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Nothing currently scheduled as I'm producing a romantic comedy ANNALIESE! ANNALLIESE!. See Storycraft Training link at left for the on-ling verion of my 2-3 day workshop.

Seminar & Workshop

Schedule & Registration Past Participant Comments
One-Day Workshop Outline One-Hour Seminar Outline

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One-Day Workshop Outline
The 21 Secrets to All Successful Stories (Films or Novels)

DISCLAIMER: Depending on the workshop length and logistic concerns the form and content of the workshop may change without notice. All workshops include a detailed description of the 21 Secrets of all successful stories, with emphasis on motion picture narratives. This is done, conveniently, with a comprehensive presentation of the moral premise concept with practical suggestions for its implementation. The "Ah-Ha!" moment comes when you see the simple, lock-step connection between a single moral premise statement, and EVERYTHING dealing with the movie's creation -- from story structure, to art direction, to marketing. There will be time to ask questions both in the class and during breaks or afterwards. Depending on the length of time available we may (or may not) have time to delve in the stories that participants are working on.


In this 1-day, 4 to 7-hour workshop you will learn the most fundamental elements of all successful story structure, whether they are in the form of a movie, a stage play, or a novel. The moral premise is not a new idea. It has been an integral part of all story-telling from ancient times. Yet, it may be the most important of all.


Narrative writers, producers, and directors of all story genres and media will find this session beneficial, if not foundational. Fans of motion pictures may also want to attend. If you're a writer this session will give you a practical understanding of the moral premise that will speed along and improve the quality of your story's structure. In many ways the moral premise is a powerful muse; when used correctly it will inspire and focus your efforts, and powerfully connect you with your audience. Say "Good-bye" to writer's block. As a fan you'll have a greater appreciation of movies, plays, and novels when you understand and see how writers and directors use the moral premise as the center and motive force of their tales.


The seminar lectures will be illustrated by both computer graphics and motion clips from popular films. Dr. Williams will, for the most part, follow the structure of the book. The presentation is continually being updated with new insights thanks to the generous contribution of past session participants, bloggers, story consulting sessions, and, of course, new films. The outline below, therefore, may be slightly different from one presentation to the next.

Part 1 - History, Theory, Structure

Segment 1 - Defining the Terms of Story (Ch 1)
To avoid equivocation, we will answer these questions:
  • Why is a true moral premise so important to a story's success?
  • What is a premise?
  • What is the difference between a premise and a theme?
  • What is a value, and why are they necessary to story telling?
  • Why is the "conflict of values" a requirement of all successful stories?
  • What is at the heart of all genre movies?
  • A short exercise.

Segment 2 - The Ubiquitousness of Moral Premises in Stories (Ch2-3)
In this part you will learn:
  • What do we mean when we say something is "moral?"
  • How moral premises are found in ancient writings, classic literature, and modern stories.
  • What modern writing authors say about the moral premise, including the writings of Robert McKee, Michael Tierno, Michael Hauge, Syd Field, Chris Vogler, James Bonnete, Linda Seger, David Trotter, Lew Hunter, and Dona Cooper.
  • How every story contains both a physical and psychological spine.
  • Why the psychological story is more important than the physical story.
  • Why mental activity always precedes physical action.
  • A short exercise.

Segment 3 - Living and Writing According to Natural Law (Ch. 4)
In this part you will learn:
  • That while characters can make any decisions they want, the consequence is determined by natural law.
  • The general form of the moral premise.
  • The Natural Law of the moral premise.
  • The Consistency Corollary of the moral premise.
  • The Validity Corollary of the moral premise.
  • Five Right-Brain Creative Processes.
  • The precise form of the moral premise.
  • The relationship between a "moral premise" and "theme."
  • Introduction to the "Moment of Grace."
  • A short exercise.

Segment 4 - Story's Critical Structure (Ch. 5)
In this part you will learn:
  • Why there are two spines in every good story.
  • What a movie is "about" and what a movie is "really about."
  • How the structure of moral premise is a summary of the entire story.
  • Why a story's "moment of grace" is the most important turning point.
  • The spines in "A Beautiful Mind."
  • The spines in "Bruce Almighty."
  • The spines in "In the Bedroom."
  • The spines in "Braveheart."
  • A short exercise.

Segment 5 - Why and When Audience's "Get it!" (Ch 6)
In this part you will learn:
  • How filmmakers connect with audiences and audiences identify with a story's characters.
  • How the audience is physically and psychologically sutured into a good story.
  • The three moral identification patterns revealed in research.
  • Audience and filmmaker alignment of values.
  • Short explanation of the author's research.
  • Questions and Discussion.

Segment 6 - Questions and Answers

Part 2 - Application

Segment 7 - Eight Steps to Incorporating a True Moral Premise into a Film Story (Ch 7-16)
In this part you will learn how to determine and imbue:
  1. Controlling Virtue
  2. Controlling Vice
  3. Moral Premise
  4. Genre
  5. Physical Goal(s)
  6. Physical Obstacles
  7. Arc Plots
  8. Major Dramatic Beats
  9. Multiple Characters/Goals
  10. Turning Point Characteristics

Segment 8 - Interactive Story Plotting
We will work on stories that participants bring:
  • Controlling Virtue
  • Controlling Vice
  • Moral Premise
  • The Moment of Grace

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