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Early Bird: The Story Cube

Thursday, September 5, 2024

Presented by Steven James

8:00 am - 1:00 pm

EarlyBird Description:  The Story Cube

The Story Cube: An in-depth exploration of what truly lies at the heart of all great stories

Ever since Aristotle, story theorists have been looking at story through a temporal lens—beginning, middle, and end, or first act, second act, and third act. But what if there was another way of conceptualizing story on a more elemental level? What if there was a way of understanding story that was easy to visualize and remember and that would apply to any genre you write? Well, there is, and in this two-part seminar you’ll learn how it can transform your writing and storytelling forever.

In Part 1, you’ll learn:
● What a story really is (it might surprise you!).
● The specific things that your opening needs to accomplish, no matter what genre you write in.
● Why every story that doesn’t entertain collapses in on itself—and what to do about that.
● How to use settings to either inhibit your character’s pursuit or enhance it.

In Part 2, you’ll learn:
● The three realms of struggles within a story and what readers expect to happen within each of them.
● The centrality of tension, its propulsive force to drive a story forward, and how to enhance it through unmet desire.
● Why struggles are incubators for growth and why sacrifices that mean nothing to characters mean nothing to readers.
● Specific tips on creating moral dilemmas that will engage readers, reveal characterization, and add intriguing, unpredictable climaxes.

Pivots and Payoff: How to write an unforgettable ending every time

Your story’s pivot is one of the most important moments in your story, yet one that’s rarely taught. It will be unexpected, inevitable, an escalation of what preceded it, and a revelation that adds meaning to what has already occurred. Readers want to predict how a story will end, but they also want to be wrong—yet still satisfied. In this seminar you’ll discover how to develop pivots and climaxes that leave your readers stunned, thrilled, and blown away.

You’ll learn:
● Why the necessity of “rising action” is a myth and what to include instead.
● How to create believable twists that won’t feel too contrived, too predictable, or too outlandish.
● The difference between stated and implied narrative promises, why it matters, and when to use each of them.
● Why it’s much more important to be able to state your dilemma than your theme.


Scene Study: How to make the most of every scene

Every scene will end in one of four ways—and only two of them do anything to move the story forward or contribute to the character’s development. Learn what those two are and, even more importantly, discover how to master the two scene endings that will actually advance and enhance your story.

You’ll learn:
● Why pursuit is far more important than plot, and how to use that insight to inform every scene in your manuscript.
● How to know when to summarize a scene and when to render one.
● Why it’s essential for characters to fail in order for a story to proceed.
● How to start scenes, what stalls them out, and what can propel any scene forward.


Steven James is the bestselling, critically acclaimed author of nineteen novels that have won more than a dozen national and international awards, including four Christy Awards for suspense and an International Book Award. His thrillers have been praised by Suspense Magazine, Booklist, and the New York Journal of Books and received starred reviews from both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, who call his work “thought-provoking” and “riveting.” When he’s not writing, he teaches writers at events around the globe.






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