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Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story
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Example (All protagonists have a goal)


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Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story

with Lisa Cron

Video: Example (All protagonists have a goal)

We know that the protagonist must have a very clear goal at the start of the story, something he or she desperately wants but can't yet reach. Here is an example of the kind of external goal a writer might create during the development stage of a story. (female speaker: Dan ditched a promising career as an environmental lawyer to take a lucrative job at an investment company that specializes in oil futures. He made his move even though he knows the guys at the top of firm are shady, because he just turned 29 and his goal is to make ten million by the time he's thirty.) Do we know what Dan's goal is? You bet, he wants to make $10 million.
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  1. 2m 40s
    1. Welcome
      1m 45s
    2. How to use this course
      55s
  2. 9m 38s
    1. Explanation (What is a story?)
      3m 34s
    2. Example (What is a story?)
      4m 14s
    3. Story check (What is a story?)
      1m 50s
  3. 8m 46s
    1. Explanation (Hooking your reader)
      3m 51s
    2. Example (Hooking your reader)
      3m 19s
    3. Story check (Hooking your reader)
      1m 36s
  4. 8m 51s
    1. Explanation (All stories make a point)
      2m 56s
    2. Example (All stories make a point)
      3m 54s
    3. Story check (All stories make a point)
      2m 1s
  5. 9m 33s
    1. Explanation (Feeling what the protagonist feels)
      3m 43s
    2. Example (Feeling what the protagonist feels)
      3m 19s
    3. Story check (Feeling what the protagonist feels)
      2m 31s
  6. 7m 6s
    1. Explanation (All protagonists have a goal)
      2m 36s
    2. Example (All protagonists have a goal)
      3m 9s
    3. Story check (All protagonists have a goal)
      1m 21s
  7. 7m 37s
    1. Explanation (Uncovering your protagonist's inner issue)
      2m 53s
    2. Example (Uncovering your protagonist's inner issue)
      2m 27s
    3. Story check (Uncovering your protagonist's inner issue)
      2m 17s
  8. 9m 58s
    1. Explanation (Being specific rather than vague)
      4m 51s
    2. Example (Being specific rather than vague)
      3m 33s
    3. Story check (Being specific rather than vague)
      1m 34s
  9. 9m 3s
    1. Explanation (Suspense and conflict)
      3m 29s
    2. Example (Suspense and conflict)
      4m 6s
    3. Story check (Suspense and conflict)
      1m 28s
  10. 10m 35s
    1. Explanation (Cause and effect)
      4m 0s
    2. Example (Cause and effect)
      4m 16s
    3. Story check (Cause and effect)
      2m 19s
  11. 11m 50s
    1. Explanation (What can go wrong, must)
      4m 42s
    2. Example (What can go wrong, must)
      5m 0s
    3. Story check (What can go wrong, must)
      2m 8s
  12. 10m 59s
    1. Explanation (Setups, payoffs, and the clues in between)
      4m 19s
    2. Example (Setups, payoffs, and the clues in between)
      5m 6s
    3. Story check (Setups, payoffs, and the clues in between)
      1m 34s
  13. 11m 7s
    1. Explanation (Flashbacks, subplots, and foreshadowing)
      4m 56s
    2. Example (Flashbacks, subplots, and foreshadowing)
      4m 20s
    3. Story check (Flashbacks, subplots, and foreshadowing)
      1m 51s
  14. 1m 49s
    1. Next steps
      1m 49s

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Writing Fundamentals: The Craft of Story
1h 59m Beginner Jan 31, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Lisa Cron digs into the craft of writing a compelling story based on what the brain is wired to respond to in every story we hear. Whether you're writing a story from scratch, or revising your story for the umpteenth time, this course offers practical how-to advice, then illustrates it using before-and-after examples. Discover how to craft a first page, zero in on your story's point, create empathy, find a character's secret goals and inner issues, translate generics into specifics, write for suspense, create cause-and-effect connections, build momentum and tension, and deftly implement setups, payoffs, flashbacks, subplots, and foreshadowing.

Topics include:
  • What is a story?
  • Hooking your reader
  • Feeling what the protagonist feels
  • Being specific
  • Creating suspense and conflict
  • Writing flashbacks and subplots
Subjects:
Business Collaboration Presentations Business Skills Writing Communication
Author:
Lisa Cron

Example (All protagonists have a goal)

We know that the protagonist must have a very clear goal at the start of the story, something he or she desperately wants but can't yet reach. Here is an example of the kind of external goal a writer might create during the development stage of a story. (female speaker: Dan ditched a promising career as an environmental lawyer to take a lucrative job at an investment company that specializes in oil futures. He made his move even though he knows the guys at the top of firm are shady, because he just turned 29 and his goal is to make ten million by the time he's thirty.) Do we know what Dan's goal is? You bet, he wants to make $10 million.

That is pretty darn clear. What's missing is the why. We have no idea why he wants the $10 million other than a rhetorical, hey, who wouldn't? But we don't turn to stories to tell us what we already know. We turn the stories to tell us what we don't know and are dying to figure out. And what we don't know here is why Dan wants $10 million. One answer could be that he wanted to buy a lot of expensive stuff. The only problem is it that still leaves us thinking, yeah, but who wouldn't? What's your point? The trouble is right now the answer to why does Dan want the money is basically just because.

And in story, you never want the answer to anything to be just because. So how do we find the real answer? By asking what does having a lot of money mean to Dan. In other words, we're looking for his internal goal. So let's figure it out. And notice that once we do, it completely changes and deepens the plot, including shifting his external goal. (female speaker: Dan spent his life dedicated to helping humanity.

He's worked long hours, and along the way he neglected his wife, his friends, even his own health. Just as his environmental law firm scores a major victory against a big oil company, he discovers that his little girl had a rare and deadly blood disorder and he realizes how much his family means to him. The doctors tell him they've found a cure, but they need ten million dollars to implement it. Torn between his drive to help humanity and his desire to save his daughter, he quits his job and goes to work for the very oil company he's on the verge of putting out of business.

His goal: to make enough money to save his daughter. The cost? He must help overthrow the victory his law firm just spent years securing.) Hey, turns out Dan's real goal was to save his daughter's life. The money is just a means to that end. And his internal goal is to prove to his wife and daughter that he loves them so much he'll do anything for them, which sets up an excellent internal struggle. Which is more important to Dan? Helping humanity or saving his beloved daughter? And is there a way he can do both? That's the kind of premise that really hooks a reader.

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