Story Basics

There are five necessary categories that organize every story. The writing of excellent stories
conveys a rich and specific sense of all five.


Storyworld ; Person ; Action ; Storyteller ; Design


These categories are programmed in our DNA: they organize human perception and even have appeals to specific brain areas. Moreover, they represent stages in our experiences as we develop from an in utero being, to being capable of complex associate thought.

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The Closure Cliché Question

We're perceptually predisposed to see or infer closure; it's just in our neurology. You see in reading; half the fun is anticipating the ending: anticipating closure. We like to recognize patterns--- patterns of behavior, patterns of motifs, patterns of goal- seeking---and then to imagine how they continue and complete; that's why we will find the path through the maze, see the image in the stars, or even discover a logical conclusion as we're writing the end of a story. We actually get a pleasurable jet of neurotransmitters bathing our brains when we experience
closure. It could be in a crossword puzzle, in stories, movies, symphonies, after a meal, even after a productive day at work. On a larger scale, recognizing closure helps us assess our lives at year's end, with birthdays, or with memorial ceremonies.

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Answers To Your Memoir Questions

You might ask, "Why "memoir" and not "autobiography"?


A memoir has limits. It's a project or more exactly, the memory of solving a problem in a specific part of life. It's not advice, but confessional, honest; the voice of the teller has an attitude about events and people appropriate to the state of mind at the remembered time. Memoir works by connecting the reader to the lived experience on going problem solving; set aside lessons learned, moral or ethical advice, or grand sermonizing, let the events speak for themselves.

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Five Writing Tips

1. Writing is a habit. Don't wait for inspiration; inspiration is a myth. If you have a habit of writing 4 or 5 times a week, you will finish your projects. Just 15 minutes at a sitting will keep your story cooking on the stove of your pre-conscious imagination. But if you wait for once-a-week
inspiration, you'll find the story-stew has gone cold. Schedule your writing to create a habit and get projects finished. Waiting for inspiration will leave you with inspired beginnings, never finished.

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On Dialog

Dialog is a great way to move scenes along without explaining. Writing good dialog involves increasing activity in the brain areas involved with listening and speaking. If you practice using these areas critically and intentionally—as opposed to your normal habits of listening and speaking—you can stimulate your dialog imagination.

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Write Yourself Better

A protagonist: a person who knows s/he wants something badly enough to fight for it. As working definitions go, that’s not bad; and it’s all about the fight, the effort, the commitment.


If you want to fight for something, you either believe you deserve it or that it’s morally right. If you do fight for something, it's foremost in your intentions; you exert planning, effort, and you will have a defining experience of yourself in real terms. (Reality’s the pay off for every interesting protagonist.)

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Being a Writer, Part One: Small, Doable Changes

As the weather changes, we get energized.

Fall is the best time to introduce a new habit. Since you are reading this, the chances are good you have an intention regarding writing. That is your inner Writer Protagonist calling you to action.

So about that protagonistic intention you have... I’m going to stop you before you say, “to start writing that novel/screenplay/memoir.”

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