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2007 Schedule

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Story Structure for Passionate Writers
Step by Step from Inspiration to Finished Manuscript

A one-day creative workshop by
Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator of StoryWeaver, Co-creator
of the Dramatica Theory & Software

Each registered will receive a Free copy of the Writer's Survival Kit CD ROM
including free writing software, 3 one-hour writing classes on video,
450 page story structure book, essays on creativity, & more!

One-Day Story Structure Workshop - $99

Workshop Overview

Based on Ms. Phillips' acclaimed UCLA course, this workshop provides a step-by-step approach to story structure that is painless, practical, and creative.  You'll learn how to structure before you write or to find and refine the structure in a draft you've already written.  You'll practice techniques for banishing writer's block once and for all.  And most important, you'll discover how to ensure a sound structure without sacrificing your Muse.

Topics Covered


        Story Structure v. Storytelling

Structure is the underlying logistic foundation of your story - the way the elements of the drama hang together.  Storytelling is the manner in which the author expresses and unfolds the story to the reader/audience.  Being able to separate the two is essential to a sound structure and an unconstrained Muse.

        The Elements of Structure -The Four Aspects of Structure

We're all familiar with the four key aspects of structure: Character, Plot, Theme, and Genre.  But how do they interrelate?  And how do changes made in one affect the other three structurally?

        The Art of Storytelling - The Four Stages of Communication

There are four stages of communication between author and reader/audience: Storyforming, Storyencoding, Storyweaving, and Reception.  Find out what they are and now to make sure your story communication flows through to the reader/audience without leaks in the pipe!

        The Story Mind

What if your story had a mind of it's own, as if it were a character unto itself with its own personality, its own psychology?  Suppose your characters were seen as the conflicting drives of this "Story Mind," theme as its troubled value standards, plot as its efforts to resolve its problems, and genre as the Story Mind's overall personality?

What if you could psychoanalyze your story's mind to learn who your characters should be, what thematic issues you should explore, how your plot should unfold, and what unique twists define your story's genre?

  In this workshop you'll learn about all facets of the Story Mind.  You'll find out how to create a personality profile for your story and to use it as a map to exactly what your story is about and what happens in it.


       Hero is a four-letter word

A Hero is a composite character being the Protagonist, the audience position in the story, a "Good Guy", the Central (most important) character, who succeeds in his Goal, and is personally fulfilled.  But each of these is a different trait that can mixed and matched with the traits of other characters.  Find out how to break free of one-dimensional heroes and to create more human, more interesting lead characters.

        Archetypal Characters

Learn the difference between Archetypes and Stereotypes and when each should be used.  Discover the eight quintessential Archetypal Characters and the personality traits each represents.

        Dimensions of Character

Tradition has it that characters should be three-dimensional.  But there is a fourth dimension of character that is often ignored.  Find out how to add that missing dimension to make your characters truly believable.

        Complex Characters

Archetypal Characters each represent a whole family of similar traits.  But these characters can be "broken up", and their traits re-distributed among much more interesting and complex characters.

        Subjective Characters

Many characters are defined by their structural roles in the plot.  In contrast, Subjective Characters are defined by their point of view in regard to a story's message or moral issue.  Learn how to select one of your plot characters to serve as "host" for your moral argument.

        The 28 "Magic" Character Scenes

There are many ways to develop characters and their relationships over the course of a story.  Discover the 28 "Magic" Character Scenes that ensure all crucial aspects of character development are included in your structure.



No matter what your abilities as a word smith, you're story ain't goin' nowhere unless you have creative ideas.  Learn to use a whole tool box of painless techniques to goose the Muse.  Armed with these, you'll never face Writer's Block again!

        The 8 Essential Questions

There are eight essential questions every author should be able to answer about his or her story.  If you can't, you're reader/audience will find holes and inconsistencies in your structure.  Learn to answer all eight and apply your answers to the most basic foundation of your story's structure.

        Character Resolve - Change or Steadfast?

Contrary to popular belief, characters don't have to change in order to grow.  Rather, characters can also grow in their Resolve.  Learn how to decide if your character changes like Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol", or remains steadfast like Dr. Richard Kimble in "The Fugitive".

        Character Growth -  Start of Stop?

When a character grows, does it start a new trait it previously lacked, or stop and old trait it previously possessed.  Learn how each option affects your reader/audience differently.

        Character Approach - Do-er or Be-er?

How do your character's approach the story's problems - by taking action like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, or by taking an attitude like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven?  Discover how to create Be-er characters that don't come off as nothing more than victims.

        Character Mental Sex - Male or Female?

Yes, characters have sex.  Shocking, but true.  And sex is, as a point of origin, in the mind.  Learn how Mental Sex is part learned and part biology.  And discover when a character's mental sex shouldn't match its physical sex, as with Ripley in the original "Alien" and Jack Ryan in "The Hunt for Red October."

        Story Work - Action or Decision?

Do actions force deliberation, or do decisions for action?  "Action Stories" can actually be driven by decisions, and vice-versa.  Learn how to create a causal consistency for your story.

        Story Limit - Timelock or Optionlock?

We're all familiar with the ticking bomb, but what about the Three Wishes?  Stories are drawn to a conclusion because the characters run out of time or run out of options.  Learn how to decide which kind of Limit works best for your story.

        Story Outcome - Success or Failure?

Sound simple enough, but what is the difference between a Partial Success and a Partial Failure?  And what is the overall outcome of a story in which some characters achieve their goals and others do not?

        Story Judgment - Good or Bad?

Just because a story ends in success doesn't mean the judgment is Good.  Take "Remains of the Day" or "Silence of the Lambs", for example.  And failure stories aren't necessarily Bad, as evidences by "Rainman" and "The Great Race."  Learn all about bitter-sweet endings, and ironic justice.


        Premise leads to Writer's Block

"Greed leads to Self-Destruction" is fine for boiling down a story a central message.  But it is impossible to write from one.  Learn a new approach to message and thematic argument that guides your story, rather than just labeling it.

        The Four Thematic Classes

Part of theme is the nature of the story's subject matter and the problem in it.  Does your story center on an Internal or External problem?  And is that problem a state of things (situation or attitude) or a process (endeavor, or manner of thinking).  Learn the differences among them and how all four need to show up in every complete structure.

        Points of View

It's not just what you're looking at, but where you are looking from.  Learn how to position your audience in relation to your story points so they end up just where you want them.

        Thematic Conflict

Why settle for a thematic topic when you can explore a thematic conflict?  Learn how to put "vs." in between a point and counterpoint to create the tension that will drive your theme.

        The Thematic Argument

An audience or reader won't buy a black & white message that hits them over the head.  You need to message them into your point of view.  Learn how to make an emotional argument about your message that will lead the reader/audience to draw your conclusions for itself!

        The 28 "Magic" Thematic Scenes

As with characters, there are 28 "Magic" thematic scenes that ensure every step in your thematic argument is included in your story's structure.  Learn what they are, and how to fold them into the 28 "Magic" character scenes for a more integrated story.

    Story Encoding

        Story Structure meets Story Points

Authors don't come to a story because of the structure, but because of the subject matter that interests them.  Find out how to attach your subject matter to specific story points to ensure that your material has a structural backbone and that your structure becomes tangible.

        Wheels within Wheels

Story points are all the same size or weight in the structure.  Discover how they "nest" into families, and how dramatic changes in the balance of one family can turn them like cogs in the Great Machine, bringing different story points into new conjunctions.

        Structure & Dynamics

What drives the unfolding of a story?  The tension that is wound-up in the structure.  Learn how story structure works like a Rubik's Cube.  It can be twisted and turned to build tension, but only in certain ways, along certain lines. Still, with just a handful of key story points, you can create thousands of different dramatic patterns.


        Plot vs. Storyweaving

Plot is the sequential order of events in the internal logic of the story.  Storyweaving is the order in which story points are revealed to the reader/audience.  Learn to separate to the two to make sure your great storytelling isn't bridging fatal gaps in your underlying plot progression.

        Static and Progressive Plot Points

Plot is part Goal, and part Act.  Learn the entire list of static plot points (such as Requirements, and Costs) and of progressive plot points (such as Scenes, and Sequences) and how to use them all to create depth in your story.

        Act Structure

One Act, Two Acts, Three Acts, Four?  Discover how Aristotle had it wrong.  Learn how using the new concept of Signposts and Journeys ensures each act has the proper dramatic weight and the entire area is covered in your story.  Don't be locked into a certain number of pages per act.  Rather, let the structure be your guide.

        What should happen in Act 2

Using Signposts and Journeys you'll know exactly what needs to happen in Act two, and how it grows out of Act one and into Act three.


Subplot may intersect and affect the main plot, or may run parallel to it.  Some stories may have multiple plots like raisins in rice pudding.  Learn how to determine the kind of plot structure that is best for the story you want to tell.

        The 28 "Magic" Plot Scenes

As with Characters and Theme, there are 28 "Magic" Plot Scenes that ensure every key plot point is addressed by your story's structure.  Discover what they are and learn how to fold the Character, Theme, and Plot scenes together for a fully integrated story structure.


        Weaving the Four Throughlines

Every complete structure has four key throughlines, each of equal weight.  Learn all about them and how to weave them into the fabric of your storytelling in a flexible, yet structurally sound manner.

        Storyweaving techniques

No reader or audience ever came to a story to enjoy a good structure!  Here's a grab-bag of storytelling techniques that will thrill your reader/audience and make your story riveting.


       A new approach to Genre

Until now, Genre has been most useful in deciding on what shelf rental movies belong.  This new approach turns Genre into a dynamic tool for story construction that will affect your reader/audience at the most basic level.

        Using the Genre Chart

You'll receive a Genre Chart - Hey, it's just printed handout, but the information it contains is invaluable.

        An Emotional Roller Coaster

Does your story "flat-line"?  Learn how to use the Genre Chart to plan and predict the emotional state of your audience at any point in your story.  Use it as a guideline for the timber of each scene as you write it.  Make sure the heart of your story doesn't skip any beats.


        Who is your audience?

You are your first audience.  But unless you intend to write for an audience of one, you need to consider that a story is a collaboration between author and audience.  Knowing who they are and what preconceptions that bring to the process will give you the tools you need to ensure the message the audience receives is the one you sent.

        Audience Expectations

These days, no story hits the mass market without all kinds of pre-publicity.  And, it lands smack in the middle of the culture and whatever flux it is in at that moment.  Add to that the competition from similar works, adaptations, sequels, and prequels, and the audience will have a whole bag of expectations that you'd better not violate!

        Audience Manipulation

Sometimes you are just telling a story.  Other times you are trying use a story to leverage impact in the Real World.  Learn how to be clear on your purpose, and how to manipulate the audience in the directions you desire.


Manipulation affects an audience, but they are aware that it is happening.  Propaganda changes their attitudes while they are busy watching something else in your story.  Propaganda is not bad, just a tool.  You'll learn the simple, but powerful technique at the heart of all Propaganda.  How you use it is up to you.

   About the Presenter

Melanie Anne Phillips is creator of the best-selling StoryWeaver Software, and co-creator of the Dramatica Theory and Dramatica Software.

Ms. Phillips has taught story structure through UCLA for many years, and regularly presents other seminars and workshops around the country.

Prior to her career as a writing instructor, Ms. Phillips worked in the motion picture industry in a variety of capacities from writer, director, and editor, to a number of technical positions in production and post-production