Many aspiring novelists and screenwriters have bought into two damaging myths:
Myth #1: You need a great high-concept idea to sell a novel or screenplay.
Myth #2: The only thing keeping you from success as a writer is a thorough understanding of story structure.
But after reading many of the screenplays that amateur writers break in with and countless novels, I’ve come to believe two very different ideas:
- A great writer is not one who comes up with high-concept premises but one who can take any ho-hum, simple idea and make it an entertaining, remarkable story.
- A strong understanding of story structure is neither sufficient nor necessary to sell a script or novel.
If all you know is that your character needs a goal, and you need to throw obstacles at the character, then you’re probably going to struggle. Because that explanation of story is so shallow and unhelpful that it doesn’t tell you what you really need to do.
So, if high-concept premises and conventional takes on story structure aren’t the answer, what is?
The truth is that several qualities often separate scripts and novels that sell from those that don’t. These qualities are
- specificity in the writing and story choices;
- an emotional reading experience that includes surprise, irony, humor, despair, joy, and other emotions; and
- a central dramatic argument.
Some would argue that these things are hard to teach. But that’s not true, and the reason I know this is that I’ve managed to teach myself how to do these things.
And now I’d like to teach you.
More importantly, I’d like to teach you a repeatable process for going from no idea to outline to finished first draft.
Rather than simply burying you in information, the course I’m developing will take you through that process, providing clear action steps to take and just-in-time training so that you can effectively carry out those actions.
In the course, I’ll also be carrying out the steps myself, using a simple, ho-hum story idea that you can use as well. You don’t need a story idea. In fact, the course will work better if you practice with the idea I give you, an idea you may be indifferent to.
The course will show you how to break/outline a story in a month and then write it in another six weeks.
This kind of speed is important because if you take too long to finish your outline or draft, you’ll get discouraged. That’s why my approach is designed to give you quick wins and show you how writing a script or novel isn’t impossible. In fact, if writing your novel or script is too hard, it means you’re doing it wrong.
This course will cover a theme-based approach to story structure as well as techniques for writing compelling scenes. But while others try to shackle you with story beats, formulas and rules, my approach to story structure is much simpler–and results in a richer story.
The course will also go well beyond these basics to teach you techniques for creating scenes that deliver a dopamine hit to the reader every time; you’ll learn how to create surprise, suspense, despair, relief, irony, and joy on the page.
Once you learn to take any old idea and make it something special, then you’ll be ready to tackle those high-concept ideas you may have but that you can’t yet execute on.
If you’re interested in the class, please join the list below. I’ll keep you posted on when the course is ready.