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Go deeper.    Aim higher.

Write smarter.


An effective story – novel or screenplay – is always a complex creation.


Any yet, like other complex professions and avocations that we encounter every day – medicine, science, taxes, politics, management, athletics, art, even parenting and staying happily cohabitated – it is too often approached with a naïve expectation of simplicity and ready accessibility.


More people aspire to, and truly expect to succeed at, writing fiction than perhaps any other form of human expression and endeavor. And I think I know where this comes from.


Because when these things are undertaken by trained and experienced professionals, they can look easy. Even when they are anything but easy.


And yet, so much of the available writing conversation occurs within an overly simplistic context of: just write. Put your butt in a chair and start typing. Bring your idea alive, see what happens. Get it on paper, and then fix what isn’t working.


That’s not terrible advice for the right writer at the right elevation on their learning curve. It is simply astoundingly incomplete advice.


The collective kumbaya in the writing community is deafening.                                                               

As if anybody can do it. Perhaps worse, as if anybody can do it without assimilating the requisite skills. The fault in that, though, isn’t simply the evidence of statistics that show only a fraction of submitted and published stories becoming even reasonably successful. And not simply because the degree of difficulty requires some astounding degree of natural, Stephen King-level talent.


It also requires a really promising, fresh story idea.


But, like lightning or the lottery, that can happen to anyone. Only when it marries with some semblance of craft does that idea have a legitimate shot.


On the latter count, the aspiring crowd suffers from the variable clarity of the available knowledge (because it truly requires a deep comprehension), the actual empowering quality of it, and the degree of immersion and perseverance required.


That, my friends, is what scares most aspiring writers away.


Imagine if someone advised your doctor or tax advisor, early in their profession (as they work on your particular need), to just cut. Just add things up. See what happens, then fix it later.


This can work for storytelling. Especially if you’ve been it a while and your story sense is a throbbing nerve-center of creative tension. If that’s the case, good for you… say hello to Stephen King for me the next time you run into him in the elevator at Random House.


Those who have been writing stories for a while at least agree on one thing: the sensibilities you bring to storytelling from your experience as a reader are most likely far short of what you actually need to know about how stories are built, and what renders them commercially effective and memorable.


If you happen to believe that stories can be built however you want to build them—because this is art, dammit—then welcome to the literary fiction genre, which is the only realm in which this can be even minimally true. The rest of us, genre writers with high artistic expectations of ourselves, require the benefit of the discipline of story craft and all its nuances.


If you’re new at this, or you’ve been kicking around for years without the success you’ve dreamed of, you may or may not know better.


Before you can write a story that is so compelling and tight and gripping that it looks easy, you have to pay your dues assimilating a long list of craft elements and essences that are anything but simple.


So if you’re ready to take that next step toward a higher level of storytelling craft and instinct, or if you simply want to skip a few years of learning curve frustration because you’ve been listening to the wrong writing conversations, you’ve come to the right place.


Welcome to The Virtual Classroom.


This isn’t about shortcuts. Quite the contrary.


This is about going uncommonly, compellingly deep into the storytelling aesthetic. About how to arrive at the electric intersection of craft and art, where you can begin to sculpt stories that will wrench hearts and probe minds, stories that transform and transact and vicariously transport readers into other realms and settings and experiences with vivid emotional resonance.


Stories that will change them forever.   


A high bar, indeed. If you’re willing and ready to reach that high, let us begin the journey together.                                                       


Meet Your Trainer:

USA Today Bestselling Novelist Larry Brooks


Read the Blog:

Read the blog:

Sample Video Clips

Including a FREE 30-minute Video Workshop

Clip (8:49) from Story Structure - Demystified

Excerpt (2:47) from 2013 Lecture 

Willamette Writers Conference​


Interview with Joanna Penn

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