Spring Intensive :: LARRY BROOKS afternoon session

We moved into a bigger room after lunch so people didn’t have to sit on the floor…plus we got popcorn!

6 CORE COMPETENCIES (4 elements, 2 skill sets)

·         CONCEPT The dramatic stage upon which character and the other core competencies unfold. What if statements. The more compelling the question, the more interesting the answer. What is the potential for this stage to evoke emotion? What if

·         CHARACTER every story required a hero, in romance the hero is usually the female character.  Who

·         THEME Your story has to mean something. Love is thematic already, but is it optimized? Goal is to provoke and get the reader to think about the experience. What it means

·         STRUCTURE What happens in what order and why. Every scene is in context to what happens before and after that create pressure on the story. How

·         SCENES contextual mission and microcosm of story structure. Immersive and visceral.

·         VOICE  Your ability to write a great sentence. Smooth narrative. Writing voice is like air, clean and crisp. When you notice air, it is because it has a scent and one man’s perfume is another’s stench. Verbal gymnastics can get tangled.

To break into the business or write a best seller, you have to have all 6 core competencies, and excel in at least one.


·         DESIGN


·         NARRATIVE PREMISE – sometimes it is the seed of the story. Make it as compelling as possible. The evolution from idea to story arc.

·         DRAMATIC TENSION – conflict. In any given moment in any given scene ask what is the dramatic tension that  provides context for the scene. Both within the story and within each scene. What’s at stake? What are the consequences?

·         NARRATIVE PACE – the nature and flow of which new information is entering the story and moving it towards its destination. Stories are always moving forward. They need to accelerate.

·         HEROIC EMPATHY – the reader must relate to the main character.

·         VICARIOUS READER EXPERIENCE – hopefulness of feeling the chemistry of falling in love, experiencing places and events, take a journey they wouldn’t usually take.

·         AESTHETIC – x-factor. What makes your storytelling special.

Concept is plot-related or character-related. Without a concept, a characters story is a resume. The character has to want something.

Premise is the marriage of concept and character and touches on theme.

There is a hierarchy in concept, elevate it to its most compelling.

Make your story special by setting it someplace special.


1st dimension – what we put on to show people who we are, façade, clothing
2nd dimension – the truth, what causes you to want to look a certain way, fit in with a specific group
3rd dimension – true character, what is revealed under pressure, when a politician is amoral and denies it under oath, when the steroid scandal in baseball came to light and some admitted it while others denied

In the resolution the hero steps up and conquers inner demons and makes martyr like decisions and becomes the catalyst for the conclusion of the story.

The happily ever after is a foregone conclusion, so how do you make it exciting?

There are things that emotionally change that reflect the plot and the context lines up from that


A plot in four boxes – setup (introducing a character and bringing them to a transition point, where everything changes), attack, response, resolution

Milestones, foreshadowing, midpoint, pinch points

Sequencing your scenes around plot points. Mission driven scene writing. You know what every scene is seeking to deliver to the reader. Great scenes create a cut and thrust, pulling the reader to the next scene or chapter.

How does it all come together?  Optimal Execution

4 part structure and it IS proportional in order to optimize pace

Character Arc
Plot Points
What is Point?
Setup – world view of hero is established, GMC and stakes
1st around 20%
Where she  makes a choice to leave
Warrior – proactive
2nd around 75%
Martyr – willing to do whatever needs to be done to get to goal
3rd after 80%

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