The 16 Story Steps

The 16 Story Steps, the Breakthrough Paradigm

From the time filmmakers first tried to conceptualize how screen stories work, they have been looking for a model that reveals the dynamic structure of screenplays in detail without limiting their creative options––illuminating without confining. The Sixteen Story Steps is exactly such a breakthrough in conceptualizing story development.

The Sixteen Story Steps are a fresh concept, based on years of research into the problems of story construction, especially Act II of full-length movies. Story Steps are not the same as sequences; nor are they “plot points.” This new concept looks below the superficial structure, the “skin” of the story, to reveal the vertebrae that make up the spine of the story. Our own spines are more than a collection of bones strung together: every bone needs to be where it is for the whole to function. The spine carries the nervous system that brings vitality and articulation to the entire body. In the same way, the Story Steps have a necessary organization that carries the three-dimensional vitality of the Deep Core of the story into every scene and moment.

Since we first introduced this model in 1998, participants in our seminars have been fascinated by it and have asked to learn more about it. This is our first seminar devoted exclusively to The Sixteen Story Steps, and a great opportunity for you to gain insights into how stories work that have not been available before.

Through lecture demonstrations, comparative film clips, and special direct-learning exercises, you will get to know the inner anatomy of stories that generates the essential dramatic unity of plot/character/theme/style. You will learn the functions of each Story Step and how they work and interact together. The Sixteen Story Steps have the power to make you a better writer, as they allow you to navigate through the Deep Core of your stories with skill and confidence. Through the Story Steps, you will come to know your own creative intentions better, and be better able to communicate your story to your creative partners.

You will learn:

  • How to use The Sixteen Story Steps in the early stages of writing to save you time and work
  • How The Sixteen Story Steps can take the anxiety out of writing Act II by giving you an advanced guidance system
  • How to use The Sixteen Story Steps when you have finished a draft to test the solidity and power of your dramatic construction
  • How to refine a tighter unity of plot/character/theme/style according to your own creative intentions and goals