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2007 Schedule

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StoryCon 2002 Abstracts Page

More detailed speaker descriptions of their presentations.


Daniel Alegi
(*) CINEMAHEAD.COM is launching this fall.
"Scene Dynamix" is my adaptation and reinterpretation of "Diagonal Dynamics", a script development method created by Leonid & Larissa Alekseychuk.
Scene Dynamix serves 2 key purposes in the scene-writing process.
The first: graphical visualization of the scene. Through the use of a graph, a writer can map each scene's dynamix: time, dramatic relevance, polarity, objectives, sequencing.
The second: recycling of discarded ideas. Storytellers generate many possible plot branchings. Choosing one event as opposed to another means renouncing the other alternatives. One of the most frustrating consequences of such a "competitive" relationship among development options is the slowdown in writing. After a days's work and 10 options, the story may have only progressed by one page.
One of the ideas behind scene dynamix is that opposing ideas are not exclusive. Two ideas that may seem entirely irreconcilable not only are not so, but can become consecutive steps along the dramatic progression along the timeline. To simplify: in creating a diagonal path from point 0=scene start to point Z=climax, a sequence of events is constructed (see workshop proposal for details)
A visual example of a scene dynamix map will support the presentation.
Daniel Alegi
(Hands On, prefer max. 15-20 people, bring one finished scene if available)
In this Workshop we will develop one scene as a group and analyze one scene among those contributed by participants. (i.e. bring a scene that you want to have the workshop work on) The workshop will show answers by developing the scene ONE specific action at a time. Dialogue in this phase is secondary to dynamic action.
How to reach the climax in the richest possible dramatic way?
How not to arrive at the climax too fast?
How to maximize the potential of each event?
How to make something "boring" work, and a "fun" thing not go overboard?
How to recognize writing arbitrary events and organic ones?
How to exploit brainstorming nuggets without waste?
Participants contribute opposing ideas, and all ideas are used or recycled.
None are discarded. The process of expanding individual moments through the
re-use of conflicting ideas is shown graphically and developed to its
maximum potential together.
Daniel Alegi
PO BOX 5332
Santa Monica, Ca
90409 USA
Raised in Rome and educated in the italian school system, he was attracted to music, art, philosophy, classical languages and his grandfather, a sailor whosaid he'd been all around this world. In 1973, Daniel Alegi, was an eight year-old actor in Cinecittà, where he witnessed the making of Fellini¹s ³Amarcord², with the wooden cruise liner, the plastic ocean, a facade-only western-style town with race cars and fake snow three feet tall... But that's another story. Or is it? Daniel's B.A. in International Relations from Brown University (1987) climaxed in this thesis: "Poets, novelists and filmmakers. What role in the outcome of the revolutions in Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, 1959-1981? >From 1988-1993 Daniel studied film directing and screenwriting in Italy with directors Leonid and Larissa Alekseychuk. Daniel's early experience was eclectic. First, spots and news reportage for RAI TV. Then, in 1994, the first short ³The Sax Man² and assisting director Mark Lawrence on a Walt Disney direct-to-video production in Los Angeles. In 1995, he was assistant director to Gianni Zanasi¹s on ³Nella Mischia² (In the Thick of It) a Cannes Festival selection. With the dawning of the digital age, Daniel worked often as a freelance editor and post-production story consultant. In 1998 Daniel received a film MFA from the avantgarde-oriented University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he also was a graduate instructor in film and assisted director James De Paul on multimedia Shakespeare productions. ³Czar Of Make Believe² (23 min., 16 mm, 1998) was an onirical multi-language fiction about 5 immigrants and their midwestern american dreaming. The short, which features a cameo by Mark Borchardt, star of Sundance winner ³American Movie², won "best short film" and "most original narrative" international awards, and traveled to festivals and academic conferences in all continents. Daniel's public presentations would widely range from global cinema topics such as: ³What perspectives for national cultural identities in the global Hollywood landscape?² to the narrative structure issues of: "Image-lingo, abstract heroes and MTV hyper-edits: storytelling from Wilder to wild. " In 1999 Daniel directed in L.A. a CBS production ³NOT HERE². In 2000, italian TV TELEPIU¹ featured Daniel in an episode dedicated to italian directors overseas. Since 2001 Daniel is a visiting professor" in the Culture and Communication Department of the University of Karlstad, Sweden. He also is a Filmmaking instructor in Valencia, California.

In fall 2002, Daniel has curated ³Polyphonix 40², a film exhibit at the Pompidou Museum in Paris, and joined CINEMAHEAD, an innovative glo-cal film studio. CINEMAHEAD completed its fist film production in spring 2002 in Finland and will be on the web this fall. Daniel's upcoming feature ³Catch Wise² is curently seeking further financial support. He lives in S. Monica with Daniela and TV-less kids Nelson (7) and Emma (6).


Plenary talk:
Chakras-seven levels of personality: connecting the inner writer and the outer work:
Steven Barnes
The ancient yogic Chakras represent one of the oldest, and most complete models of the human being in existence, ranging from the mundane to the esoteric. By understanding all seven ascending aspects, it is possible to create phenomenally complex and realistic human characters. Further, by understanding how these seven aspects relate to you and your life, you create an inexhaustible supply of story material.
Workshop Breakout session: 2 hours.
Lifewriting-connecting the inner and outer lives of the writer: 
Steven Barnes
To write well, we must resolve the apparent conflict between plot and characterization, and see how each is a different version of the same thing, like two sides of a coin. Once this is understood, we can use our grasp of plot both to structure books or scripts, and design our lives. We can use our grasp of psychology to sculpt unforgettable characters, and simultaneously promote our growth and healing as human beings and artists. Lifewriting is an advanced tool for writers genuinely committed to both personal and professional advancement, a warrior path for the word-wizard.
Read Steve's latest thriller, CHARISMA, available now!

Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

The Therapeutic use of story as an adjunct in counseling is a powerful technique to reach individuals unconscious material and liberate repressed emotions. Pyschologists and other Health Care practitioners will learn how to change their clients' stories for therapeutic results. These story techniques will give them additional tools to use in the counseling setting which are effective, short term and accessible. They will also learn how to use the therapeutic rewriting of clients’ stories to free them from psychological blocks and enable them to become unstuck in their lives and relationships.


Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

Are you playing a role in an old script written for you by others? Are you sufferings from feelings of anxiety, fear and depression at work or home? Are you stuck in bad relationships and a dead-end career? If the answer is "yes," now is the time to "Change Your Story, Change Your Life." Just like the heroes in popular films, television shows and novels,  will help you learn how to set goals, take risks, overcome obstacles, advance toward fulfilling dreams and remove your masks to become the true central character of your own life.  Through innovative writing exercises and the knowledge of story structure, participants will learn how to deal with unfinished business and dialogue with various voices from the past, who are still running your life without your knowledge. By using the techniques of Story you'll have the tools for experiencing personal growth and transformation, just as the hero in a fictional story. You'll break free of childhood fears, discover how to discard self-defeating behaviors and learn how to set goals, take risks, overcome obstacles, and resolve personal and career conflicts. Discover how to change your problematic victim stories to solution oriented survivor ones to achieve your goals.

(Here is the detailed copy for this workshop, that I believe you wanted)


Rachel Ballon, Ph.D.

All great stories have either extraordinary characters struggling with ordinary conflicts, or ordinary characters in extraordinary conflicts.  To be a successful writer you must know the psychology of characters in conflict.  How does your character behave in his dysfunctional family?  How does your character respond when she's faced with a major conflict?  What do your characters fear and what would they fight for?
Good writers are usually good psychologists, able to look behind their character's mask to understand his or her motivation.  To develop credible characters and compelling conflicts for your stories, you need to understand the nature of characters' dysfunctional relationships, defense mechanisms, personal conflicts, self-defeating behaviors, and inner motivations.  Learn how to employ psychological techniques to avoid stereotypical characters and cliched stories, to create believable characters in real life conflicts, giving your writing a "ring of truth."  

Why is Dorothy Wearing Blue? Color and the Development of  Story.
 Marcie Begleiter
The development of story  requires more than the details of plot and theme. This talk will explore the relationship of color to story and how visualization relates directly to the audience/reader’s understanding of character , setting and action.  Individual psychology,  physiological influences and cultural readings will be covered in this broad approach  to investigating narrative from  the perspective of imagery.




Ray Bergen 

I work with relationships.  Just like all movies are said to draw from five basic plots, relationships have just one—creating romance, and that plot drives most stories.  Every summer one movie becomes a surprise smash hit because it best captures the essence of the core drams every love story reflects.  Whether in public movies or private lives, success hinges on our ability to access this core drama, then draw from the well of its nourishing essence.  And what is the heart of this “Lovers Archetype?”  Simply stated, the meat of the story entails the Hero to undergo a transformation in order to release his Goddess’s love.  These days we hear about Heroes or Goddesses ad nauseam. Separately, their hold on the popular imagination is increasing.  Yet their re-emergence in today’s culture reflects but a shadow of the richness and depth of the power they wield to challenge and transform our world when paired together in their highest expression: as lovers re-enacting the relationship drama.





The Lover’s Archetype and the Four Male and Four Female Energies That Drive Every Love Story

Ray Bergen

For two hours we will explore how the four male energies that make up the male Archetype of  “the Lover” interact with the four energies that complete the female Goddess repertoire.  We will play with how these interactions create the meat and potatoes of the myriad subplots to the one universal relationship drama.   And we will answer the question, “What are these forces doing controlling our relationship stories, anyway?”



The Essence Of Story
James Bonnet
What are the fundamentals that drive all great stories? In this pre-conference talk I will describe the threat and its relation to the seven critical elements which constitute the very essence of story -- that without which there would be no story.
The New Story-Self Connection: Intriguing New Patterns Discovered in Great Stories Reveal the Secrets of the Human Mind
James Bonnet
 In the plenary talk, workshops and post conference seminar, I will put forth new ideas concerning the nature and purpose of story, the creative unconscious, the meaning of metaphor and myth, and the art of storymaking. I will introduce participants to a new story model called The Golden Paradigm which is also a model of the human psyche and was brought to light by intriguing new patterns discovered hidden in great stories. These new patterns reveal all of the psychic dimensions, their structure, their hierarchy, their conflicts and their goals. The psychological model becomes a story model when it is used to create new stories. Together they will teach storymakers how to create contemporary stories that are significantly more successful and real. They will reveal important new details concerning how the conscious and creative unconscious minds can interact to form a creative partnership which is applicable, not only to storymaking, but to many different art forms, and can bring powerful inner resources to light.

A knowledge of story and the act of storymaking are essential links in a creative process that can reconnect us to our lost or forgotten inner selves. An understanding of story leads inevitably to an understanding of these dormant inner states and to a perception of the path which can lead us back to who we were really meant to be. In short, a vast, unrealized potential exists within us which a  knowledge of story and storymaking can help to make real.

The secrets of great stories, it turns out, are the secrets of the human mind and the study of story is the study of this remarkable phenomenon. Every great story reveals some small piece of that magnificent mystery. Unlocking the secrets of story unlocks the secrets of the mind and awakens the power of story within you. Work with that power and you can steal fire from the gods. Master that power and you can create stories that will live forever.

Exploring the Dark side: The Anti-Hero’s Journey  
James Bonnet
In this workshop, we will explore the nature of evil, the great characters it can inspire, and the lesser known, uncharted dark side of the passage, the place in story and real life where the dark forces live and hatch their nefarious schemes. I will also introduce you to the new story model, the Golden Paradigm, which reveals the  transformation of the hero into an anti-hero, and all of the life cycles we experience from birth to death. When you understand these patterns and cycles, you will not only to be able to create better stories, you will understand why the struggle between good and evil is the dominant pattern in great stories and why it is playing such a significant role in our lives.
PLenary :
Steve Denning
In his work with executives in large organizations, Steve Denning has seen how easily and quickly people can enhance their natural storytelling capacity, once they grasp that storytelling is not some kind of primitive toy that needs to be replaced by the sleek computer-guided instruments of modern analytical thinking. Storytelling is in fact at the core of the activities of every modern corporation, as well as at the center of everything we do in public and private life. The ability to tell the right story at the right time is emerging as an essential management skill to cope with and get business results in the turbulent world of the 21st century.
This practical and inspiring presentation shows how to use purposeful storytelling to achieve organizational objectives. In addition to providing a theoretical framework for understanding the power of stories, it provides
helpful examples, templates, guidelines and other tips for using storytelling in the real world of organizational life.
Steve Denning's book The Springboard was about how storytelling could address the #1 problem in business today, namely how to get an organization to transform itself, willingly, enthusiastically and quickly. It showed how
a springboard story could be very effective in tackling this central business challenge.
The presentation will give examples of springboard stories and show how storytelling can address six other central business challenges facing organizations today, namely:
· How can you weave groups of different individuals together so that they work as teams or communities?
· How can you induce people to share their knowledge when they suspect that the object of the exercise was to render them expendable?
· What can you do when a huge negative rumor gets going?
· How can you preserve and enhance the good values of an organization and transfer them to new recruits?
· How can you get people to know the person you truly were and not just another suit?
· How can you lead people into the future so that they were keen to follow?
The presentation will show the the different narrative patterns related to each purpose, with practical guidance and tips on using narrative to achieve management objectives.
CV: Steve Denning is the author of the acclaimed book, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations (Butterworth Heinemann, 2000) which describes how storytelling can serve as a powerful tool for organizational change and knowledge management.
From 1996 to 2000, Steve was the Program Director, Knowledge Management at the World Bank where he spearheaded the organizational knowledge sharing program. He now works with organizations in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia on knowledge management and organizational storytelling. Steve also conducts workshops around the world on organizational storytelling. Steve is currently working on a new book about the seven highest value forms of organizational storytelling. In November 2000, Steve Denning was selected as one of the world’s ten Most Admired Knowledge Leaders (Teleos) along with Jack Welch (GE) and John Chambers (CISCO). Steve’s website which has a collection of materials on knowledge sharing and storytelling may be found at:
Steve was born and educated in Sydney, Australia. He studied law and psychology at Sydney University and worked as a lawyer in Sydney for several years. He did a postgraduate degree in law at Oxford University in the U.K.   Steve then joined the World Bank where he worked for several decades in many capacities and held various management positions, including Director of the Southern Africa Department from 1990 to 1994 and Director of the Africa Region from 1994 to 1996. From 1996 to 2000, Steve was the Program Director, Knowledge Management at the World Bank. Steve is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (U.K.) He has published a novel and a volume of poetry.
Contact information:
Steve Denning
4515 Klingle Street NW
Washington DC 20016
tel 202 966 9392
fax 202 686 0591
email steve@stevedenning.com
web www.stevedenning.com
Intro To Story  preconference talk(20 min.)
Personal Stories/Sacred Stories – Is There A Difference?
Karen Dietz
In this Intro to Story presentation Karen Dietz will explore the similarities and differences between personal stories and sacred stories.  While not all personal stories are sacred stories, some can be, and Dr. Dietz will clearly identify what makes a personal story a sacred one. Each one of us has stories to tell that impart wisdom, knowledge and a little secret of life that we’ve discovered.  Discovering what our sacred stories are and how to tell them well will allow us to shape and create a sustainable and inspiring future.  She will talk about her experiences as a story coach to senior executives, why many of their stories turn into sacred stories, how these sacred stories affect the people and organizations in which they reside.
Plenary Talk)
Personal Stories as Sacred Stories -- Embarking on Powerful Quests to Consciously Shape the Future
Karen Dietz
Today we have a deep hunger for certain kinds of stories. In this Plenary Session, Karen Dietz will delve more deeply into the nature of personal and sacred stories, sharing with the audience what she has learned about sacred stories from North American Indian storytellers, her experiences coaching executives and how the two converge. Specifically Karen will talk about the nature of sacred stories from the Chippewa-Cree perspective, how different archetypes and journeys come into play other than the Hero, and the cultural changes that are happening that make it necessary for telling these kinds of stories today. In addition, Dr. Dietz will address how our sacred stories need to be treated, and the wonderful outcomes that emerge while telling personal sacred stories.  She will share with the audience a few paths for turning personal experience stories into sacred stories, and also discuss the implications of doing so – personally, professionally and for our culture. 
 Workshop (2 hrs.)
Personal Stories/Sacred Stories – What Are Your Messages the World Needs To Hear?
Karen Dietz
In this workshop, Karen Dietz will lead participants through the experience of taking? one or two personal experience stories and turning them into sacred stories.  There will be lots of discussion about what participants observe, experience, and the difference telling their stories as sacred stories could make in their world.  Toward the end of this workshop we’ll talk about the patterns of messages and themes that have emerged, and create a diagram of the types of stories we need to be telling ourselves and each other in order to create an inspiring future.  By the end of this workshop, each participant will walk away with at least one sacred story they can tell, they will know how their stories fit into the grander picture of stories that need to be told today, and they will have the tools to transform their other stories into sacred stories.
How to Create Powerful Stories to Make Your Sales Copy Irresistible
David Garfinkel 
This one's different -- it's about using stories as part of your pitch, whether you're selling another story, a seminar, a service -- or anything else using the written word.

People naturally resist a sales pitch, but few can resist a powerful story, well told.  If you market yourself, your products, or your services on the Web or in print, you will notice a marked increase in response when you include powerful sales stories.

While story itself is universal in scope and subject, the types of stories that work well in sales copy are, by the nature of the medium, related to what you're selling.  In this workshop, we'll walk through the three types of stories that make people want to buy, and look at the sales story themes that push the buttons of desire in your prospects.

If you sell:
* seminars
* screenplays
* information on the Web
* services
* business-to-business offers

Then you will benefit from this workshop by learning how to incorporate your love of story and your already-developed storytelling skills into your sales copy.

You'll also learn key and rarely revealed "tricks of the trade" in wording your copy to gently make people reading it more receptive to what you have to say.

“Stories that Can Change the World”
Thom Hartmann
Culture is best defined as a collective unconscious conspiracy to believe and act on a specific (and unique) collection of stories about who we are and why we must behave the way we do.  Although these stories seem static and immutable, in fact they’re often fluid and transitional: for example, the story that was held for over six millennia that it’s appropriate to hold slaves, which broke down rapidly (culturally speaking) in the past two centuries in the developed world.  In this talk, Thom Hartmann explores a set of stories that are still very much a part of our or of worldwide culture but are essentially toxic, and presents healthy alternative stories that are now emerging into public consciousness.  By attending to these cultural fulcrum-points, authors of both fiction and non-fiction can both increase the vitality of their work and become subtle agents of cultural transformation.
Plenary talk:
“Story as the Deepest Level of Non-Fiction”  
Thom Hartmann
Non-fiction is almost always written as a way of informing and inspiring.  Although some non-fiction contains clear calls to action (self-help, diet, how-to), much seems to lack a call for action (biography, history, science).  At its core, though, Hartmann suggests that all non-fiction is grounded in story, with story-like structure, and an implicit call for action.  This talk explores the meta-structure of non-fiction and the importance of finding the story within your nonfiction before and as you write it, so it’ll have maximal impact and value to your readers and the greatest potential to become a best-seller.
“Using the tools of NLP to construct crisp, clear, and solid writing”
Thom Hartmann attributes much of the success of his best-selling books to a writing style which makes real for readers otherwise didactic information, bringing to life the clear vision of his message, helping them understand its story, and giving them the sensory experience of his examples.  In this workshop, he shares with writers the tools of communication derived from NLP which are now so powerfully used by Madison Avenue…and can help transform your next novel or work of non-fiction into a best-seller by dramatically ramping up the impact, power, and clarity of your words.
Thom Hartmann is an award-winning best-selling author, international lecturer, teacher, and psychotherapist. His books have been written about in Time magazine, and he has appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, and on numerous radio and TV shows including "All Things Considered," CNN, and BBC.  A former journalist, international relief worker, and the executive director of a residential treatment facility for abused children, he now lives in Vermont where he is a guest faculty member at Goddard College and fulltime writerplenary talk (not taped)

The Expectations of Genre

Neill D. Hicks

A good storyteller uses linguistic sleight‑of‑hand to create a bond of trust with the audience by keeping the fabrications of fiction contained just inside the boundaries of a particular genre.  If the consistency is broken, the Cosmos of Credibility is ruptured, and the audience loses not only its belief in the special reality of the narrative, but its trust in the storyteller as well.  However, because there are no universally accepted classifications of genre, popular entertainment frequently offers incoherent narratives that distort genre definitions into meaningless hyperbole. 

The Genre Continuum sorts stories into the fundamental elements that contribute to the Cosmos of Credibility, rather than by the immediately evident razzle‑dazzle of surface characteristics.  These distinct genres are then positioned in a specific sequence determined by how the main character acts to resolve the core challenge of the story and how that action changes the society contained within the context of movie.  In the Genre Continuum scheme, each successive genre has an expanding influence on the society that contains its story in direct proportion to the degree of lethal threat that the main character suffers.  The greater the risk that the main character will die, the more there is at stake not only for that character but for the surrounding characters, up to and including an entire culture or way of life.

2 hour workshop (not taped)

The Essentials of Action- Adventure and Thriller Writing

Lecture / Discussion with Neill D. Hicks

The Action-Adventure and Thriller genres are often confused because they each contain many similar surface elements.  However, there are very basic underlying differences between the two forms, including the Bounded World, the Ethos of the leading characters, the Narrative Trajectory, and the Timescape that make up the Cosmos of Credibility which encompasses the audience.  The Action‑Adventure wins us over by  enabling each of us to vicariously fulfill our destinies as the moral champions we would be if only we could.  The Thriller, on the other hand,  plunges us by proxy of the main character into overwhelming panic and loss of reality until, like life itself, we grow in order to subdue some primordial fear.  Discover the essential distinctions between these two popular story forms in this lecture/discussion with the leading industry expert in defining film genres.


Intro To Story Pre-conference talk.
How Stories Provide Us A Map Of Human Psychology And The Problem-Solving
Chris Huntley
ABSTRACT: One of the unique concepts that sets Dramatica apart from other
theories is the assertion that every complete story is a model of the mind's
problem solving process. We call this model the "Story Mind." This Story
Mind does not work like a computer, performing one operation after another
until the solution is obtained. Rather, it works more holistically, like our
own minds, bringing many conflicting considerations to bear on an issue. It
is the author's argument as to the relative value of these considerations in
solving a particular problem that gives a story its meaning.
To make his case, an author must examine all significant approaches to
resolving the story's specific problem. If a part of the argument is left
out, the story will have holes. If the argument is not made in an
even-handed fashion, the story will have inconsistencies.
Characters, Plot, Theme, and Genre are the different families of
considerations in the Story Mind made tangible, so audience members can see
them at work and gain insight into their own methods of solving problems.
Characters represent the motivations of the Story Mind (which often work at
cross purposes and come into conflict). Plot documents the problem solving
methods employed by the Story Mind. Theme examines the relative worth of the
Story Mind's value standards. Genre establishes the Story Mind's overall
attitude, which casts a bias or background on all other considerations.
When a story is fully developed, the model of the Story Mind is complete.
Reaching Your Audience: Compelling Story Choices that Affect an Audience's
Emotional Involvement in a Story
Chris Huntley
Eight Essential Questions Every Author Should Know About Their Story
Chris Huntley
This workshop benefits greatly from the availability of projection video
(VCR and LCD projector), or if it's a small group a large TV with VCR will
do. I have many filmic examples to illustrate each of the eight questions
and the possible choices.
StoryCon 2002
Conference Workshop
Eight Essential Questions All Authors Should Know About Their Stories
Speaker:  Chris Huntley
Based on a theory and materials developed by
Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley
Definitions: *
Main Character (MC)
The character through whose eyes the audiences experiences the story
Traditionally, the exploration of the Main Character's "problem" is called the Main Character's "character arc."
Impact Character (IC)
The character whose alternative world view impacts the Main Character to such a degree that the Main Character must address the Main Character's own personal issues.  An Impact Character need not be aware of his or her impact on the Main Character or others. 
Traditionally, Impact Characters tend to be role models, competitors, mentors, or love interests.
A sequence of story points within a single perspective, such as the Main Character throughline of the Impact Character throughline.
Throughlines represent different perspectives on the source of conflict within a story.  They are called throughlines because, generally speaking, they extend “through” the story from the first act to the last.
Eight Essential Questions
1.       Main Character Resolve: Change or Steadfast?
2.       Main Character Growth: Stop or Start?
3.       Main Character Approach: Do-er or Be-er?
4.       Main Character Problem Solving Style: Logical or Intuitive?
5.       Story Driver: Actions or Decisions?
6.       Story Limit: Timelock or Optionlock?
7.       Story Outcome: Success or Failure?
8.       Story Judgment: Good or Bad?

1.  Main Character Resolve:  Change or Steadfast?
Does your Main Character Change his way of dealing with the problem at the heart of the story (such as Ebeneezer Scrooge's switch to generosity in A Christmas Carol) or remain Steadfast in his convictions (such as the innocent Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive)?
At the core of the MC throughline is an inequity.  This is the source of personal conflict for the MC -- the MC's problem, so to speak.
·         One way of imparting meaning to your audience is by exploring how your MC's position on resolving this inequity develops over the course of the story.
·         This is sometimes mistakenly called the MC arc or the MC change.
·         In Dramatica, we call this the Main Character Resolve.
·         The question is, will the MC hold onto his original way of responding to his inequity by the end of the story, or will he exchange it for a new one?
·         In short, does the MC Change or remain Steadfast?
·         Video Clips:  Examples of Change Main Characters:  Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Judah Rosenthal in Crimes and Misdemeanors, Luke in Star Wars.
·         Video Clips:  Examples of Steadfast Main Characters:  Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, James Bond in Goldfinger (Pussy Galore is the Impact Character).
Sometimes meaning comes from growing into your resolve and remaining steadfast.
Sometimes meaning comes from growing out of your resolve and changing.
Q:  How do we know the value of remaining steadfast in a story?
A:  We must see the effects and results of changing are by contrast.
Q:  How do we know what to change TO?
A:  The Impact Character provides the counterpoint to the MC Resolve by providing the other side of the argument.
·         If the MC Changes, the IC will remain Steadfast.
·         If the MC remains Steadfast, the IC will Change.
In this way we not only show how the MC's response to his inequity develops, but it's alternative response as explored by the IC.
·         Sometimes the MC Resolve shifts quickly -- Leap of Faith
·         Sometimes the MC Resolve shifts slowly -- Non-Leap of Faith

2.  Main Character Growth:  Stop or Start?
Does your Main Character grow by adopting a new useful trait (Start) or by outgrowing an old inappropriate one (Stop)?
The MC Resolve seems to focus on the results of the MC's response to his inequity.
The part of Dramatica that focuses on the MC's "character arc" is called the Main Character Growth.
Like any well constructed argument, you must build to your conclusions -- you can't just jump right to the end and expect anyone to accept it.
·         You need to "show your work"
·         The same is true for your Main Character.
Q:  If a character has a problem, why doesn't he just solve it?
A:  He must go through the process of growth that gets him to a position where he can see the problem for what it is and deal with it directly and appropriately.
The MC Growth describes the type of growth needed to bring the MC to the point where we can definitively tell whether the MC has changed or remained steadfast.
·         Is the nature of the MC Growth toward starting something or toward stopping something?
·         Does the MC need to Stop or Start?  Grow out of or grow into?
·         Video Clip:  Example of Stop Main Character:  Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive.
·         Video Clip:  Example of Start Main Character:  Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
3.  Main Character Approach:  Do-er or Be-er?
Is your Main Character a Be-er who mentally adapts to his environment(such as Rick Blaine in Casablanca) or a Do-er who physically changes his environment (such as John McClane in Die Hard)?
How does the Main Character prefer to solve his problems, through external work or through internal work?
·         Video Clip:  Example of Do-er Main Character:  Harry in Dirty Harry.
·         Video Clip:  Example of Be-er Main Character:  William Munny in Unforgiven.

4.  Main Character Problem Solving Style:  Logical or Intuitive?
Does your Main Character use a Logical problem solving style (such as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs) or an Intuitive problem solving style (such as Tom Wingo in The Prince of Tides)?
Does the Main Character fundamentally tend to see things linearly or holistically?
·         Video Clips:  Example of problem solving styles reversed as compared to expectations based on gender roles:  Agents Mulder and Scully in The X Files.
·         Video Clips:  Example of intuitive problem solving style in a male Main Character:  Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October.
5.  Story Driver:  Action or Decision?
Is the overall story driven by Actions first (such as the time travelers arriving in The Terminator) or Decisions first (such as Daniel Hillard's decision to impersonate a woman in Mrs. Doubtfire)?
Which takes precedence over the other in driving the plot, do Actions drive decisions or do Decisions drive actions?
One way to determine the Story Driver is to look at the act turns.
Another way to determine the Story Driver is to look for an inciting event that "starts" the story.  This should be matched by a concluding event that wraps up the story.
The inciting event, concluding event, and act turn events should all be of the same nature -- either driven by Actions or driven by Decisions/deliberations.
·         Video Clips:  Example of Action driven stories:  Jaws, Star Wars.
·         Video Clip:  Example of Decision driven stories:  The Godfather.

6. Story Limit:  Timelock or Optionlock?
 Is your overall story brought to its climax by running out of Time (such as the 18 days to save the earth in Armageddon) or by running out of Options (such as the detectives trying to stop a serial killer from completing his mission of killing seven victims in a manner consistent with the seven deadly sins in SE7EN [Seven])?
The "size" or scope of the story is determined by some form of limit.  Even though the limit may seem to be artificial when seen from the outside, it is -- by definition -- essential to the story.
Q:  What happens when this limit is met?
A:  Reaching the limit indicates or brings about the climax of the story—the climax being the final attempt to resolve the Overall Story's inequity.
Story Limit:  Timelock or Optionlock
What brings your story to a climax, running out of time or running out of options?
A Timelock can take several forms:
·         A specific deadline, such as 8:30 AM Friday morning.
·         A specific duration of time, such as 24 hours.
An Optionlock can take several forms:
·         A specific number of options, such as three wishes.
·         A specific set of conditions, such as the alignment of the planets.
·         Video Clips:  Example of Timelock stories:  48 Hrs., High Noon.
·         Video Clip:  Example of Optionlock stories:  The Verdict.
7.  Story Outcome:  Success or Failure?
Do your character's efforts to achieve the overall story goal result in Success (such as killing the shark in Jaws) or Failure (such as not being able to open the dinosaur theme park in Jurassic Park)?
The Story Outcome is a simple assessment of whether or not the Story Goal is achieved.
·         If the Story Goal is achieved, then the outcome is a Success.
·         If the Story Goal is not achieved, the outcome is a Failure.
This evaluation of the Story Goal is completely unbiased and non-judgmental.  There isn't any room for SHOULD the goal have been achieved, or COULD the goal have been achieved, just WAS/IS the goal achieved.
     Outcome:  Success or Failure
Is the Story Goal reached or not?
8.  Story Judgment:  Good or Bad?
Does the Main Character resolve his personal problems and feel Good (such as Luke finally trusting his skills in Star Wars) or not resolve them and feel Bad (such as Clarice Starling still being haunted by her childhood memories in The Silence of the Lambs)?
Similar to the Story Goal, but focused more on the Main Character is the question of the Story Judgment.
While wrestling with his personal issues, the MC will either hold on steadfastly to his world view, or go through a significant paradigm shift and change his world view.
The question is whether or not this changing or holding onto his world view resolves his central inequity.
·         If it resolves the inequity, then the judgment is deemed Good.
·         If it does not resolve the inequity and he remains angst ridden, then the judgment is deemed Bad.
Judgment:  Good or Bad
Does the Main Character work out his angst or not?
What is interesting about the Story Outcome and the Story Judgment are how they work independently to provide meaning to the story argument, yet also work together to create additional meaning for the audience.
Outcome:  Success
Outcome:  Failure
Judgment:  Good
Personal Triumph
Judgment:  Bad
Personal  Tragedy
·         Video Clip:  Example of Failure/Bad stories:  Hamlet.
·         Video Clips:  Example of Success/Bad stories:  Remains of the Day, The Silence of the Lambs.
·         Video Clip:  Example of Failure/Good stories:  Rain Man.
·         Video Clip:  Example of Success/Good stories:  Star Wars.
Story Driver:  Action
Story Driver:  Decision
MC Approach:  Doer
or Eager
or Unwilling
MC Approach: 
or Unwilling
or Eager
MC Problem Solving Technique/Story Limit
Dramatica can give you a sense of how your audience might react to the main character in your story. 
The following is a gross generalization of your audience's likelihood to empathize with your MC based on the individual audience members gender.
Story Limit:  Optionlock
Story Limit: Timelock
Problem Solving:  Logical
Both women and men are likely to identify (empathize) with the MC
Men are likely to identify (empathize) with the MC.  Women will not.
Problem Solving: 
Women are likely to identify (empathize) with the MC.  Men will not.
Neither women nor men are likely to identify (empathize) with the MC

* These definitions are based on concepts found in the book, “Dramatica: A New Theory of Story.”  Dramatica is a theory of story developed by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley, as well as a software program based on many of the theory’s concepts and algorithms.


the Anatomy of Positive Experience

Positive experiences are the basic building block of the ability to be happy, inner strengths, perseverance, positive attitude, the capacity to love... This presentation discusses a temporal model of an anatomy of positive experience and explores the possiblity that the same pattern that exists for positive experiences may apply to story as well.

Rob Kall

Plenary: Touching the heart; Heart warming as a Verb; milking the human tear duct and pulling heart strings. Rob Kall
Pre-conf: (40 min).
Joseph Campbell, Storyteller
Stephen and Robin Larsen
In this brief excursion into notable mythologist's inner creative workshop, the Larsens explain how Campbell was guilty of just what religion professor Wendy Doniger accused him of: "Revelling in the Myths". From Campbell's early romance with Native American stories, in his life, Campbell literally climbed a ladder of narratives from the Paleolithic shamans to James Joyce.
Learn how myth informs and instructs creativity, and the background to the spellbinding scholar-bard who appears in the Bill Moyers interviews.

The Four Winds of the Goddess
Stephen and Robin Larsen
The original of this marvelous African fable is told in the Song of the Stars, the book of stories of a great African holy man, Vusumazulu Credo Mutwa, edited by Stephen Larsen. In a mythic re-enactment using masks crafted by Robin Larsen, the story is told of the beautiful fertility goddess Nomkumbulwana to the depths of the earth where she is ensorcelled and held by her evil sister Nomhoyi. The birds convene a parliament and create magical tornadoes that rescue the goddess. the Larsens discuss both the ancient myths and the use of masks in mythmaking.

Workshop: (2 hours)
The Masks of Creative Mind
Stephen and Robin Larsen
Starting from William Butler Yeats' marvelous A Vision, the Larsens explore how four principles, Will, Mask, Creative Mind and Body of Fate supervene in all dramas. Understanding this mythic structure, the participant is invited to develop a story using this Hermetic structure. In particular the Larsens focus on the role of Mask in Imagination, and its effect on Creative mind. Participants will be invited to speak in "The Voice of the Dreamtime,." and both analyze and create tales using this method.

Stephen and Robin Larsen have been lecturing and giving workshops together in the United States and internationally since the 1970's. The focus of their work is on personal mythology, shamanism, relationship and the creative imagination, which they explore through the medium of their own male-female dialogue. The Larsens are co-directors of the Center for Symbolic Studies, a not-for-profit educational and personal growth center in the Hudson Valley of New York.
Stephen Larsen, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Psychology (SUNY). He currently directs Stone Mountain Counseling Center and Neurofeedback Services, which provides both psychotherapy and biofeedback, specializing in disorders of the nervous system. He is the author of The Shaman's Doorway (Harper and Row 1976, Station Hill 1988, and Inner Traditions 1999)--still in print after 26 years; The Mythic Imagination (Bantam 1990, Inner Traditions 1998); and he joined his wife Robin as editors of Emanuel Swedenborg: A Continuing Vision (Swedenborg Foundation 1988). For more than twenty years students and friends of the late mythologist Joseph Campbell, the Larsens co-authored his biography, A Fire in the Mind (Doubleday 1991, and Inner Traditions 2002); as well as The Fashioning of Angels (Chrysalis 2000). Stephen is also the editor of Swedenborg's Spiritual Psychology (Swedenborg Foundation 1989), Song of the Stars: The Lore of a Zulu Shaman with Credo Mutwa (Station Hill and Inner Traditions), and Forest of Visions with Alex Polari de Alverga (Inner Traditions).
Robin Larsen, Ph.D., is an artist, maker of assemblages and masks; and an art historian specializing in comparative iconography and ritual art. Her artwork is exhibited regularly and is included in numerous collections and published books. She directs the performance and festivals programs, and the outdoor adventure programs for youth at the center at the Center for Symbolic Studies, at the She is currently working with Stephen on An Alchemical Angel, a book of her artwork and his poetry. You can find out more about the Larsen's work at
their website mythmind.com or mythmind.org; or through the Center for Symbolic Studies, 845-658-8540; or Stone
Mountain Counseling Center.
Pitching Through Story: Oral Communication Skills for the Very Important Presentation
Doug Lipman
When you need to make an oral pitch in a short time, you naturally pay attention to every word. But what about the non-verbal aspects of your communication? In this workshop, I'll teach you to maximize the impact of your presentation, including words, non-verbal oral communication elements, and an overall concern for speaking in a way that stimulates your listeners to imagine. You'll learn a framework for developing oral material, engaging all the senses, finding the key images that spark your listeners' imaginations, and learning to integrate all these in a story-based presentation that supports your key purpose. Whether you're looking to pitch a screenplay, gain a colleague's cooperation, or interpret a quarterly report to those who work for you, you'll gain a new awareness of how to communicate any idea or vision infectiously.
Pre-conf Intro to Story Title:
The Six Properties of Oral Storytelling Doug Lipman
Oral storytelling is its own art form. It has much in common with other narrative arts, but has distinct properties. Understanding these properties allows you to use oral storytelling to its best advantage and sheds light on other forms of narrative, as well. In this short presentation, you'll not only learn the essential qualities of oral storytelling, you'll learn to avoid the five most frequent pitfalls that await the beginning storyteller.
Plenary Session:
Emptying the Story Reed
Doug Lipman
Subtitle: A Process for Accessing the Effortless Source of Story Images
Stories are composed primarily of images - visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, etc. Many story creators begin with an image, then undertake the long "slogging" process of building a shaped story around it
But what if we let the "image-making" part of our minds stay in charge much longer into the process? What if we allow the story to remain in the changable realm of imagination, until the entire story has been imagined?

For the last year, I've been experimenting with a process for radically submitting myself to the direction that my "imagery mind" chooses. The result? Original stories that seem to exhibit more vitality with less effort.

My process has four basic parts. The first three parts require a listener or "witness." First, I "set an intention" for the imagery session. For example, I may say to myself, "I would like a Hasidic (Jewish mystical) story." Or, "I intend to receive images that will suggest a title for my screenplay."

Second, I allow images to enter my mind. During this part, I follow five "rules": 1. I say nothing until an image (in any sensory mode) comes to me. 2. I accept and describe - aloud - every image that comes. 3. If any thoughts or feelings seem to be crowding out the images, I may have brief "tantrums" (i.e., shorter than one minute), during which I complain about the images I've received, the process, etc. 4. I do not analyze the images; I only describe them. 5. I allow new images to "overwrite" previous ones. If I imagine a scene happening one way and then later imagine it happening another way, I allow the second image to replace or revise the first. Third, I ask my listener for verbal appreciations of the images I described aloud. I may also ask my listener, "What part of the story would you like to experience more of?"

I repeat these first three steps, often over multiple sessions, until my original intention seems fulfilled. Finally, I apply my usual processes for turning images into a rough draft, then into successive revisions.

I have taught this process to people creating poems and business scenarios, as well as stories. I hope to learn its pitfalls and limitations as well as its further applications. I also hope to learn how to teach it to people with a variety of learning and writing styles.

In the end, this process involves choosing a "reed" of intention that I point in a chosen direction. Then I follow simple rules to empty that reed so that it can be a conduit for the easy flow of images.

Dis-covering Story: finding the source of creativity.
 Sharon Maas
Where do stories originate? Why do some stories fall flat, while others draw you into them from the very first word or scene? Why do some characters feel like cardboard, while others walk right off the page or screen, and into your heart? How can you, as a storyteller, create worlds that seem so real the “real” world disappears?

These are the questions I will try to answer in this workshop. I believe that the very best stories are not constructed by the conscious mind, but created unconsciously in the depths of the mind. That there is an innate intelligence in us that can piece together all the elements that make a story which not only works technically, but  sparkles with that ineffable Factor X – a magic story. This is natural storytelling.

 Natural storytellers are people who can access that source of creativity at will.  Stories seem to flow out of their fingertips, out of their hearts, and captivate their readers or their audiences.

We say that such people have a gift for storytelling – that they are born with it. I believe that there’s more to it than that. I believe that whereas the source of creativity is latent in us all, most of us have simply not learned to access it., or have forgotten how to do so.

I believe it is possible to consciously understand the creative process, and consciously access the unconscious.

If you feel the urge to tell stories, if you feel that wonderful stories that are all locked up within you and that all that is missing is some kind of a magic formula, an open sesame, which will get them to start flowing out, then this workshop is for you. I can’t give you a magic formula, but I can help you break the barriers that keep you from your own magic. For I have been through it all, and have a lot to share.

As a child, telling stories seemed second nature to me. I was writing fiction when I was eight; there was nothing I loved better! I was one of those children who could sit looking out the window for hours, lost in exciting worlds far away from the boring  here-and-now. I was brought to my senses by my elders, and lost it – for many decades, no more stories came, for reality had taken over.  And I was desperately unhappy with that reality.

However, my time was not wasted, for I was learning. I travelled to India, and lived in an Ashram. I learned meditation. I learned to still the mind. I learned to plunge in beneath the surface, and find the treasures buried there. And finally, in my late forties, those stories began to emerge – fully formed in spirit, ready to be crafted - by the conscious, rational mind - into workable, well-structured, publishable novels. Novels with the potential, as it turned out, to be best-sellers.

I would like to share some of what I have learned with you. With a minimum of theory and a maximum of practical, easy, exercises, you will find out some of the secrets of tapping the unconscious mind. You will learn to link your creative mind to your writing hand. You will learn, that, as Dorothea Brande (Becoming a Writer) put it, “There is a magic to writing”… and that that magic is learnable. 

Topic Maps for Story Telling
Jack Park
Like the index of a book, topic maps provide a navigation tool for locating elements in a story. Beyond the simple indexical functions of a book's index, topic maps provide tools which enable the description of relationships between the enumerated topics. Topic maps, like the index of a book, are created "above" the information resources -- the content of the book or story. The talk will sketch the architecture of a topic map in the context of stories.
Introduction to Augmented Story Telling
Jack Park
Think of story telling as the presentation of interrelated threads or ideas. Think of the interaction of listeners, those who experience the story as it unfolds. Augmented Story Telling is a process that is inspired by notions expressed by Douglas Engelbart in his quest to augment the collective IQ of humans working to solve complex, urgent problems. This process is facilitated by the existence of two conceptual spaces, one in which the story is told, and another in which elements of the story are discussed and argued. Both spaces are linked to facilitate navigation between context (the story) and argument. The talk will sketch the architecture of an augmented story telling space.
Pre-conference talk:
The Story Mind: Using Psychology to Structure Your Story
Melanie Anne Phillips

The Story Mind model of story structure is not just a theoretical curiosity.  In fact, it is a practical tool for generating ideas, building the dramatic foundation of a story, finding structural holes and inconsistencies, and filling and fixing those problems.  The Story Mind model can be used either before writing to create a completely detailed dramatic blueprint or framework, or it can be used after a draft has been written to find and refine the structure already partially formed in the work.

This presentation, will provide tips, tricks, techniques, and tools for story development, explore the nature and components of the Story Mind Model, and outline the full extent of the scope and usefulness of this new way of thinking about stories.

Plenary Talk:
Beyond the Story Mind: Reflecting Story Structure Back on our World
 Melanie Anne Phillips
Story structure not only teaches us about ourselves, but about the way our minds work.  Using the Story Mind model of structure, we can go a step further and filter our own mental processes out of our perspective of the universe to discover patterns previously hidden behind our own point of view.
2 Hour Workshop:
The Story Mind:  Exploring the Model of Psychology Hidden in Story Structure.
 Melanie Anne Phillips
Every Story has a mind of its own - its own personality; its own psychology.  A story’s personality is developed through an author’s subject matter and style, but it’s psychology is determined by its underlying dramatic structure.  Structure is the carrier wave on which the passionate program is transmitted from author to audience.  When it is done properly, it is invisible.  But when it is flawed it adds static and can even prevent transmission of the program altogether.

 The Story Mind model of story structure was developed over a 15 year period.  It is unique in that it goes beyond seeing individual characters as having their own psychologies and proposes that the story has a psychology of its own, as if it were a single, thinking entity itself.

 Structurally, characters are seen as facets of the Story Mind - its conflicting drives or motivations, theme is explored as the Story Mind’s troubled value standards, plot describes the problem solving methods of the mind externalized and made tangible, and Genre explore the overall outlook or perspective of each story’s particular mind.

 This workshop outlines the components of the Story Mind Model of structure, how they interrelate, and the dynamic forces that wind up the dramatic tension of a story.

The Hollywood Film as American Dream; Greek Mythic Tragedy vs. Bible Hero Success
Ashraf Ramzy
Molenweg , 1182 CK Amstelveen, P.O. Box 271, 1180 AG Amstelveen, Netherlands
T +31 (0) 20 641 7191  F +31(0) 20 641 4006  M 0621 548 962
E aramzy@narrativity.net     www.narrativity.net

“We live in a Credocracy. A system where belief governs our actions. Stories are the currency of belief. And therefore it is vital we understand the stories we tell, especially those we tell on a global scale. Hence my interest, not in the cinema of the Ukraine or even that of India, but in the Hollywood Narrative System. Hollywood tells Stories that touch people everywhere. Why? How? My personal quest within Narratology is to understand how Hollywood tells it Story, and what Story it tells in the first place. This voyage of discovery led me through 2500 years of dramatic structure; from Aristotle to Field, from Brunetiere to McKee.

I learned that structure is the story of the story; or how the Mythology reveals itself. I saw how Dutch Filmmakers who imposed Hollywood Narrative Structure (Field et al) still told European Stories. And experienced first hand how the American Story and the European Story are fundamentally different. I learned stories do not exist in a vacuum but that they form part of a greater network of stories a society attaches great value to, believes in, aspires to, identifies with.

French Film theorists and narratologists would have us belief that Hollywood re-enacts Freudian psychoanalytical i.e. Oedipal patterns. I believe that the Hollywood film is rooted in and an expression of an underlying belief system, or a Mythology, that we refer to as  “the American Dream”. There we have to comparative sets: the Dramatic Structure and Mythology of Greek Tragedy versus the Dramatic Structure and Mythology of the Hollywood Film.

The conclusion of my comparative analysis of the American Dream and the Greek Mythology reveals that they are diametrically opposed; mutually exclusive. In Greek tragedy, the Hero is guilty of the worst crimes imaginable within his universe and his presence is the cause of the crisis of the community and through killing him, peace and order is restored. In this pattern we recognise what Rene Girard calls the story of persecution and scapegoat mechanismes.  Like lynching, like pogroms, like the Holocaust.

In the Hollywood Narrative system, the Hero is innocent, he is not the cause of the crisis in the community, maybe he exposes it, it is his presence that restores order and peace. We are not dealing with a Tragic or Oedipal Hero, we are dealing with a Triumphant of Messianic Hero.

The Narrative Logic of the American Dream, the Success Story, thus is rooted, not in Greek Myth as European Film scholars would have you believe, but in the Bible.

So what? Well,  Tragic Myth is nothing more or nothing less than the reconstruction of the "Scapegoat Mechanisme" or the Ritual of Human Sacrifice as a means to restore order within a community. The belief that the Different Other is the cause of your misery and by killing him you remove the cause of your suffering. That is the root meaning of Catharsis: Cleansing, Purification. That is the psychology of lynching, of pogroms, of the Holocaust and of the Ethnic cleansing in the Balkan recently. As a matter of fact the logic of violence is rooted within the scapegoat mechanisme.

The Bible opposes that belief and that ritual. As a matter of fact the Bible exposes the lie of the guilt of the Scapegoat. In a nutshell; Greek Myth makes the audience side with the Collective Violators. While the Bible makes its audience side with the Innocent Individual. Greek Myth is about "Socialisation". Bible = Hollywood is about Individuation.

The influence of Hollywood has been to drastically transform our European notion of who the Hero is and what Heroism is all about.

There is much more to American Storytelling, than Campbell's Hero's Journey. Hollywood re-enacts biblical narrative patterns and principles. In doing so it spreads a liberating message, a message of comfort and recognition to individuals everywhere.

It is a very exciting view; it explains so clearly the differences between America and Europe and the rest of the world for that matter. Did you know that in Europe, the Individual is not recognized by the State? Did you know that in the Arab world nor in the Asian world, the concept of separate individualism exists? There you are nothing unless you are part of a collective. No right to live without it/outside it. Therefore the American Story is dangerous to the powers that be, it empowers Individual Dignity. Precisely that quality that Repressive, collectivistic systems try to rob people of. And of course it is dangerous to those who would hide in the dark and moist Anonymity of the Mob, like the Womb that it is or behind the maternal skirt of the Great Mother State who protects them from cradle to grave.



The Seven Realities of True Myths: How story explains and enhances the world around us and within us.

Pamela Jaye Smith

It’s said that a true myth will be true on at least seven levels.   This presentation explores a number of ancient myths and modern stories (including quotes, illustrations and video clips) to see how they approach basic truths in the areas of cosmology, geology, physiology, psychology, sociology, history, and philosophy.


According to the teachings of the many Mystery Schools (Hindu, Egyptian, Celtic, Kabalistic, Mithraic, and more) the inherent truths of the macrocosm and the microcosm were crafted into compelling stories by the great teachers.  Heroes and heroines, love and war, friends and family, exploration, tragedy and enlightenment -- all are touched on in the world’s great mythic stories.  Also inherent in the plot-lines, character portrayals, and imagery are truths about geology and the movement of continents, astrology and the movement of stars, sociology and the movement of cultures across the continents... and much more.


Just as the ancients consciously crafted their stories to preserve truths in the face of cultural decline, wars and natural disasters, so too can we as modern story-tellers consciously imbed these “home truths” in our stories.  To do so will only enhance their drama and ratchet up the entertainment value since these various levels of truth (even if symbolic or subliminal) will resonate with the deepest parts of ourselves which are already fine-tuned and hard-wired to respond.


Novelist Lawrence Durrell crafted his Alexandria Quartet to express the concept of Einstein’s time-space continuum.  L. Frank Baum in the Wizard of Oz books and Frank Herbert’s Dune series embody the philosophy of the Wisdom teachings along with psychology  and in the latter, sociology and geology.  Gladiator gives us history and A Beautiful Mind explores physiology.  The classical stories of the Labors of Hercules and Ulysses’ return from Troy to Ithaca both reflect cosmology, physiology and psychology as we trip with those heroes through the constellations and the chakras.


Inspired by these examples and more, we’ll look at ways to work the great truths -- and questions -- of life into our new  myths.







The third leg of the story triangle: Art, Science & Philosophy


Pamela Jaye Smith

Why are some stories dynamic and others simply fizzle on the page?  Why are we still telling the seemingly simple classics to great success, yet that major studio multi-million dollar movie with three super-stars languishes on the video rental shelves? 


The ancient Wisdom, perpetuated through the myths of all cultures, teaches the value of balance and integration.  Three aspects believed essential to all effective stories are Art, Science and Philosophy.  Each of these is represented in some degree in every story.  What makes a story work is a vibrant balance and brilliant integration of these elements, resulting in stories that explain the world around us and within us, inspire us to live with wisdom, and infuse us with the pure essence of beauty.


Storytellers are not necessarily conscious of creating this balance and some seem at times to be guided by some higher vision, or as Solieri commented about Mozart, “Like he was taking dictation from God.”  Yet we know from investigating the mechanics of art that though many storytellers exhibit a natural talent to weld these three things together, others struggle mightily to do so.


What’s the optimal shape of the story triangle?   Equilateral?  Obtuse?  Acute?  What proportion goes in and what comes out?  How does the balance of these three aspects affect the effectiveness of stories?  The first Star Wars movie had a dynamic balance among art, science and philosophy and was a great success.  The fourth in the series, The Phantom Menace, was mostly science, little art, and abstruse economic philosophy and is widely regarded as a critical failure.  The 60’s Avengers TV series was fabulous; the recent Avengers movie (in spite of three mega superstars) was dismal.  The Spiderman movie is a success in great part due to the strength of its philosophy in the art-science-philosophy triangle.


We’ll explore such questions as how much science (technology) does it take to ruin the art?   When does philosophy become preaching or propaganda?   How much do you the story-teller need to know about the theories to practice the arts?  How can you align your art and your philosophy ala medium-is-the-message? 






Story ArchePaths: Five archetypal paths to character illumination.


Pamela Jaye Smith

Warrior, Monk, Magician, Scientist, Lover.   According to the ancient Mystery Schools an individual must master, balance and integrate these paths into a five-pointed star, the symbol of the illuminated human.


Each of these unique Paths presents its own challenges and rewards to the individual.  Besides being an exceptionally valuable tool for self-improvement, these ArchePaths also provide rich and realistic details for crafting your story characters. 


A character can arc through the three levels of each Path from the Novice to the Adept to the Master.  They can struggle on either side of the Path: the Mental or the Emotional.  And within a story they will interact with other characters on other Paths, creating great dramatic conflict.


Using this template to enhance your character development can help you fulfill some of the basic necessities of story-telling: “Familiarity and Surprise” and “Sympathy, Danger and Salvation”.  By aligning your characters to the profile of their ArchePath you can plug into the Familiarity of the ArchePaths yet put your own individual spin on it and give your audience Surprise.  Using the vulnerable and/or positive aspects of a character you can gain audience Sympathy for them.  Using their fears and weaknesses you can design a believable Danger into which to cast them.  Using their strengths and goals you can lead them towards an appropriate Salvation.


Examples of the ArchePaths will be drawn from myths and media and will include illustrative video clips.


Workshop attendees will receive Character Profiles for each ArchePath, including: 

Mission, Desires, Fears, Strengths, Weaknesses, Styles of Speech and Action, Symbols, examples from myth, history and story.   


From this workshop you’ll gain a new set of classical story-telling tools to enhance your craft and illuminate your art.


Intro to Story -
How does sound affect us in a dramatic way? What kind of reactions do our ears, body and brain have to the sonic environment that can contribute to creating emotions? By applying psychoacoustic and Gestalt principles, sound provides subconscious stimuli, subtext and powerful impact in storytelling.
When the spine of the story, antagonistic elements and emotional arcs of the characters are clearly defined, sound can dramatically contribute to the audience's involvement. Techniques including bipolar pairs, visual-sound
mapping, sound effects with emotional envelopes, and human-animal combos will be discussed.
Using examples from clips of well-known films, principles of psychoacoustics, sound-image counterpoint and audio sculpting will be reviewed. Techniques of bipolar pairs, visual-sound mapping, sound effects with emotional envelopes, and human-animal combos (introduced in the Plenary talk) will be applied with audience participation in selecting the most suggestive, intense or funny elements of sound design for a story spontaneously provided by a workshop member.
Plenary talk
The Power of Storytelling to Ignite Imagination
  Presenter: Richard Stone
 For years I have been teaching people how to use storytelling to heal, to grieve, to lead, and to build teamwork. While working on a new concept for a game show for television based on imagination and storytelling, not knowledge, I have come to realize that storytelling accomplishes something even more exciting—the very act of orally creating and telling a story taps into the roots of imagination. In fact, when given the opportunity to spin a story out of nothing, the brain engages the senses, the emotions, and the intellect in ways that other approaches to innovation simply don’t. The outcome is always surprising and quite frequently magical. In this talk, I will discuss how storytelling taps into the depths of imagination through the enactment of stories, and how it is the imaginal pathway to invention and innovation.
2 hour workshop
Story Jam
 Richard Stone
In this experiential workshop, I will show participants how to tap into the depths of their imagination through the enactment of stories. You’ll discover new ideas for any endeavor—whether it’s writing a screenplay or coming up with a concept for a new product. If you’ve been stymied on a current assignment, wondering where to find a breakthrough idea for the next one, or simply want to expand the horizons of your mind, through Story Jamming you’ll discover how to unleash the power of your thinking and imagination. 
Being Story: Narrative as a Guide to Self Discovery
Robert Burdette Sweet
The essential requirements for a successful story—and there are only three—simply put and in hierarchical order, are Significance (the universality of the content), Structure (the shape or form), and Style (the imprint of the writer’s personality in relation to the time frame within which the work is created).  My suggestion is that our lives, too, succeed or fail depending on the attention we pay to these three story essentials and particularly to their hierarchical order.
For instance, to what extent is our own existence dependent on a universal significance relevant to all human beings regardless of time, place or culture?  Is there a pattern to our lives which can give shape and form to whatever universals we might espouse?  And because style is our personal imprint, have we attempted to discover who we are. 
Writing a story, then—which we thought to be a meaningful hobby at the least and at the most an occupational absurdity—can actually be seen as a method for unmasking our existence and making it realizable.  Writing a story presents us with a kind of unified field theory for being, one whose guidelines, whose patterns and concerns, come from within and do not impose themselves from without.  Comprehending what comprises a story can free us from institutional forces whose existence depends on trying to alter, rather than aiding us in discovering, who we are and who we can be.  What is charisma, after all, but not being afraid to accept who we are?  And yet most of us are afraid.  To write a story is to find out who you are, possibly to become charismatic—first on the page, learning to trust story guidelines as a form of practice, then daring the stage of life.
Plenary talk:
"Telling Our Master Stories"
Daniel Taylor
Every story that grows out of a life is worth telling. But some
stories are more life-shaping than others. In order to make sense of the tangle of stories that compose a life, it is helpful to identify the master story or stories by which all other stories are understood and judged.
Master stories have certain characteristics and serve specific functions. In encouraging people to identify their master stories we can help them to make better sense of their lives and to live more purposefully. The concept of master stories can also help us understand seemingly intractable conflicts between individuals, groups, ethnicities, and nations. Understanding that many serious conflicts are in fact story collisions can help us find ways to create new stories in which former combatants can both live.
Two-hour workshop:
"Leaving a Spiritual Legacy: Telling the Master Stories of Your Life"
Daniel Taylor
Each of us wants it to matter that we have lived. At some point in our lives, we move from an emphasis on success to a search for significance, from the accumulation of valuables to reflection on values. Memoir writing
has long been an important way to record and preserve a life, but the highest form of memoir can do more than document and entertain. Stories can become legacies if we tell the right ones in the right way to the people we
This workshop will focus on the concept of spiritual legacies and on story as their natural vehicle. It will discuss key terms and concepts, help you generate a list of your life-defining stories, articulate your core values
and connect them to your master stories‹the stories that tell you who you are, why you are here, and how you should live.
Handout for workshop
           Daniel Taylor   
d-taylor@bethel.edu  www.thelegacycenter.net
Every life is significant.  Every life conveys a spiritual legacy--for good or for ill.  Spiritual legacies are most powerfully preserved and passed on in stories.  Everyone has the right and the responsibility to tell those stories to the ones they care about most.
Below are some questions for reflection and writing. When you respond to these questions, tie your answers as much as possible to specific stories from your life.  Abstract answers are worthwhile but less powerful than those arising from life-stories--especially from the characters in your stories.  Be honest--none of us lives up perfectly to our own standards (unless those standards are low). But also treat the characters in your stories, including yourself, with compassion, fairness, and respect.
On September 11, 2001, many people made last calls to those they loved from airplanes and burning offices.  If you had to make that call, what would you want to say, and to whom?
Envision a great-grandchild that you will never meet who needs to know about you. What do you want them to know about you?  About life?   
What do you think your legacy would be if you died tomorrow?  Are you content with that legacy?
            What are your core values, and how are those core values seen in the way you live your life?  Would those who know you recognize what you write?
            What would you hope is said about you at your funeral? 
            What are some things you feel passionately about?  Why?
            What are three lessons life has taught you?  What are the stories behind each?
            What are five significant things you believe to be true?  What life experiences
taught you each of them?
What have you done that you hope has made the world a slightly better place?
What did you once believe was important that you have changed your mind
about? What caused the change?
            What have you learned is important that you once paid little attention to?  What
caused the change?
            What is a way in which the world is better than when you were growing up? 
worse? different?
How do you see God differently now than you once did?
Have you or someone you know ever shown moral courage (doing the right thing
under difficult circumstances)?  Tell about it.

            Who, specifically, has taught you important lessons in the past?  What did you learn?  Through what circumstances? What story or story exemplifies this?
            Who in your extended family has played an important part in shaping you?
            What teacher, friend, person of faith, or co-worker?
            What character from history, literature, the Bible or other sacred writings has meant a lot to you?  Why?
            What did someone do for you that changed how you thought or felt about life?
About yourself?  About God?
What would you like to say to someone from your past who is now dead?
Who have you read that has provided a spiritual legacy for you?  What did you learn from them?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn (from The Gulag Archipelago):
"What about the main thing in life, all its riddles?  If you want, I’ll spell it out for you right now.  Do not pursue what is illusory--property and position--all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night.  Live with a steady superiority over life--don’t be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn’t last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing.  It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides . . . . whom should you envy?  And why?  Our envy of others devours us most of all.  Rub your eyes and purify your heart--and prize above all else in the world those who love you and wish you well.  Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it might be the last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory."
Frederick Buechner (from Now and Then)
            "There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him, but all the more fascinatingly because of that, all the more compellingly and hauntingly . . . . Listen to your life.  See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.  In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
Pre-Conference Intro to Story Talk
"Living and Leaving a Spiritual Legacy: The Centrality of Story in a Meaningful Life."
Daniel Taylor
An overview of the centrality of story to understanding ourselves and our place in the world. How story answers all of life's big questions. Our need to find a story to live by, one in which we are active characters. Living in a healthy story as the key to a meaningful and satisfying life. Qualities of a healthy life story. The role of "master stories" in our life.
Chapter for the Story book:
"In the Beginning God: Religious Faith as a Master Story"
Daniel Taylor
Will explore the concept of master stories--ideological, historical,
personal. Investigate religious faith as a master story--one which defines
a community and gives direction to a life. Look at some of the story
aspects of Judeo-Christian tradition. May touch on the tension between the
religious and the secular ("the culture wars") as a collision of stories and
suggest more helpful paradigms of interaction.