That’s really something, in and of itself. I hope you celebrated into the wee hours, even if you were late to work the next day.

 

But now, you want to be sure the story in your head is actually there on the page. Smart move. Because as the name implies, while the first draft is crucial, it’s almost always the first of several.

 

Speaking of which, maybe you’re already reached “The End” two or three or four times, but something’s still missing -- and you’re slowly going nuts trying to figure out what, exactly, it is.

 

What You Get:

 

I can help. My superpower (we all have one) is the ability to read any manuscript and clearly see what’s working, what isn’t, why, and what to do about it -- not based on “writing rules,” “technique,” or “wordsmithing,” but on what your reader’s brain is wired to crave, hunt for, and respond to in every story.

 

The Nitty Gritty:

I will give your manuscript a slow, deep read, and then we’ll spend an hour discussing in detail what works, what doesn't, and what you can do about it. The conversations are spirited, fast paced, full of new ideas and brainstorming. Rest assured, I will never point out a problem without offering specific solutions.

Based on each session, I will give you a specific writing assignment to help you dig into and develop what we’ve talked about, and begin to spin new ideas. I will happily read up to 10 pages of new material before both the second and third session to make sure you’re on the right track.

·      All pages must be formatted according to industry standards: double spaced, one-inch margins; 12 pt. font; Times New Roman or equivalent.

·      Screenplays must be properly formatted to industry standards.

·      I must get all pages 48 hours before our scheduled session – that way I have the time to really dive into them, letting them percolate before we talk.

 

PRICING: $10.00 a page, 100-page minimum, 400-page maximum, payment in advance.


Wondering what program might be right for you? Shoot me an email and I'll get back to you asap.

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