Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius

Lesson 10 of 17

The Worldview

 

Wired for Story: How to Become a Story Genius

Lesson 10 of 17

The Worldview

 

Lesson Info

The Worldview

This is really the big one. This one will take a while, I totally admit, because this is the worldview. And to be very clear, when I say worldview, I do not mean like the worldview of your story and here's everything that's happening, nor do I actually mean your protagonist's whole entire worldview about everything that they think about everything, to be very clear. This is your protagonist's story-specific world view. And the last thing you ever wanna do is one of those big giant birth to death or birth to page one bios for your protagonist. And you'll see them, like online, there are those forms you can fill out, and they're like, longer than the novel itself. And they ask all these questions, you know, like, where were they born, what sign are they, what's their favorite food, what's their favorite cartoon, what's their favorite song, when did they have their first kiss, what religion are they, what do they feel about euthanasia, you know. Just, question after question. What's their...

favorite room, do they like their middle name. I mean, stuff that has nothing to do with the story that you're writing. Knowing too much, if it's random, is worse than knowing nothing at all, because now you've got all this stuff and you're still trying to put it together and make sense of it, and you can't, because you're just creating a generic person with a lot of specific stuff. The other problem with doing those birth until page one bios is that they tend to be ten miles wide and a quarter of an inch deep. It's like you could wade in their deepest revelations and not get your ankles wet, because since we haven't gone into this internal struggle, which is what this story is about, it ends up being the same thing that the plot therefore ends up being, a bunch of things that happen. This happens and that happens, and because, just think about it in our own lives. Your life isn't just a series of external things happening and you're just reacting to it, you're making those things happen and you're making sense of them as you go forward, and then you're causing the next thing to happen. So what ends up making this external cause and effect trajectory make sense is the internal cause and effect trajectory because that's what's actually driving it. So when you ask all these general questions, you just get general, meaningless answers. And I've found, when people will do these kind of bios, you get to about the third thing that happens and it doesn't make sense. Well somebody who went through that would never actually do this, and then they would never actually do that and why would that person do this. Because it devolves into a bunch of things that happen. So that's not what we're talking about. What we're talking about is creating that story-specific lens through which your protagonist is going to evaluate the meaning of everything that happens, and struggle. 'Cause in every scene your character's gonna struggle and make a change and make a choice. So we're creating that lens, and a mistake that writers will sometimes make is they'll think, yeah, I wanna see through my protagonist's eyes, that's what I'm doing. And so, they tend to think of their protagonist as a camera. And I've seen this all the time. Writers will come in, and now the protagonist is looking at stuff and they're describing it in great graphic detail. You know, here's what the room looks like. Well, why are you telling me that? Well I just told you, because that's what the room looks like. It doesn't matter. What you're looking for are story-specific reactions to what's happening, because wherever we are, we are always on the lookout for inside intel. We're always looking for strategic information to make us feel safe and to help us accomplish whatever our goal is. Yet writers will sometimes, they'll write, and now what happens is, is the protagonist becomes neutral. They've got no skin in the game. So they're observing things that are happening, and even if they're being super insightful about those things, they don't play forward. They don't have any connection to the person seeing it. The most talented and successful writer I ever worked with, when she came to me, that was her problem. She'd just gotten an MFA from Columbia and she said, I have trouble, she called it plot. And the problem was that her protagonist, who was really insightful, would kind of go from scene to scene to scene, and she could be super articulate about what was going on with her parents who were getting a divorce, what was going on with her best friend, but none of it played forward and none of it affected her. So they were in essence one-offs. You couldn't anticipate anything and she wasn't feeling anything. It wasn't costing her anything. She just kind of floated from thing to thing to thing. Once she zoomed in on this and once her protagonist got an agenda and started moving through, it just flew off the page and she ended up getting like a, 2.7 million dollars, I never know how many figures that is. But whatever that is, she got a major deal for that and became a bestseller. The point is, that's what you really wanna dig into, because if you don't, it is like shoving your protagonist onto the page with amnesia. It's like saying, I'm going to write a 327 page novel about the most important turning point event in someone's life who I know absolutely nothing about. Amnesia is terrifying. I think I've said the name of this book, so let me just be sure. Yes, right, you do not what to shove them on to the page with amnesia. And so let me give you an example. And this is an example, it's a book, it's called Before I Go To Sleep. There was also a movie which I heard wasn't so good, I did not see it. And the premise of the book, the plot of this book, it opens, and there's a woman, Christine, and she wakes up. And she looks around, and she doesn't recognize anything. She's got amnesia, she's like, where am I? And then she looks next to her in bed, and there's this guy and he's naked. And he has a wedding ring. And he's like, in his 40s. And she's like, oh my god, what did I do? I can't believe it, I went out, I got plastered again last night, I went out clubbing, I passed out. As god is my witness, I will never do this again. And she slips out of bed and heads into the bathroom and turns on the light, and talk about, we expect this one thing to happen and something else happens instead. She turns out the light, and instead of seeing herself at 27, which is what she expects, she sees herself at 47. And what has happened is, it is mansplained to her by this guy who says he's her husband, who wakes up, and he says basically, you know, something happened to you when you were and you've had amnesia every since. You can form memories during the day, when you go to sleep, they're wiped out. What happened to you this morning, that's every morning. And so she is like, oh my gosh. Now this is what that feels like to really get it in your bones. This is her, now this is that same day. He's now left for work, and she's in this house that she absolutely doesn't recognize. And she says, "I stand up, I move through the house from room to room, slowly, drifting like a wraith, letting my hand brush against the walls, the tables, the backs of the furniture, but not really touching any of it. How did I end up like this? I look at the carpets, the patterned rugs, the china figurines on the mantelpiece and ornamental plates arranged on the display racks in the dining room. I try to tell myself that this is mine, all mine. My home, my husband, my life. But these things do not belong to me. They are not part of me. In the bedroom, I open the closet door and see a row of clothes I do not recognize, hanging neatly like empty versions of a woman I have never met." That is what happens when you just describe this stuff there and there's no reason why that person has it. I'm guessing she wouldn't have those little figurines. I'm always picturing little horrible Hummel figurines. She's going like, why would I ever have that there. She wasn't, the writer, SJ Watson, he wasn't describing it so you could see what the room looked like. He was describing it in her horror of going, what the hell is this? This isn't me. But let's dive a bit deeper. And here's what that feels like on a personal level, that sense of not having a past. She says, "I realize I do not have ambition, I cannot." And again, what is ambition? Ambition is the desire to fulfill an agenda. Nobody has ambition if it isn't for something. If your protagonist doesn't want something come forward with it, they're like the wraith going through. "I cannot, all I want is to feel normal, to live like everybody else with experience building on experience, each day shaping the next. I want to grow, to learn things and from things. I cannot imagine how I will cope when I discover that my life is behind me, has already happened, and I have nothing to show for it. No treasure house of recollection. No wealth of experience. No accumulated wisdom to pass on. What are we if not an accumulation of our memories?" That is what we are. Without that, we are a cipher. We are nothing. You have a character who can only react in the most surface ways, the most generic ways, the way any person would react and really nobody would react, because every single one of us has these memories. What we were talking about in that en medias res lesson, what Alan Burdock said. The brain is a, the core mechanism of the brain is to collect past memories in order to predict the future. That is what we do, and yet, writers are very fond of shoving their protagonist onto the page knowing very little. They'll go, I've thought about my character a lot. I've really thought about, okay that means nothing. I hate to say it, but that means absolutely nothing. Because when you think about it, it is still conceptual and generic, even if you have one or two specifics. This is what that looks like. What does that look like on the page? So let's imagine for a minute that I'm the protagonist of a novel and my writer is like, she's on chapter three or four, and, you know, she's getting to know me, gonna get to know my protagonist as I write forward. So there's a knock at the door, and all I know when I open the door is that that seems to be my coworker. So there's a knock at the door and it's a Saturday. Knock at the door, there's my coworker and she says, it's a beautiful Saturday, would you like to go hiking? And I think, do I like hiking? Have I ever been hiking? Do I have the shoes for hiking? Do I like her? What was I doing a minute ago? And at that point, I am no longer trying to figure that stuff out. I'm trying to figure out why the hell I don't know the answers to any of that. And you know, like when you stand up too quick and the room goes all wonky? I'm looking like that, and then I notice that she's like, gingerly backing down the stairs because, you know, let's face it, I look like I've just had a psychotic break with reality. And the only thing I'm kind of sure of at that point is that when I get to work the next day, which I'm not really sure what that is, no one will be able to look me in the eye because she's tell them that I had some sort of break with reality. Now is that what would ever happen? Would that ever happen in real life? No, of course not. This is what would happen. Now, I'm not saying you would put all of this onto the page if you were writing it, but this is what would happen. There'd be a knock at the door, I'd open the door and she'd say, it's a beautiful Saturday, do you wanna go hiking? And I'd think, no, I absolutely don't because when I was nine, we moved to a new town and I joined the Bluebirds and I really wanted to impress them, we went on a hike, and so I bounded up the hill because I wanted to be the first one to show them what a great hiker I was. Who knew I had acrophobia? I fell down on my tush, I threw up on the counselor's shoes, I had to scooch down the trail on my tush the whole way. It took 45 minutes. It started to rain, we were covered in mud, the bus was gone. I think I had pneumonia up until the end of the school year. I still haven't lived that down. I haven't been on as much as a stepstool since then. And my coworker? I don't really like her very much. In fact, the past three times she's asked me to do something I've said no, but I think she's in really good with the boss and if I say no again, he's gonna think I'm not a team player, and what I was actually doing today is I'm putting together the proposal to open up the new branch in Paris because that's where Jack is. And our boss said that whoever does the best proposal, and I think she's doing one too, is gonna get to go to Paris and run that branch. Did I mention Jack was there? And at that point I would turn to her and I would go, yeah, I do think I have a pair of keds. Because that's what we do. When something happens and this part of our brain that makes those 70 decisions that our cognitive unconscious can't, when it wakes up, we look to the past to try to figure out the meaning of what's happening now. We decide what to do, we play that against our future agenda, which of course is Jack in Paris, and then we turn and say yes, I would love to go hiking and I think I have a pair of keds in the closet. I'll be right back. Because what the hell is she up to? That's where story lives and breathes. Did you see the backstory that was in there? Now writers are often told, don't tell us what your character's thinking, just show us, and you know, the reader will get it. The reader will never get it. Story lives and breathes in what your protagonist is thinking and how they are making sense of what's happening. Because here is what that scene would look like if we kept that off the page. There'd be a knock at the door. I'd open the door. She'd say, it's a beautiful Saturday, do you wanna go hiking? I'd do this. And just one small thing, this is something that writers often have people do when they're thinking, in books, they rub their chin. In real life nobody ever does this. Have you ever done this when you're thinking? I don't think so. But in books they do. And then I'd go, yes I'd love to go hiking. How boring is that? The story isn't in the what, the story's in the why and how we're making sense of it. And you can't make sense of it without doing this work that we're talking about. Because the problem is, is that writers often think, well, we all see the same reality, why do we need to dig into the specifics like that? We kind of all grew up, basically in the same world. We all understand what it means to be human and we all know how to treat each other. Except for people who are really really screwed up and we hope they get a lot of therapy and join us over here on the page of real reality real soon. But that is not the way that it works. There's a great book, I used to say a new book but now it's been a while. It's called Louder Than Words, the New Science on How the Mind Makes Meaning by Benjamin K. Bergen. And he often talks about the fact, and what it's about is, is where does meaning come from? Is it something we have a priori that is just kind of wired into us? And the answer is no. Meaning comes from one place and one place only. And that is what our past experience has told us those things mean. That is the lens through which we look at and evaluate and judge, and we judge everything every minute of every day. And that doesn't make us bad, it's what makes us alive. That is where meaning comes from. It comes from your past. We all see things differently. If all of us went home and wrote what happened today, or just took five minutes and wrote, chances are, if we read it, you guys at home too, if you read what you wrote, you're not here with us, but if you were, if you were here, if you were one of these six people and you wrote, you know, here's what this day was like, someone might read it and go, well these two people are on different planets or in different countries, because we all are seeing things differently. We're all reacting to things differently. So let's do a little exercise here. You don't have to write anything, but you get to say something this time. I'm gonna put two words up onto the screen. And this actually comes from his book, Benjamin K. Bergen's book. I'm gonna put two words up on the screen, and when I do, I want you to just envision the first thing that comes into your head and sit with it for a minute. Is it day? Is it night? How do you feel? Okay. And you at home can play along. And here are the two words. Barking dog. Okay. So, I think we can do each one. So what did, what did you see, Shannon? I'm laughing 'cause I'm thinking about my neighbor across the hall whose dog barks all the time and scratches the door insanely all day long. And drives you crazy? A little bit. Jeff? My Golden Retriever Peaches out in the backyard on the deck just wanting to come in and play with me. And you're not letting her in? She was out there, I think because, I forget why she was out there, but every time she was outside she just wanted to come back inside. She was learning a lesson. Yeah, probably. Samantha? I was thinking about a friend's Pitbull/Rottweiler mix who, like, laid me up kind of against a wall one time. That didn't go over well, I'm thinking. What happened? Well he backed off, he didn't bite or anything, but you know, he barked and let me know who was in charge. Yeah, that sounds a little terrifying. Yeah it was a little terrifying. Laura? Being at the beach and this dog going crazy after the birds, barking at them and the waves. Michelle? I think of my dog too, and squirrels, mostly. And does that drive you crazy, the barking? No, it's just being a dog. It probably drives the squirrels crazy, which is probably the point. So mission accomplished. Edna? Little yipping chihuahua. As you walk down, or is it a dog you know, or? I'm thinking about somebody, a friend's dog. I guess it just came to me. The point is, every single one of you saw something different. And the emotional value of what you saw was different. I imagine that when you were pinned up against the wall or the fence, your heart was probably pounding. There was that moment before you knew if he was gonna bit your or not that was terrifying. And the yipping dog or the dog that's like going through, I mean that makes a person crazy. I get different answers every time I do this. Every now and then a smartass will say something like, I picture the cover of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night or some kind of a picture thing. Or even if everybody sees the same kind of dog, they still describe it differently. That's how I learned there was such a thing as a white German Shepherd, I had no idea. But somebody went in deeply to it. So it's not just what you see, but it's the memory it evokes, the feeling, and then how that might have affected your life. Like you guys at home, you know, you might have been, you might have actually been bitten by a Rottweiler when you were three, and you might be, and I hope you're not, but you might be like, under the bed with your heart pounding, hoping that your pulse goes back to normal by the weekend. Or you might be sitting there because you've just seen Lassie loping slow-mo through amber waves of grain, and now you're ruffling through your desk to tear up your will because to hell with your greedy relatives, you are gonna leave all your money to PETA, because you just love dogs that much. Point is, everybody sees something different and everybody feels something different. But there's only one thing that nobody ever sees, and that is a highly variable domestic mammal (Canis familiaris) closely related to the gray wolf. Did anybody see that? You know why you didn't? Because you can't. And do you know what that is? It is the dictionary definition of a dog. It is a dog in general. And here's the thing, we never do anything in general. It's an abstraction. The idea of doing something in general, the idea of a concept or something that is an abstraction, those things do not exist in reality. We made them up. In life, we do everything specifically, moment by moment. We don't go to school in general, we don't go to the market in general, we don't fall in love in general. Everything we do, we do specifically, and that's what you're diving into in terms of your protagonist's story-specific past. Not everything, but what it is that is going to make that story and what we've been talking about thus far is that thing that they want and their misbelief. And the goal now is to create what I call your novel's origin scene, your protagonist's origin scene. And often, this is actually in the novel, sometimes for more than one character. The origin scene is the moment that your protagonist's misbelief came into being. It has an aha moment, a big aha moment. Every scene that you write will have an aha moment. But that's what it is is the moment that that misbelief came into being. An origin scene, it always takes place during childhood or early teen years, long before your story starts. I mean, if you're writing like a middle grade book, then it might not have happened super long ago because if you're in middle grade you don't have a super long time before. It's always written in the first person. Even if you're writing the novel in the third person, write it in the first person because it is much more immediate. I've worked with writers where they're writing in the third person and you think, oh god, you don't stand a chance, and then they rewrite it in the first person and you think, who did you get to do this? You don't say that out loud. But it really can make a difference. So write it in the first person. It contains, again, an aha moment. Because they're gonna go in believing one thing, you're gonna get that expectation on the page, something's gonna happen, and now they're gonna come out believing something else. And it's gonna end with that explicit realization, meaning, this is what that misbelief is. Specific realization about how people treat each other. And one thing I wanna say, when you write it, because you're writing it and your protagonist is a kid, you're writing it as it happens. You're not explaining to us what happened. We're in the scene feeling it. I'll often say to writers, do you want to explain what happened to her or do you want me to experience it with her? And I can only experience with her if I'm in her skin and in her head as it happens. And the thing about kid logic, and this is a place where writers often go wrong, is that they'll think of kid logic as, again, going back to polite society, and it's the way that, almost in the 50s, the Disney look at kids. So it's very polite, it's very surface. Kid logic is edgier and rawer and deeper than adult logic because they don't have euphemisms yet. Because they haven't learned what you can't say and because, as a kid, kids are here. Like we said originally, avidity for patternicity, meaning, we're looking for what's safe and what isn't. We're looking for those patterns, this is gonna keep me safe. When you're a kid, you don't know what that is. And when you're a kid, it's life or death. As an adult, if you screw up or somebody gets mad at you or they kick you out, you can find another place to go. When you're six, you're kinda screwed. So it really has that life or death feel. And if you think that kid logic isn't, let me remind you that in To Kill a Mockingbird, in the book, Scout's six, and in the book Room, Jack, the narrator, is five. And in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Oscar is nine. And those are not children's books or YAs, or middle grade books, those are adult novels. So you really want to dive deep. Now let me, I'm not gonna leave you with just that, because it's like, wait what do I do exactly? So I wanna give you an example. I'm gonna read you, this isn't from a book, this is something that we wrote. I'm gonna give you an origin scene. This is what they look like. This is what you're looking for. So here it is. "I sat on my bed, tapping my pen against a pad of paper. My parents had always told me that talking about problems was the best way to solve them so I was making a plan." She's telling us right there what she's doing. So we get what her agenda is. She says, "I was going to march into my parents' bedroom and read off six reasons I had for why going to sleepaway camp was a bad idea." We know right there what this is gonna be about. We know right there where we're going. She says, "I had considered memorizing the reasons instead of reading them off a list, but last year my fourth grade teacher had chosen me to recite a poem in front of the entire school, and I got so nervous, I threw up right on Principal Marshall's shoes. I could feel that same nervous fluttering in my stomach, that same terror. What if I couldn't breath? What if I forgot my words? I wasn't going to risk that again." Again, what did she do there? Did we get backstory there? Yes we did. And did we find out, I guess if you know kids' stuff, how old she was? Yes we did, 'cause she said last year she was in the fourth grade. That's nine, so she's 10. And we also got, she's looking at the past, seeing how she feels now and playing it against her agenda in the future. She's not gonna risk it again because that would just ruin everything. "I reread my list one more time, glad I'd saved the best reason for last. You guy will be sad with me gone because the house will be really quiet." Now she's telling us exactly what she expects and why. "Then I stood up, stepped around my half-packed duffel and the brand new plaid sleeping bag dad had bought while I stood in the sporting goods store trying not to cry. Then I took a deep breath and headed down the hall. My mom just didn't understand what it was like to be shy. She was a lawyer. I once saw her stand in front of a roomful of people and make an argument, and she didn't barf on anyone. And my dad had so many friends coming and going all the time that I new he could never understand why I preferred the quiet comfort of a book." Now, did that pull you out? The backstory right there that she's thinking about as she goes forward, did you leave the story present when that happened? No you didn't. Because backstory is woven in in service of what's happening in the moment. It doesn't pull us out. It gives us a fuller view of what's going through the protagonist's head and what their reality is. "Just list the reasons Janie, I told myself. I paused short of my parents' bedroom door so I could build up my courage. I thought about how much they loved me and relaxed a little. Surely, when they heard how much it meant to me to stay home, they'd understand. Maybe we could even go to Disneyland again, or Six Flags Adventures. Our family vacations were so fun." Now she's giving us information, the way sometimes you can in a first person account, that she doesn't know she's giving us. Because if all their family vacations, again backstory, is Disneyland and Six Flags, that's what you do for kids, that's not what you do for adults. We can already feel that this is not gonna go the way that she wants it to. Now she says, "But just as I was about to go in I heard my parents laughing. I pressed my body against the wall, curious about what was so funny. It'll be so much fun, I heard my mother say. Wow, it sounded like they'd already decided to let me stay home. I breathed a sigh of relief." And doesn't that make you go, oh no honey. Oh no honey, you couldn't be more wrong about that. Again, she's telegraphing something that she does not know she is telegraphing. And she's making sense of it, 'cause that's what we do in a story. That internal thought. This has happened, and she's going, this is what that means. That is what your character should always be doing. Don't just tell us what happened, tell us how the character is interpreting it based on what they want. Because she didn't just interpret it like, oh, mom never laughs like that, she must be in a good mood, but it has nothing to do with her. She's interpreting that based on what she wants to have happen, and now she's thinking, good, I'm gonna get my agenda. But then she hears this. "Just the two of us, dad added, adults only at long last. It's been way too long. At first, I thought I misunderstood. I can't wait to be alone with you, just one more day 'til camp starts, mom said, in a low voice I had never heard before." Again, information is being telegraphed that she has no idea she is telegraphing. "They wanted me to go. They were looking forward to it. Crushed, I ran back to my room. A few minutes later I heard my parents in the hallway. When they saw me sobbing they rushed in. Janie, what's wrong? I tried to stay calm, but it didn't work. I don't wanna go to camp, I wailed. Please don't make me go. I'll be good, I'll stay out of your way, I promise. We'd love for you to stay home. There's nothing we'd love more than being with you, mom said, but we know you'll enjoy camp even more. We'll miss you like crazy, dad said. But it will be good for you to go to camp. You'll make a lot of friends there. I looked up from my nest of stuffed animals." Now just to pause there, my nest of stuffed animals. You see how she didn't just tell us, there's a daffy duck over here and a big bunny over there. No, my nest of stuffed animals. What does that tell us? She's not safe with mom and dad anymore, but the nest of stuffed animals, that's where she feels safe, and that's what that telegraphs. "My parents were lying to me. They were lying right to my face. With a sudden chill, I wondered what else they'd lied to me about." Again, we get a new piece of information and what do we do? We look to the past to see how did I misread that too? Oh my gosh. That's what story does. What happens in the present makes us look back to the past and reevaluate it, and that is exactly what she's doing there. "Clearly, they didn't love me as much as I thought. Maybe they regretted having kids, and unless I did exactly what they wanted me to do they wouldn't love me at all." Now she's making assumptions and those are gonna play forward. You can see that. "I dried my tears. Okay, I said, getting up and stuffing my sleeping bag in its sack, realizing I had to go. Leaving my parents didn't seem quite so bad now. For the first time, I was glad I was shy. I had no intention of making friends at camp. I mean, if you can't trust your parents to be there for you, why risk it with strangers?" And there you go. I mean there you go. She had what she wanted, she let us know what she was expecting, she let us know why, she let us know what her plan was. Then she interpreted everything that was happening based on what she believed. And now, when it does not go the way that she thought based on what she believed, she has a realization that makes her question everything in the past, and that leaves her with a realization that is gonna change everything. Because taking that out into the world, that's gonna make her misread everybody. That's gonna define her life. And at that moment she's feeling, this is painful, but now I know how to live my life. That is what an origin scene does and often, you find them even in the novel. Without going into any great detail here at all, there's a wonderful novel called Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and it has, I think five, it has five point of view characters in it. And the first line of it is "Lydia is dead but they don't know it yet," Lydia being the 15, almost 16, year old daughter of a family of five, now family of four. And as it goes forward, you know, we wanna find out, well what happened to Lydia? Why did she die? Why did she put herself in that position? And then how is her family gonna survive this year given how they feel about what they did? But the point is, without going into any of that, is we get origin scenes like this for almost every character. We get an origin scene for why her mother sees the world the way she does, for why her father sees the world the way he does, for why she saw the world the way she did. And you can bet that the origin scene for her mom and how she ended up seeing the world affected the way that she raised her daughter, and affected how she saw the world. So we're watching all of this play through. So the point is, this is something that very well might land either whole or in bits and pieces throughout your novel. Again, not pre-writing. So, the exercise is, and again, write your protagonist's origin scene in three minutes. Go for it. Channel Stephen King, that's the only way to do it. So again, for you guys at home, you have as much time as you need. And just to say, it's not like it's one place and it's inherently once place. You might think it might be here, then might go over here, then you're going, maybe that over there is it. There's not one right answer. So dig in, figure it out. You guys at home, you got plenty of time. Write a whole scene. And the great thing is, often people learn how to write scenes by doing this, because of the way that we just deconstructed that. You saw where meaning lay. You saw how we need that internality, why and where it goes. So for you here, I would say, in the three minutes that you've got, see if you can figure out what you think that origin scene might be. What might have happened that created that misbelief that your protagonist is gonna play through. We're not gonna workshop these, so, because we won't have time, but dive in and see what you can figure out. So ready, begin. Great, so that is it. And I'm sure that was hard and impossible to do in three minutes. But did you get a start with that? I mean do you feel like you've got some idea? And probably you did because you dug back when you thought about the misbelief to begin with.

Class Description

Do you feel like you have a book inside of you but don’t know how to bring it to life?

Lisa Cron has helped thousands of aspiring writers master the unparalleled power of story so they can write a novel or memoir capable of riveting readers!

In this class, you’ll learn:

  • What your readers’ brain is hardwired to crave in every story they read – and it’s not what you think.
  • Why writing a successful novel is not about having the innate “talent” that only a lucky few are born with, but something you can learn!
  • How to write a first draft that reads like a fifth draft, and cut down rewriting in the process.
  • How to become a more confident writer, and make whatever you’re writing now deeper, richer, more compelling, and able to do what all stories are meant to do: change how the reader sees the world, themselves, and what they do in the world.

This class is not filled with random, general writing exercises – rather each exercise builds on the one before it, giving you the tools to create a riveting story from the inside out.

Your goal: to build a novel (or memoir or screenplay) by first creating the material from which the story, and the plot, will organically begin to appear.

Writing a novel doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With this class, Lisa busts the writing myths that have held you back, and gives you a clear, concise, concrete step-by-step method to find your story and share it with the world! 

Reviews

Lacey Heward
 

This was hugely influential to my writing. I don't actually think I knew how to write until this class. Lisa Cron is a great speaker and teacher. She is well prepared and does an excellent job getting through all the important material. Everything I learned in this class could be applied to a book, essay, and even possibly one's own self-reflection. Who doesn't want to understand the point of life's story? Cron does an excellent job of getting to THE POINT. I have already recommended this class and will reference it again and again as I write. Thank you!

Tracy Holczer
 

I'm going to go back and watch this course every time I begin a new novel. It took me six years to figure out how to write my first novel, discovering many of these concepts as I went. I can't imagine the time I would have saved had I been able to consider them more carefully before I began. I recommend this to anyone who is just starting out, but also, to established writers. Every book is a different house to build and this course really helps set down a good foundation.

Crystal Cervantes
 

This class is amazing! It has taught me so much about the importance of a well written story and what goes into writing an amazing story. I appreciate how she points out that we should be weary to listen to some writers who advise to write it all out and just get it out. I love that because I have always been unable to do it! THANK YOU! For teaching me so many things about writing!