what is your story

20 Years in the Fiction Mines

Posted on Posted in Editing and Revision, Story Structure

I was looking through some old story craft notes this afternoon and the hand-written title on the top of a page stopped me in my tracks.  Robert McKee Story Structure 24th to 26th November 1995.


1995? How is that possible? It feels like yesterday.

So of course, I hunted out my binder for this course.  Yup! November 1995.

That weekend in London 20 years ago was one of those major reasons why I left my day job seven years later to learn everything I could about story craft and how to write compelling fiction.

Back then, there was very little online material and formal training on how to write and most of it was geared at screenwriters and film makers – in courses just like this one.

I recall that the auditorium was full of actors whose faces I vaguely recognised, and movie and TV professionals.

And me.  A wannabe fiction writer. Who arrived on Saturday morning with no clue, and left Sunday evening with her head full of lightbulbs exploding from ideas such as:

  • Screenwriters choreograph the emotional response of their audience in every single scene.
  • A two hour movie is made up of 60 perfect 2-minute scenes.
  • Every scene has beats. Scenes built into sequences which create Acts. And each Act has a function.

Mind blown. World shifted.  And Casablanca is still a favourite movie.

From then on, I realised that every writer needs two skills:

  1. The ability to tell stories.
  2. The craft to shape those stories into the best form possible.

Bring the two together? Story Magic.

This discovery is particularly apt, since I am going to be focusing on Story Craft over the next 30 Days, and sharing tons of information and online training with you as we head towards Xmas and the end of the year.

It has taken me 20 years to get here.

How about I give you some short cuts?

Sound good? Stay tuned for updates.

cover page of my manualscriptcourse content



2 thoughts on “20 Years in the Fiction Mines

    1. Thanks Liz. I think it was especially important for me because I was working a stressful day job and trying to find my way and suddenly in one weekend the whole concept of story structure just “clicked” and from then on I was hooked.
      Robert McKee still runs the course and he wrote a [ very densely packed ] book – STORY- based on the course a couple of years later.
      Strange to think that I am still a story craft geek 20 years later. Have a great weekend!

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