Unlock the Power of Criteria-Driven Story Development

Unlock the Power of Criteria-Driven Story Development

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This presentation is about elevating the efficacy of your writing process, without asking you to change it. In doing that, the focus isn't on process, per se; rather, this session focuses on the outcome of your process, framed as element-specific target criteria.

In the mystery and thriller genres especially, audiences have specific expectations, as well as a high bar. While a story may emerge organically for the writer, rare is the story that ticks off the requisite boxes at that early stage. There are craft-specific strategies to help you meet the criteria for an effective mystery or thriller, regardless of whether you are a pantser (an organic story developer) or a plotter/planner/outliner. The criteria, and the desired outcome, are exactly the same.

Experienced authors understand that the criteria for the first part of a novel are very different than the middle or the end (which al also unique, criteria-wise). But even that is overly simplistic. This presentation reduces the core bones of an effective mystery or thriller down into specific elements and essences, giving you context for the creative decisions you must make within each of them.

Half the battle is won at the story-idea stage, and how that translates into a complete - and completely functional - dramatic premise. There are specific criteria for this, which frame the efficacy the parts and parcels that emerge from that premise.

You may have studied the basics before now. This presentation is a deeper dive into what makes bestsellers out of otherwise pedestrian story ideas, and what makes career-authors out of those who still seek the nuances and true purpose of the craft principles that can unlock the highest potential of the work.


Larry Brooks is the author of four Writers Digest books on fiction craft, including the bestselling STORY ENGINEERING, named by Signaturereads.com as the third best writing book of the modern era. He is a frequent speaker at WD events and other conferences, and his website, www.storyfix.com, is a well-known resource for authors at all levels of the fiction trade. His new WD book, THE CRITERIA-DRIVEN NOVELIST, will be released Fall 2019.

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