This month-long experience includes five one-hour Zoom meetings and email exchanges in between. The first Zoom meeting will be the initial discussion of student goals for their story and the Expedition experience. This will be followed by a weekly Zoom meeting. One for each of the four Zones of the story. Weekly or more often email exchanges will be expected for submission of ideas and work progress by students. I will provide suggestions and feedback. Each week the student will commit to work goals.
Prerequisite: The Story Structure Safari class
This Advanced Virtual Safari Expedition experience is best done with prior Safari knowledge gained in the full month Story Structure Safari class.
I don’t want you struggling to understand Safari and story terminology, elements and concepts during our valuable Zoom time.
The Advanced Expedition is NOT like the Story Structure Safari class with you working through all the Safari lessons. That would be the Story Structure Safari Coaching: An Individual Experience.
For the Advanced Expedition, I would recommend that you do have a plan or draft that includes the beginning to the end of your story. Knowing where the story will start and end will help keep us focused and build momentum.
Expedition is us working through your story plan/draft to make sure you have the elements expected in each Zone and a solid character arc for your protagonist.
I am not reading pages. You would be providing me with overviews of Zones and characters.
I have worked with two Virtual Expedition students at a time. So, two writing partners, familiar with each other’s stories, could consider both signing up to take Expedition together. Each would get about 40 minutes on each Zoom, so Zoom sessions would be longer.
What is Story Structure?
A story is created by weaving together two major components, Plot and Character, within a setting or world. Both the plot and characters change and evolve as the story unfolds. Neither plot nor character can stand alone.
Story Structure helps the writer identify elements and patterns throughout a story. Story Structure aids in understanding how those elements can be woven together to create a powerful, effective story that meets or exceeds reader expectations.
Story Structure is a framework to help identify and create:
- Important scenes or Turning Points that propel the reader to wonder what will happen next.
- Character interactions, actions, and reactions that reveal the nature of characters and how they need to change as the story progresses.
- Settings or worlds that are revealed through the eyes of the characters, and how these worlds or settings impact the characters and the plot.
What You’ll Learn:
- How to use the core elements of your story.
- How to recognize the four-zone story structure, the main purpose of each zone, and the specific elements that are special to each zone.
- How to map out the Landmarks (important elements, scenes and turning points) in the four zones.
- How to compare your protagonist to the archetype character in each zone and show that on the page.
- How to identify the interdependence of plot, character arc, and setting in each zone.
- How to use information discussed and instructor feedback to work towards fully developing your story, write your first draft, or edit the draft you have completed.
Who Should Take This Course:
- For writers who have become stymied while writing the first draft or a subsequent draft of their novel.
- For successfully published authors who want to learn more about creating powerful stories to exceed reader expectations.
- For novice writers, who have completed Story Structure Safari, and want to learn more about how to develop character and plot elements in their story.
- For writers who want to write more quickly by avoiding tangents and redundancies and wasted scenes that will ultimately be deleted because they don’t reveal character or move the plot forward.
Lisa Miller retired from teaching and counseling after 30 years. While she loved writing YA fiction, she has been drawn back into teaching. Not always finding the writing classes she needed; Lisa scoured the internet and how-to books for self-instruction. She funneled that knowledge into the creation of the Story Structure Safari class and merged it with her master teaching skills and experience with different learning styles. This is her ninth year to teach the class and she continues to update materials and expand her knowledge to best meet writer needs.
I took Story Structure Safari with Lisa Miller in October 2021. It was one of the most effective writer’s craft courses I have ever taken. Lisa’s course helped me gather in all the straggling pieces of my novel to form a coherent structure. She helped me round out a realistic heroine with strengths and flaws. She prompted me to think so creatively that my story ended up with a completely different beginning, middle and ending that made it way more interesting. I gave each assignment a lot of thought and so did Lisa. Her comments were brilliantly insightful. I printed the course lessons, my assignments, and Lisa’s notes for my library. I refer to them often for my WIP.
The ability to work with Lisa virtually last year jump-started my writing and kept me focused and sane even with the world in lockdown. It was a blessing to have time carved out to plot and scheme where this book needed to start before I invested fruitless hours churning out scenes that weren't pivotal to the story.
Zooming in to an important landmark scene and then zooming out to check the story's overarching climax and resolution was incredibly informative to make sure the book was staying on target or if not, figuring out what was missing.
Lisa listened very patiently as I talked about why I thought something was critical to include. She would then ask me questions to think about before the next call to see if there was a different way to leverage that point in a more active or engaging way or whether the sequence needed to shift forward or back in the story timeline to build the story intensity. She didn't shy away from using resources outside the Story Structure Safari lectures. She shared books, articles, and exercises from the likes of Larry Brooks, Lisa Cron, John Truby, Story Grid, and others. Any additional tool she knew of, she offered them to help me go deeper into the story and characters.
Lisa is a teacher at heart and works long after the Zoom call closes. I can't count how many times she would send me an early morning "this idea just came to me" email with four or five questions or a-has that popped up after the last conversation.
The way Lisa shifts through my sometimes complex and wonky verbal downloads to pluck out the relevant nuggets is astonishing to me. Then she'll reframe the idea to help me shape it into something more compelling and on target for the story I want to tell.
I personally don't spend money on many things. But if Lisa is offering a class or a coach session, I know regardless of the price, the time with her is worth every penny. Every single occasion I have worked with her, my story has been immeasurably better after our time together. To leverage Lisa's power combo of her teacher's heart and her story structure stuffed-full noggin is a no-brainer.
With Lisa's help, I plotted a four-book series using the Safari method--first book being Zone One, second book Zone Two, etc. The series has since been contracted to a major publisher, and I just spotted my first book on the shelves in Walmart (which of course means I have arrived).
I couldn't have done it without Lisa.
But even more than that, I know that I wouldn't be able to fulfill the contract I've signed without having learned to plot before writing. I'm still a pantser at heart, but having a plan to deviate from when the characters take over keeps me from wasting time trekking off in the wrong direction and then finding my way back again. (I used to teach first graders, so I equate the process with committing to a lesson plan while giving my students the freedom to find their gifts and talents along the way.)
If you're really serious about becoming a successful author, Lisa's help is worth every penny and then some. I'll keep coming back to her with every book and every series because she knows how to build the bones that will support the stories I need to tell.
I know what it's like to be a teacher at heart. You want nothing more than to see your students succeed. That's what Lisa is, and it's what she does.
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