A friend and mentor reminded me the other day, “People don’t buy books, they buy stories.” Not just books, the same is true of movies, televisions shows, and even social media posts. Consumers are there for the story, that’s what you take home and that’s what you tell your friends about.
The story is what shapes your worldview and challenges your thinking.
What makes a story work? There are lots of great storytellers in the world. There are lots of great writers. Most of them will never sell a book or stand in front of an audience. What are they missing?
A successful story needs three key players—the storyteller, the wordsmith, and the hawk.
These are three unique skillsets:
The storyteller sees a good story, he intuitively understands human psychology and knows how to exploit it. The storyteller loves to organize a narrative, and bring realism and irony to characters.
The wordsmith understands prose, feels words in his bones. He can make you laugh or make you cry, just by a turn of phrase. Every line is beautiful and effective.
The hawk knows how to get the story in front of the right people. He understands marketing and consumer behavior. The hawk knows that a story without a reader is futile.
These are three distinct skillsets, and a successful story needs all three. Few people naturally excel in all three areas.
On his own, the storyteller knows, “I oughta write a book, you know.” Their friends have said the same thing. And they’ve tried, oh they’ve tried. But they sit down, and it just doesn’t come out, the words just don’t have the quality they need.
On the other hand, wordsmiths are told, “you’re such a talented writer.” But for all of the beautiful, poignant, witty lines they can craft, the stories just don’t carry water, they don’t resonate in the soul. The pieces are missing.
And a hawk, all on his own, is just a used car salesman.
To be successful, writers need to be all three of these things. Good writers are one of these things. Great writers are two of them. Successful authors are all three.
Our program helps writers fill in the gaps. As a small, elite program, we can work with each student individually to identify his or her unique talents and calling. We can craft individual exercises, projects, and challenges to stretch the student and fill in the missing pieces.
We expect our students to be “talented”, to have natural ability, in one of these areas, maybe two. Our job is to identify what’s missing, and help the author step into their calling as a complete package.
This is how we empower our students to surpass their peers and effectively invade the American media with exceptional, world-changing content.
That’s how we turn writers into authors.
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