Handout to “How to Write a Story that Rocks”

I had an absolute BLAST with Larry and the audience at LTUE. I think the workshop went very well for the first time. Of course, I’m going to make some tweaks. Paul Genesse had some interesting feedback and I’ll have to see if I can’t do more with character. Two hours is such a short period of time.

The good news for those who couldn’t attend is that we have a recording and will be posting probably next week. Everyone should thank Stephen Nelson!

We ran out of handouts. I printed 80. Then Mark Holt generously had 30 more printed. We still didn’t have enough. For those of you who didn’t get one or who want an electronic copy, here it is.

How to Write a Story That Rocks – Handout

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12 Responses to Handout to “How to Write a Story that Rocks”

  1. davemaarten says:

    John, thank you so much for posting this. This handout is (as usual) really spectacular.

    I’d love to know how you bring all these insights into a workflow. I feel like the prototypical “can’t remember more than three things at a time” reader. As an aspiring writer, should I be able to tap these strategies off the top of my head? Or should the approach be more one of polishing ideas perpetually throughout the creation process, using these strategies as a touchstone?


  2. Diamondb says:

    I loved this presentation and am thrilled to have the handout. I have struggled with building good stories, mulling over different forms (3 act, 7 act, Campbell’s monomyth, etc.) and this approach is fantastic. This alone made my trip to LTUE worth it.

  3. It was an awesome two-hour workshop, John. I think everyone — aspirants and people who have published — got something out of it.

    BTW, you should know that “Servant of a Dark God” is on the shelves at the Smith’s up on Bengal Boulevard in the Sandy benches.

    Meanwhile, the West Valley Smith’s on 5600 West didn’t have any copies that I could find.

  4. John Brown says:

    Thanks, Brad. Glad you were able to be there and add your insights. 🙂

    Diamondb, so happy it helped. I think the issue, at least for me, with talking about forms (3 acts, 5, 7, hero’s journey, etc.) is that form means nothing outside the context of function. And so those form discussions never proved helpful to me. Yeah, I understood them. But once I figured out it was all about the problem and making it harder, it seemed to make everything so much easier. Hope it does for you.

    Davemaarten, use them as prompts, tools. Your goal is to get a problem, plot, and character that jazz you. You can use all of these, some, or none. They are means to an end. We’ll be posting the video of the presentation next week or the week after.

  5. bdayton says:


    It went great! I was really glad that you were able to cover so much ground. I know that it really helped me with a few steps, and gave me one of the craziest ideas for a book that I’ve ever had.

  6. John Brown says:

    Excellent, you’ll have to tell me the concept.

  7. wisealma says:

    This workshop was the highlight of the week (I was at LTUE all 3 days). It was so insightful. I can’t wait for John to post the video.

    Thanks again for all your help John! I’ll be looking for your book.


  8. John Brown says:


    Good to hear it was so helpful!

  9. mkacluff says:


    My friend and I missed that particular workshop and I am glad that you posted the handout. I eagerly await the video.

    I was the guy that walked with you down to the bookstore on Sat and couldnt get a copy of the book because I had to catch my plane to Boise. Hopefully I can get my hands on a copy soon.

    Thanks for pearls of wisdom that you share with us “hopefuls”.


  10. John Brown says:


    Yeah, that was a bit frustrating to encounter that book ordering screwup. But I’m glad you found the conference helpful! Keep writing!

  11. andrewv says:


    This handout is fantastic. I look forward to seeing the video!

  12. John Brown says:

    I’m glad it’s helpful. However, I included many things as memory joggers. For example, “Kumbaya”–what does that mean? So you really need the video to understand it. Keep you eyes peeled.