How Stories Really Work
This book is a powerful tool for understanding fiction and for transforming your creative writing and taking it to new levels of clarity, energy and effectiveness.
In its pages, you will learn about:
• what a story really is and what it is actually doing to and for readers
• the universal patterns that all successful fiction follows to attract and grip readers
• the magnetic power that draws readers into a work of fiction even before the introduction of any character
• what the thing called a ‘character’ actually is, and the secrets of how to rapidly build a convincing one that attracts readers
• the things called ‘plots’, what they are and how they are actually made (rather than how you might suppose they are made)
• what a ‘protagonist’ really is and why this character is different to all the others
• what an ‘antagonist’ really is, and what the connection between him or her and the protagonist consists of
• the four categories of the powerful force that compels readers to turn pages
• the ‘nuclear reactor’ that drives all successful stories through to their conclusion
• how the four basic genres -Epic, Tragedy, Irony and Comedy- are composed and how they work to create different effects
• exercises that will help you to evaluate exactly where your fiction needs to change to be more successful
• the writing model which, if followed, will create a machine generating unimaginable numbers of readers and heightened reader satisfaction for you, based on some of the most successful pieces of literature in the English-speaking world.
Along the way, you’ll discover:
• the presentational secrets that lie behind super-successful books and how you can use them in your fiction
• how to generate as much emotional commitment from readers as you want, stably and without any kind of 'trick'
• how to make sure you reach more readers by engaging with them in the proper way
• how you can add depth and meaning to any story so that your fiction resonates with readers and creates a desire to read it again and again
and much, much more.
Whether you want to be a better writer of fiction or simply understand how stories work, this book doesn’t waste a lot of your time -though there are some important theoretical things you’ll need to grasp, there are no long chapters to bore or exasperate you. It’s a steep learning curve at times, but we try to minimise using odd terminology that compels you to re-read page after page.
Though it’s touched on, this book isn’t about the ‘Hero’s Journey’ -you can read about that elsewhere. The principles in this book explain why the Hero’s Journey is such a common thing in fiction.
Nor does this book go into things like the ‘three act structure’ or where a climax occurs in a screenplay. There are plenty of works about all of that. This book gives you the reasons why all those things work.
This book is designed to be simple but effective. It’s practical and pragmatic. It’s based on hard experience from the teaching of literature; its theories have evolved from talking to students about the world’s greatest authors for over twenty years. It’s written to convey to you a tremendous amount in the shortest possible time. If by the time you reach the end you feel that you need further help in actually applying these ideas to your own writing, there’s a companion volume -How Stories Really Work -A Practical Manual to Transform Your Fiction- full of templates, diagrams and exercises to guide you to do just that, available through the website: