What's the single biggest difference between professional authors and novices? Professionals know how to structure novels and stories for maximum dramatic effect. This course helps you develop the same story structuring skills the pros use. You will understand how your passion, theme, premise, and characters help you create the structure of your story, and discover how viewpoint, dialogue, pacing, and many other techniques are used to build scenes and move your story from beginning to end.
Each assignment in this course helps you develop your own original novel or story. As you apply each technique, your story will take shape, with a clear path from beginning to end. Before you know it, you will be prepared to write fiction like a pro.
Steve Alcorn is the CEO of Alcorn McBride Inc., a leading theme park design company that creates products used in all the world's theme parks. He is a proponent of advance planning and has experience with wills, living trusts, advance directives, and power of attorney. His experience also includes arranging for in-home care, nursing home selection, retirement community evaluation, memory care facility selection, and the analysis of Medicare and other insurance paperwork. He is a counselor to his employees, possessing insight into the varieties of relationships, problems, opportunities, and legal issues that can arise in the field of eldercare.
Steve is the published author of a wide range of fiction and nonfiction works. During the past decade, he has helped more than 30,000 students turn their story ideas into reality, with many of his students publishing novels they developed in his classes. His books include A Matter of Justice, Everything In Its Path, Molly Builds a Theme Park, How to Fix Your Novel, Theme Park Design, and Write Your Life Story.
The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.
The name of this course really says it all! For the next six weeks, we'll focus on techniques that professional authors use to write effectively and efficiently and that guarantee a story structure that delivers maximum emotional impact. After all, connecting with your audience is what great writing is all about, right? In this first lesson, we'll explore the idea of story structure, and you'll discover that nearly every piece of fiction that works follows the same fundamental rules. We'll also look at the often misunderstood difference between story and plot, a concept that will be vital throughout the rest of this course.
At the heart of every story are the dramatic elements of passion, theme, character, and premise. Your passion is what drives you to tell your story, and the theme is the underlying message it carries. To convey your theme, you'll create characters who represent that theme--either positively or negatively. Put all of these together and you've got your premise. We'll talk about all of these elements in today's lesson.
Character is what story is all about. Without a character, and a change in that character, there can be no story. In this lesson, you'll discover why the best characters are flawed. We'll explore your main character--the protagonist--and the opposition forces of the antagonist. And finally, we'll take a look at the other characters who round out your story.
Today's is the first of three lessons in which you'll see how to construct a story outline, act by act. In Act 1, you'll learn how to hook your readers. Then you'll fill them in with some character history called backstory. And finally, you'll exit Act 1 with a bang by triggering a traumatic event in the life of your protagonist.
If Act 1 ends with a bang, Act 2 starts with a whimper. Your protagonist begins in crisis, an emotional state brought on by his or her flaw. And because of that flaw, your protagonist will struggle throughout Act 2, as the antagonist deals with setback after setback. Fortunately, at the conclusion of Act 2 your protagonist finally figures out the source of all this emotional distress and how to overcome it.
The epiphany that ended Act 2 has prepared your protagonist for triumph in Act 3. Now it's time to devise a plan. The result will be a final confrontation with the antagonist. In this lesson, we'll discuss the best way to arrange the defeat of your antagonist--it's not what you might guess. Then, with that climax behind you, you're ready to tie up loose ends in the ending.
We've accomplished a lot in the last few lessons. By now you should be pretty comfortable with story structure. In the next three lessons, we'll take the concepts you've learned so far and apply them to the development of a real novel. Today we'll begin by using the dramatic elements to create a character, his or her flaw, and then put it all together into a formal story idea.
In this lesson, we'll expand the story idea for a novel into the nine checkpoints of our three-act outline. This is quite a challenge for just one lesson, but we've become pretty expert at this story structuring stuff by now, so let's go!
Now that you have your outline--and a beautiful one it is!--it's time for that magical moment when you begin expanding it into the long form. Yikes! The actual novel is about to materialize. We'll begin by inserting markers for the scenes that support and develop the outline. Then you'll start expanding those scenes and threading your theme throughout. This is really writing like a pro!
One of the most important choices an author makes is viewpoint. It affects every aspect of the story--from theme, to pacing, to suspense. In this lesson, we'll explore the three most common viewpoints--omniscient, third-person limited, and first person--and discover their advantages and disadvantages. Then we'll dig into techniques for developing characters and establishing a convincing story logic.
In this lesson, we'll look at techniques for refining your plot and controlling its pace. Then we'll unravel the internal structure of every piece of fiction you've ever read, discovering a structure that I bet you never knew existed. After today, you'll never forget it. It's called scene and sequel.
Now that your novel, play, or screenplay is well underway, it's time to think about polishing the final product. In this lesson, we'll look at some techniques for making your writing sparkle, including tips on dialogue and imagery and how to use them to show, not tell. We'll also see how to establish your own unique voice, paying special attention to the aspects of cadence and musicality. Finally, we'll talk a little about the creative process and your role now that you know how to . . . write like a pro.