Skip to main content

Story Engineering

Master the six core competencies of successful writing.    
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Story Engineering
Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing
by Larry Brooks
Writer's Digest Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58297-998-4
$17.99, paperback, 288 pages

Image placeholder title

Buy the book

Read an excerpt
In this excerpt from Story Engineering, author Larry Brooks defines the story element of concept.

About the book
The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding of where to even begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that stories are every bit as engineering driven as they are artistic in nature. But the truth is, unless you are a master of the form, function and criteria for successful storytelling, then sitting down and pounding out a first draft without planning is an ineffective way to write a story.

Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling—the engineering and design of a story—and uses it as the basis for narrative. The greatest potential of any story is found in the way six aspects of storytelling combine and empower each other on the page. When rendered artfully, they become a sum in excess of their parts.

You’ll learn to wrap your head around the big picture of storytelling at a professional level through a new approach that shows how to combine these six core competencies:

• the four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot);
• and the two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice.

The true magic of storytelling happens when these six core competencies work together in perfect harmony. And the best part? Anyone can do it!

Praise for Story Engineering

“If you've been searching for an accessible, well-reasoned explanation of how the story building process works, look no further. Here is the roadmap you need to understanding the craft of writing.”

—Terry Brooks, author of more than twenty five bestselling novels including The Sword of Shannara, Bearers of the Black Staff, The Gypsy Morph and many others.

Story Engineering is a master class in novel writing. Reading it is like getting an MFA, without the pesky admissions process or student loans. This book will make you smarter about the craft. Period.”

 —Chelsea Cain, New York Times Bestselling author of Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart, among others.

“Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering is a brilliant instructional manual for fiction writers that covers what the author calls the ‘Six Competencies of Successful Storytelling.’ The author presents a story telling model that keeps the writer focused on creating a dynamic living and breathing story form concept to the ‘beat sheet’ plan, through story structure and writings scenes. It’s a wonderful guide for the beginner and a great refresher for the pro. I guarantee this book will give you new ways to fire up your creativity.”

—Jim Frey, author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel, How to Write a Damn Good Thriller, and Gift of the White Light

“Larry Brooks’ groundbreaking book offers both novelists and screenwriters a model for storytelling that is nothing short of brilliant in its simplicity, its depth, its originality and its universality. Following his unique process is guaranteed to elevate your writing to the highest professional level.”

—Michael Hauge, author of Writing Screenplays That Sell, and Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds

“Nobody on the planet teaches story structure better than Larry Brooks. Nobody.”

—Randy Ingermanson, author of Writing Fiction For Dummies

"A useful guide explaining how to transfer screenwriting techniques to the craft of novel-writing. Good for screenwriters, too, summarizing the essence of entertaining commercial storytelling with great clarity."

—Christopher Vogler, author of The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers

"Save yourself years of fuzzy workshops and failed drafts. Here is Story revealed with clarity, inspiration and simplicity. A masterful guide to the novel!"

—Kay Kenyon, author of Bright of the Sky

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to Alyssa Rickert, Grand Prize winner of the 2nd Annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's her winning essay, "In Between."

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

From maintaining subtlety to visiting haunted places, author J. Fremont shares everything to consider when writing about ghosts and the supernatural in fiction.

6 Effective Steps To Promote Your Forthcoming Book on Social Media and Feel Good About It

6 Effective Steps To Promote Your Forthcoming Book on Social Media and Feel Good About It

Social media is a daunting albeit important aspect of promoting our work. Here, author Aileen Weintraub offers six steps to promote your book on social media authentically.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 609

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a world-building poem.

Writer's Digest Presents podcast image

Writer's Digest Presents: World-Building (Podcast, Episode 5)

In the fifth episode of the Writer's Digest Presents podcast, we talk about world-building in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including interviews with authors Whitney Hill (fiction) and Jeannine Hall Gailey (poetry).



Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, someone's shown up demanding your narrator's family heirloom.

May Cobb: On Stolen Moments

May Cobb: On Stolen Moments

Author May Cobb discusses offering readers a summer of mayhem with her new novel, My Summer Darlings.

The Time Is Now: Securing First-Hand Accounts of History for Writing Projects

The Time Is Now: Securing First-Hand Accounts of History for Writing Projects

Writer Stephen L. Moore discusses the benefits of having first-hand accounts for historical writing and offers advice on best practices in securing interviews while there’s still time.

From Script

Character Exploration and Development in Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers, showrunners and more who share a common thread of character exploration and development!