Become a Writer Today

How to Find the Soul of Your Story with Roger Rueff

September 20, 2021 Bryan Collins
Become a Writer Today
How to Find the Soul of Your Story with Roger Rueff
Show Notes Transcript

My guest in this episode is Roger Reuff.  He developed the concept of the story having a soul. He wrote a book about it and has a course of the same name at soulofyourstory.com. 

Roger is multi-talented and has written several books and screenplays, one of which made into onto big screen, The Big Kahuna starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito.

Roger starts our interview with an overview of who he is and how he came up with his idea for finding the soul of a story.

In this episode we discuss: 

  • What writers should ask themself before they start on a book
  • Roger's three main approaches to writing
  • How Roger formats his writing
  • How he developed the concept of the Soul of your Story

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Roger: So, when I look at theme, first of all, I bring it down out of the sky. I don’t think of theme as a message to be written across the sky. To me, theme is something you would say to someone over a beer or over a coffee, you know? Just, you know, “I got you here for a second, let me tell you something,” you know? Just something kind of intimate.

Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: What’s your story about and how can you find the soul of your story? 

Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast. It’s always a good idea to figure out what your story is about before you start writing it. Some writers are pantsers. They like to write things, make them up as they go along. It’s kind of an approach that Stephen King does. Other writers like J. K. Rowling spend a lot of time meticulously planning the plot of their books and their series in advance. Now, I did try the pantser route for a while, didn’t work for me, so I switched to the plotter route and, although I mostly write nonfiction, what I found is if I spend a bit of time upfront outlining, you know, my book or the articles that I’m working on or whatever story I want to weave through whatever piece of long-form writing I’m working on, it’s much easier to write it because I found when I took the other approach and when I turned up and fired up Word or Scrivener, I just stared at the blank page and I didn’t know where to get going.


Now, that said, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a plotter or a pantser because you still do need to spend a little bit of time asking yourself, “What’s this story really about? Who is this story for? And what’s the soul of my story?” Now, the soul of my story is a concept that Roger Rueff has come up with. He writes about it in his book and also in his course of the same name at soulofyourstory.com. I recently had the chance to catch up with Roger. He’s actually a multi-talented guy. He’s written several books, screenplays, one of which was turned into the big screen called The Big Kahuna which starred Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, and I started by asking Roger to give listeners a flavor for who he is and then how he came up with his idea or his concept of the finding the soul of a story.


Now, before we get over to this week’s interview with Roger, if you enjoy the show, please consider leaving a short review on iTunes or sharing the show on Overcast or Stitcher or wherever you’re listening because more reviews or more ratings would help more people find the podcast. And if you really like it, you can, of course, become a Patreon. For just a couple of dollars a month, I’ll give you discounts on my writing books, courses, and software.


Actually, at the time of recording this interview, I’m in the middle of editing a parenting book, which is nonfiction, and I’m just waiting on getting the final round of edits back from my editor. It’s gone through I think three or four rounds of edits now at this stage so I’m looking forward to sharing the parenting book with you, if that’s something you’re interested in.

 Basically, it’s a non-fiction book. It’s all about the things that I wish I had known when I was 25 and our first son was born so I guess it’s a book for new dads, because what I found is when I was looking on Amazon and on the bookstores, a lot of parenting books were written from the point of view of the mother or the mom or they were written not necessarily for dads or, if they were, they were kinda more scientific or books, you know, books by doctors and so on. But there wasn’t really many books that would, you know, take you aside and say, “Well, look, this is what it’s really like when your first son is born.

This is what you can expect — or when your first daughter is born,” so I wanted to write something that was a bit more personal and I also wanted to move away from, I guess, kind of informational writing and business writing, which I focused on in the past when I was writing for publications like Forbes so I suppose I’m probably a little bit nervous about publishing this particular book because it contains a lot of embarrassing personal stories, mostly about me and all of the things that I got wrong, but I do want to take my writing in a different direction.
 
Now, when I wrote the book, I wasn’t aware of the concept of a story having a soul necessarily but I did know that it’s important to think about what a book is all about when you’re editing it or when you’re outlining it and I did come up with a premise for the book or a controlling idea and that’s something I’d recommend if you’re doing any long-form writing is to spend, you know, half an hour or an hour asking yourself what’s this really about and if you could summarize it in a single sentence and also summarize who it’s for because, in this case, I’m writing the book for new dads because if you try and write a book for everyone, well, then, no one is going to read it. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see whether people read my book so I’ll keep you posted.

Now, with that said, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Roger Rueff and I started by asking him to give listeners a flavor for his background and then we get into his concept of discovering the soul of a story and Roger also has a course, if you’re interested, and a free webinar where you can learn a little bit more about his approach to storytelling and I’ll include the webinar link in the show notes and I’d encourage you to sign up if you’re interested in learning more about the craft of storytelling.

Bryan: Roger, would you be able to give listeners a flavor for who you are and your background?

Roger: Sure, yeah, and the background actually plays into the story development technique that I have which is, frankly, pretty unique. The background, the most significant background is that my formal education has nothing to do with the liberal arts. I’m an engineer by training and I have a PhD in chemical engineering and I have a couple of patents. 

I used to work research at Amoco Oil Company way back before it became BP and the reason that I came to creative writing through the side door, is what I like to call it, because it’s something I did in my spare time, sort of ease my mind when I wasn’t watching television after days of just looking at equations all day long for 18 hours a day and so I started to see some success in it and I had some early success with a play that, the poster is behind me, the play was called Hospitality Suite and it was produced at South Coast Repertory Theater and when that happened, I had to approach the issue of how do you write a story, how do you tell a story, how do you get inside a story, but, as an engineer, one of the things you look for is first principles, you know?  What are the basics of storytelling? 

And so I try to look at it from a perspective outside of a classic liberal arts training and see if there were like fundamental elements that I could use to understand storytelling and, over the course of time, I went back to my journals when I first started writing the book because I was trying to figure things out. One of the things that had never satisfied me from the beginning of exploring it was the whole, what I call the old saw, which is that your protagonist must want something. 

First of all, I use the term “main character” instead of “protagonist” because protagonist, to me, at least implies that there’s an antagonist, which there is not always. Sometimes, nature itself or the inner nature of someone can be their opposing force. But, secondly, what bothered me about the phrase “your character must want something” is that it didn’t seem powerful enough because it seemed like there was a universe of things that the character could want and it wasn’t helpful in the storytelling. 

So, as I dug down into it, I started to look for analogies in nature and in the games we play and in the animal world and in the things that we do, considering that we all evolved from the same source to come up and behave the way that we do and, first of all — and the first biggest shift I made was shifting from the idea of focusing on the want to focusing on the intent because, as I say in the book, you can sit at the breakfast table and want something but nothing happens story-wise until a character puts on their gloves and goes to work to try to get it which implies an intent. So then I started looking at individual intents and could they be classified in some way.

Bryan: Yeah.

Roger: Because what I was looking for, I don’t wanna be formulaic, I just wanted to get down to what I call first principles. It’s like the atomic theory of matter when it came early in the 20th century. This was new. I mean, it had been inferred early on but it was new and it was a different way of looking at the world, relativity, not to say that my method is equivalent to relativity, to physics, but it was a different way of looking at the world and it’s a way that lets you understand it in a way you wouldn’t coming through the ordinary methods of doing so, which was, at the time, classical physics.

And when I did that, one of the analogies I looked for was gaming, and particularly American football, and I started to think about what the teams are really after and, you know, on the surface, it’s that they’re after scoring as many points as they can but that’s not really true and the same would be true of what I call soccer, which you call football, is that that’s not the treasure. There’s a treasure that the two teams are after and that treasure is simply the lead, to have the lead when the game stops. And in an American football game, there’s, I mean, it’s 60 minutes, you don’t get extra time or anything like that but that’s what they’re after. So, if you look at it in terms of the lead, you say that there are three different types of intent with regard from what a team can do.

At the beginning of the game, neither team has the lead and so they’re trying to gain it because this is something they’ve never had before is this treasure, the lead. And then, when one scores, now they have it and their intent shifts. Their intent is no longer to gain this precious treasure, the lead. Their shift is to keep what they have and so it can change their entire strategy. Some teams might, if they’ve got a great offense, they might try to score more and more and more and, therefore, keep this treasure, the lead. Others, if they have a terrific defense, they’ll just focus now on stopping the other team from scoring. So their intent has changed.

The first team that hasn’t scored yet, their intent stays the same, “We have to get this treasure.” Okay, then let’s say the second team scores and they actually get the treasure so now they’re in the lead. All right, now, their shift is to maintaining that lead, and the team that scored first, their intent is to try to get it back, to try to regain it. And when I looked at things this way, it suddenly struck me that I could classify any intent on the part of any person, any character, in one of three ways: to either gain a treasure that she has never possessed, regain a treasure that she possessed at one time, or try to keep a treasure that she currently has but is under threat of attack.

And when I looked at this, I started to see parallels in stories that don’t seem to have common elements and yet do thematically and in the structure of the story and in the intent of the main character and two that I can think of right off the bat are Casablanca, the film Casablanca, and the novella, A Christmas Carol, because when I look at, for example, A Christmas Carol and I look at what is Scrooge’s intent in the whole thing. Well, his intent is to keep his miserly world intact so he’s what I call a keep character. I have three types of characters: gain, regain, or keep.

He’s trying to keep his world intact because it’s being threatened and attacked by these Christmas ghosts that want to change the way he lives, change the way he works with things. And, in the original story, he gives up rather early but in all of the treatments after that, it’s taken a while for him to get there, but that’s his fight, which is interesting, because when you look at that particular story that way, and also Casablanca, the main character loses. He fails in his intent to keep his world intact and we’re happy about it and I think that’s an interesting insight. So, here’s a story where the main character fails —

Bryan: So it sounds like the first item that you mentioned reminded me of the hero’s journey in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker is seeking a treasure.

Roger: Yeah.

Bryan: He wants to rescue Princess Leia.

Roger: And he’s a regain character and then you look at Lord of the Rings when Frodo, throughout the whole Lord of the Rings, Frodo is a regain character. He wants to get the ring back to the place it originated from because that’s gonna make everything better. In the story, Back to

Bryan: Whereas the other characters want to protect Middle Earth from —

Roger: Right.

Bryan: — Sauron.

Roger: Yeah, so they’re keep characters and Sauron wants to gain this ring to get his ultimate power. You look at a movie like Back to the Future, Marty McFly, the very first part of the movie, Marty McFly is thrown 30 years into the past. His whole journey then is to try to regain his proper position in the world.

And in a movie like Casablanca, you say, “Okay, well, what kind of character is Rick?” Rick is a keep character because, like Scrooge, he’s got a tight little defined world that’s working for him. We don’t, as the audience, don’t think it’s particularly great. We think there’s a better one but it’s working for him and it gets attacked by Ilsa and Victor and everybody else who’s attacking this issue of should you maintain this tight world around yourself and, in the end, like Scrooge, he loses and we’re happy about it because he’s a better person for it. 

So, when I started looking at these things, then what it does is it pinpoints the question, I’m no longer asking, “What does my protagonist want?” I’m asking, “What does my main character intend to gain, regain, or keep?” It’s gonna be one of those three and it helps me define what their true treasure is and it also affects the structure of the story and everything else. So that’s it in a nutshell and then it ties, in the second part of the book, I tie it into how it relates to theme and thematic elements.

Bryan: Are these questions that a writer should ask upfront before they start their story or their book?

Roger: Well, they can. I think it depends on how you approach your story. Some people like to outline a lot, they like to think a lot before they start writing. Others just go down, dig, and see what happens. 

Now, what I’ve seen happen recently, I had somebody contact me in the fall, a former student from years ago who was having trouble with a screenplay she’s writing and it was, at the time, it was about 100 pages long and when she contacted me, she said, “I got to page 65 and it just dies. 

The energy just dies and I don’t know why,” so I took a look at the screenplay and I said, “Well, here’s the reason, you know? Here’s your main character, here’s why it’s dying,” which I could do because of this analysis, “and here’s what you need to do to fix it,” and she did in her second draft. I mean, she’s still working on it, but her second draft looks fabulous because — and it was engaging and the energy didn’t die and it was all an artifact of using this method of looking at a story to help you fix what’s wrong, because I’ve been through that case.  

Maybe you have too, where you’re writing a story and, all of a sudden, either it just stops and you can’t figure out how to go on or it starts taking off in a hundred different directions and you don’t know which one to follow and you start to worry because it seems like, “I’ve spent all this time working on this piece and it’s all gonna be for naught.
 
I’m gonna end up with this pile of story debris that’s just gonna go nowhere,” and so what I wanted to do was create effectively a language, just like you can write an infinite number of equations with some very basic mathematical language, I wanted to take that same approach to storytelling, to approach it in a way where, “Here’s fundamental elements, look for these.” It’s not gonna curb your creativity but it will help you get past blocks, get past problems, rein it in when it’s going in a hundred directions, find the one that’s true.

Bryan: Those questions, should you also ask them for the other characters in the story?

Roger: They do — you should but, to me, it’s all about the main character. I think the main character has four main jobs. The main character is the vehicle through which we experience the story because, to me, every story has a landscape. It’s got an emotional landscape, it’s got a physical landscape, an events landscape, and to really get into the story, we need to be able to enter the story through a character, not as a character.

I’m not thinking of gaming where you actually become part of the story, but sympathetically through a character so that’s one of the jobs of the main character. The main character’s progress is also — our goal is also what gives us a sense of progress and lets us know intuitively are they getting closer, are they getting farther away, are they not moving anywhere, in which case things are kind of stuck. They carry the theme of the story.

So, these are elements that the main character — in my opinion, the main character is really it, but the main character is part of a core ensemble and the core ensemble is the characters that are closest to the main character who — one of their primary functions to me is either to act as allies or opponents and also to express a different light on the issue of the story. Thematically, what is the issue? An example that I use for that is the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral which I just loved and the thing about it is Charlie, the main character, has one central issue really through the whole thing is finding a soulmate and he’s got this history where he’s dated a lot of girls and then he sees Andie MacDowell’s character and she’s — he feels that she’s his soulmate and then complications arise. 

But if you look at his ensemble, because there are all these other people who are around him, every one of them has some light to shed on that issue of finding a soulmate, even right after Gareth’s funeral, the character who dies, Charlie is talking to the very wealthy English character who’s kind of a bungler and he actually — they have this conversation right outside the church where the other character says to him, “You know, I think your problem, Charlie, is you always thought there — or you think there is someone, one person for you. I’ve never felt that way. I just thought if I found a girl who didn’t mind the looks of me and I didn’t mind the looks of her and we got along, that would be it.” So that’s a different view of the whole idea of finding a soulmate. It’s different from his view, it’s different from the other people in what I call the core ensemble around the main character. But, for me, the main thing is the main character.

Bryan: You mentioned students that you coached and how you helped them fix issues in their story. I’ve certainly had issues in my stories over the years. So I write mostly non-fiction these days. Does a process like this work for non-fiction?

Roger: You know, I would say — I actually take this attitude in real life when I’m looking at what people are doing. If it’s something expository, I would say not so much. I mean, I think it’s interesting insight but it’s not the kind of thing that would direct you — or maybe it would, I don’t know, if you take a look at the book, maybe you’ll find ways to do that. I teach business writing. I wouldn’t use this in that sense, particularly. I think it’s mostly about fiction writing.

Bryan: Okay. Yeah, I was just more thinking of telling a story in perhaps memoir or, you know, personal essays or that type of non-fiction writing rather than necessarily some informational piece of content that a business might publish.

Roger: Well, the memoir issue is actually interesting because my wife is writing a memoir. She had some interesting events happened when she was a girl and so we’ve talked about it and when I’ve read her early draft, she’s now to the point where it’s getting out to other readers but, of course, that informed how I looked at them. 

The interesting thing about memoir is that you have to take a clear look at who is the main character because, technically, in memoir, it should be the person that’s writing the book. I remember early on when she was first learning to write memoir that, in her classes, it turned out that a lot of the women who were writing memoirs, the other people in the class would read their memoirs and they’d say, “Well, this is not really about you. This is about your husband. This is about your children. It’s about everything” —

Bryan: Yeah.

Roger: — and so, how can you focus on that? So, for memoir, I think, yes, it could do that. Documentary, I would — any kind of expository work, I would say probably not.

Bryan: So, in the book, there are three approaches: the grok Approach, Thematic Imprinting, and Meta-adaption. Has what you described so far covered those approaches?

Roger: It’s mostly covered the grok approach and I’ve touched on the thematic imprinting, and thematic imprinting is just, to me, it’s how do you develop a common language to talk about theme so when you talk about the theme of the story, it’s not sort of a vague thing, that there’s a specific way we can talk about theme and when I look at that, the way that made the most sense to me was to think of it as advice and, yes, I know there’s the old classic quote of, “If you wanna send a message, get Western Union,” that’s attributed either to Hemingway or to Frank Capra but, especially in popular films or largely produced works, the audience certainly sits in judgment of the action that goes on.

We hope for things to happen or we hope things don’t happen and we’re disappointed or we’re pleased at the end with what happens, which, to me, it’s a way of the author making a case for a certain piece of advice and the pieces of advice we typically give each other are you should or you should not, you know? You’re sitting over a beer with somebody and saying, “You know what, you should get that looked at,” or, “You know what, you shouldn’t do…” I mean, seriously, it’s as small as that. “You should do this,” “You should not do that.” And we do it with regard to what we hope is the success of our piece of advice so when I look at theme, first of all, I bring it down out of the sky.

I don’t think of theme as a message to be written across the sky. To me, theme is something you would say to someone over a beer or over a coffee, you know? Just, you know, “I got your ear for a second, let me tell you something,” you know? Just something kind of intimate and when you think of theme that way, it brings it — you can relax and you can just say, “You should do this,” and then, of course, the question is what should you do, what is the piece of advice, and why.

Why and how, because they play big into it. One of the examples I use in the course that I teach, this DSYS 101 course, is let’s say you take the issue of disciplining your children as just a major issue. You know, there’s been debate about that for thousands of years. There are good points and there are bad points. Well, if I tell a story where a character disciplines his children with love to try to help them get on better in the world and he’s kind but he’s firm, etc., okay, that’s one story about — and the theme is disciplining your child well and the issue is disciplining your child.

Now, if I tell a story where you’ve got a character who has anger management issues and disciplines his children with violence, selfishness and violence, that’s a main character that I’m gonna hope fails. So, the issue is the same, the argument is different for them, and that, to me, is part of what theme is about is theme, to me, is the author making an argument which they could do either through exposition or they could do by telling a story and showing what happens if you do this and this and this.

What are the complications? What are the rewards? What are the harms if this happens? Rather than a scientific paper or even a blog post about, “Here’s why you should do x and y and z.” Instead of that, show me a case where somebody did x and y and z, bring me into it sympathetically where I identify with that person or the characters that are affected by that person, and then show me the outcome and that’s a passionate argument which, to me, is much more difficult to ignore.

Bryan: So, I’m currently reading a book called The Art of Dramatic Writing. I feel like you might have read it. It’s fairly well-known if anybody’s interested in storytelling. But, anyway, in this book and also in Robert McKee’s works, they talk about a story having a controlling idea or a premise so it’s a single statement and that sounds a little bit like what you were describing with a conversation with a friend over a beer. Do you recommend a writer actually come up with this piece of advice or single statement?

Roger: Well, it depends. That’s what I think is unique about my method. You can start anywhere. You can start with a thematic statement or a common idea and then build characters around it to do it. You can start with a character that you just wanna write about and you don’t know why. You just like — you wanna see this character in this situation and let’s see what happens. 

And what I have found is that you find the intent for that person, you find the theme for that person, you find almost everything, a little kernel of the story, it’s holographic, a little DNA for the — you find it in the inciting incident, the thing that causes the story to go forward. That’s where you really find it. But — and so thematic imprinting is just my way of expanding on this idea of there being a story idea and giving us a way to think consistently about it from story to story to story, but it doesn’t prescribe a starting point.

Bryan: Okay, okay. So, at the start of the interview, you described your background and it’s probably very different to creative work. I mean, you said you have a PhD and your background is in engineering. Do you bring any of that mindset to the scripts that you write? Do you have an analytical approach that you use?

Roger: I do and, in a lot of cases, I try to suppress it because it’s easy. It’s actually like — I happen to love golf. I don’t know why, because I’m not on the Tour, but I love the game and I love the game philosophically. I love — I just love it about — it’s about awareness, it’s about control, it’s about certain things. To play it really well, you have to know where the body needs to be at certain points and here are the physics and yada, yada, yada. When it comes to the actual shot, you have to forget about all that.

Bryan: Yeah.

Roger: You can’t be thinking about, at the most, more than one thing. And if you’re fortunate, actually, I’m just looking at a new system online of a guy whose work I trust, he claims to have developed a system where you swing and you’re not thinking about anything and I think that’s fantastic. So I try — I don’t consciously think when I’m writing a story, “Oh, well, now, I need to do this because of this,” but what I will do is go back and look at whatever I’ve written in the context of the thing that I’ve created, the grok approach and thematic imprinting and everything else, as a way to analyze it. Sort of the way that — in that way, the whole system is kind of like an MRI, you know? The MRI didn’t invent the body but it can tell you things about the body that you wouldn’t know unless you used it.

Bryan: Yeah, there’s another story expert called Shawn Coyne who — his approach partly involves putting all of the scenes into a spreadsheet, like just the title of the scene, and figuring out the turning point of each scene and the key characters and what happens and how it evolves the story. So, it’s a way of zooming out and seeing the structure as a whole. So, I was kind of curious if you had some sort of analytical approach like that as well.

Roger: You know, I tried that years ago and it didn’t work for me. I get it and I — there are aspects of it I clearly like, especially when it comes to assembling the whole thing. What I’m doing now, for example, I’m working on a novel right now and I use Microsoft Word and each of the chapter headings is in the Heading Level 1 Style so I can look at the little menu on the side and I see exactly — I know which character is featured in that section and what the chapter is so I — and it’s easy enough to just grab them and move them around. My wife I know uses a program called Scrivener —

Bryan: Yeah —

Roger: — which apparently —

Bryan: Yeah, it’s very good for long-form —

Roger: She loves it.

Bryan: Yeah.

Roger: She thinks it’s terrific.

Bryan: Yeah. Word is good too. So, do you spend a lot of time writing? Because I know you have other interests as well, apart from golf, but you have your course, which we’ll talk about in a moment.

Roger: Not as much as I should but I’m increasing that.

Bryan: Yeah. And, I mean, you’ve written non-fiction, screenplays, and now you said you’re writing a novel. Do you have a preferred format or do you just like to see what idea you have and where I suppose your muse takes you?

Roger: I guess I think mostly in terms of dramatic fiction, you know, plays and screenplays. I was very, very fortunate early on to be able to have — and there’s a whole sequence of events that I won’t go into that got me actually to be able to write the screenplay for The Big Kahuna which was tremendous and that’s opened the doors. I’ve seen the play produced around the world. I’ve seen the play produced in Madrid and Rome and Zagreb and it’s all been wonderful. 

So I guess I think of dramatic fiction first because that was what sort of was the step up for me. I’d written short stories, I’d written poetry, but it wasn’t until I tried to get involved in dramatic writing, via a place called Chicago Dramatists back when I lived in Chicago, that things sort of took off. And, actually, I came to it from community theater because when I was working research, I started acting in community theater and it was actually the first time that I’d ever read plays. 

And as soon as I picked up a play, I thought, “Well, this is a language I understand. I could see writing this,” and then, of course, there’s a lot of work involved in developing the craft but that’s my primary one. The novel is actually new to me and it’s freeing in that I can — in a play, particularly, all you have to work with are what the characters do and what they say. You can’t get into their heads, you can’t see what they’re like, you can’t — and in a play, you have to really watch out what’s producible, if you’re gonna go back and forth in time or back and forth in location. You’re kind of restricted, which is okay. I mean, it makes you take the play maybe in directions it wouldn’t otherwise go. But a novel seems very freeing to me in that way and that’s one of the reasons I’m working on one now.

Bryan: Yeah, I hadn’t considered those constraints of a play before. So, your course, Soul of Your Story, what can students expect or where can they find more information?

Roger: They can find information at my website, which is soulofyourstory.com. Go to the Classroom page and you’ll see I’ve got a webinar that — I’ll be teaching the second one on April 22 and then the first of the new format, I call it the new format, of the course I call DSYS 101, Discovering the Soul of Your Story 101, that begins in April and I’ll be doing more throughout the year. It’s a six-week intensive online course. There are five lessons. You get a lot of interaction with me — the students will get a lot of interaction with me and then several sessions with their fellow students to discuss what’s going on within each of their scripts.
 
There’s a forum they can post questions, they can answer questions, and it’s a fairly intensive process for six weeks. I used to offer the course completely self-paced, to take at your leisure, and there — some people took a year to complete it all and I wanted to compress that. I wanted to do two things with what I call the new format, which is increase my interaction with them so this is not just a course that you sign up online, look at a video, answer some questions, someone may get back to you with a few answers, and then you’re done. This is not like that. 

This is handholding. This is — the student has to have a work in progress that they’re currently working on and, by comparing that to published or produced work that they particularly admire, we study both of them and I study both of them with them in order to really get down to the nuts and bolts of what they have.

Bryan: I presume that can be a novel as well as a screenplay. It doesn’t have to be —

Roger: Novels, screenplay, play, short story, fits them all.

Bryan: Yeah.

Roger: And I’ve got examples on the site. I’ve got what I call the Library on the site which is Story Analyses using — well, Story Analyses and there’s Field — what I call Field Notes which are comments about how to use, well, just general comments, author notes, but the Story Analyses show the viewer how to take a look at what’s behind the scenes of a particular story in the context of the method that I’m teaching —

Bryan: Okay.

Roger: — and that’s why they’re available. And some of them, you have to sign in to the website to get but membership is free so just go to the Login/Logout page and you can sign in for free. Soulofyourstory.com

Bryan: Okay, I’ll put a link to the webinar in the show notes and, yes, soulofyourstory.com, but, yeah, Roger, it’s very nice to talk to you today.

Roger: Yeah, thank you very — I’m happy to be here. Thank you for asking me.

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