New Workshop: How to Write a Story that Rocks

Folks, the first tentative schedule for Life, The Universe, & Everything (LTUE) has been set. For the past few years I’ve been teaching a 2-3 hour workshop called “The 3 Things You Must Learn To Write Killer Stories.” I think I must have taught it over 15 times in different venues. Hundreds have attended and said they loved it.

However, this year I’m going to be doing something different. I’m developing a new two-hour workshop called “How to Write a Story that Rocks.”

I’ll be teaching it Thursday evening, February 11th from 5 PM – 7 PM at LTUE at BYU. It’s FREE and open to all.

What I found was that a lot of new aspiring authors get lost in mountains of rules. But great storytelling isn’t about rules. They try to form stories with word counts, chapters, and weird plot diagrams. But stories aren’t about those things. They have a hard time knowing what to write next because they don’t understand how story works. In fact, some don’t know how to start at all. They just flounder in their piles of zing. Finally, even if they can get a bullet outline, they have a hard time turning that into a scene.

So what we’re going to do in this workshop is this.

  1. I’m going to bring in some ideas for character, setting, and problem. We’re not going to generate from scratch as we’ve done in the past because I want to get to the next steps.
  2. Then I’m going to teach you how to go from idea to outline–we’re going to do it together, and you’re going to learn exactly how to know what comes next 
  3. Then we’ll go from outline step to scene sketch.
  4. Then from scene sketch to draft.
  5. At every step I’ll be pointing out key story development concepts and principles

When we finish, you should be able to:

  1. Identify the essential story objectives and story development questions–get these right and the rest doesn’t really matter. This will include the HANDFUL of key things you need to worry about and develop with character and plot.
  2. Develop more likeable and interesting characters
  3. Develop more powerful story concepts (call it premise, problem, situation, whatever). Once you get this the story writes a lot of itself.
  4. Explain the real Story Cycle. Not Campbell’s mumbo-jumbo hero’s journey. Not the three, five, seven, nine acts. Not Freytag’s diagram. Story.
  5. Explain what it means to “move a story forward,” “increase the stakes and tension,” “complicate the plot,” “complicate the motive” and how that’s done using surprise, conflict, motive, and problem. Included in this are “turns,” “rugpulls,” and “reversals.”
  6. Use the Story Cycle concepts to generate a story bullet outline and take a bullet step idea and turn it into a scene.
  7. Explain the creative principles that help you generate stories more easily.

Larry Correia will be there as well. So I’m expecting this to be a very helpful workshop. I’m going to do all I can to make it as good or better than the first.

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8 Responses to New Workshop: How to Write a Story that Rocks

  1. John,

    Mind if I kind of tag along on this one? I will be at LTUE all weekend and am doing a panel on military SF earlier the same day. I saw your name — all by its lonesome — up in the schedule that Charlie sent me, and I was eager (understatement) to see if I could hitch a ride.

    In addition to being a Writers of the Future winner, I just got word tonight that Stan Schmidt is taking one of my novelettes for ANALOG SF. I also write for locally-produced audio SF serial Searcher & Stallion, and have been generally fictioneering for years.

    Since we’ve been rubbing shoulders at Dean Smith’s blog, and since I had a chance to see both you and Larry last year — chatted with Larry about Baen in fact — I was wondering if you’d mind a third wheel?

  2. bdayton says:

    I’m going to to my absolute best to be there for LTUE. I really love that thing. Unfortunately, it’s going on Thursday through Saturday, which is almost my entire workweek. I doubt I can get people to cover all the shifts, but I’m sure going to try. If not, I’ll just shoot for Thursday so I can make your workshop.

  3. John Brown says:


    Feel free to come. I’ll be happy to have you there. I’ve had authors in the audience in other sessions. I think it adds to the experience. What I usually do is ask for their experience/input at various points along the way. Color commentary etc. So do come.

    BTW, big congrats on the Analog sale!!!!

  4. Sounds ideal. And thanks! I’m so happy right now. Long years of rejection, struggle, and now suddenly I am scoring some big wins.

    Looking forward to LTUE.

  5. davemaarten says:

    Hi John,

    Please consider recording the workshop and posting it online. You’ve got fans who can’t make the journey and don’t want to miss the learny goodness!


  6. John Brown says:

    Dave, I would love to do that. My issue is that I don’t have the time with my current deadline to figure out what’s needed and how to do it and get it all ready. I’ll be focusing on developing the workshop right up until the date. Hopefully I can do this in the future. If it goes well, I’ll run it again for sure. So we will have other opportunities.

    If there’s anyone reading the blog who does know how to get this recorded easily, send me an email. We’ll discuss 🙂

  7. Terry Baker says:

    I’m interested in the LTUE seminar on the 19th. I’ve visited your site and
    L E Modesitt Jr. sites with either “broken” links or no info at all.
    Can you help with times, subjects, and places (in the Wilkinson Cntr)?



    • John Brown says:

      Terry, so sorry I didn’t see this earlier. I recently activated a plugin that holds some comments, and I had a batch I didn’t see. Hope you were able to get the info you needed.