Cracking The Master Storyteller's Code

(Note: The following material was prepared for a seminar delivered to the Celebrity Center International Professional Writers Association in Hollywood California on December 17th 2008.)


Although I've been writing, pretty much, my whole life - I always felt I was missing something, that there was something about this writing stuff that I didn't quite understand; couldn't quite wrap my wits around.

I'm kind of obsessed with writing. I've read lots of books on the subject; attended workshops, seminars, etc. But there was always something missing.

Then a few years ago something clicked when I asked myself a simple question which turned out to be: "the exact right question".

The pursuit of the answer to that question set in motion a rolling set of revelations that lasted two years and, in fact, is still going strong.

In those two years I finished two novels, totaling over 1,000 pages and I wrote over 155 essays on the subject of writing, totaling another 1,000 pages.

What I'm going to share with you tonight is the CORE of what I discovered in those two years. I call it...

"Cracking The Master Storyteller's Code"


This is the first in a series in which I'll cover 5 key points regarding writing and then I'm going to share - the single most powerful technique in the writer's bag of tricks.

The following applies to all mediums and formats of storytelling; novels, screenplays, plays, short stories, etc.

Regarding this subject of writing there is a situation:

Although we've been telling each other stories for millions of years, somehow along the way; the exact rules of the game have gotten lost, become obscured, or been purposefully hidden.

Until we find ourselves at this interesting juncture.

When I search for books on how to "write novels" Amazon returns over 30,000 titles; and yet the publishing industry goes hungry, while tens of thousands of manuscripts are rejected every year.

The above and numerous other sources reveal these conflicting facts:

  • Lots of people want books to read
  • Lots of people trying to write them
  • Tons on books on the subject of writing
  • Very few novels getting published
  • Of the published novels - 75% don't sell and are shredded into recycled paper
  • Only 6% make enough money to cover the writers advance
Something is wrong. These facts don't add up.

There must be a reason, a big reason for this discrepancy. Something akin to an elephant in the living room, something so large and improbable that although everyone is walking around it, it's so large and so un-confrontable that no one can see it.

This "elephant in the living room" seems to be the technology of storytelling itself.

Despite the fact of over 30 thousand books on the subject of writing fiction; the subject is obviously not adequately organized, understood or being taught. If the subject were actually understood and being adequately practiced then we wouldn't have a 94% failure ratio - and that's just considering the manuscripts that are published. If we factor in all those tens of thousands of writers with rejected manuscripts in their drawers, the success ratio must be considerably less than 1%. And if we go even further; and include all those who make the attempt (of writing a novel) but never even finish it. The odds of success must be lower than winning the lottery - millions to one.

It appears that the subject of "writing fiction" is in a state of Confusion.

The only way for a subject to fall into such a state would be if many of its Stable Datums were not well known or aligned. With the stable datums of this subject poorly known or understood they can not be adequately taught. And not being taught would explain why they are not being successfully implemented by writers.

The teacher can't teach, nor the student learn: a non-system.

Only to the degree that a subject is systematized can it be taught, learned or practiced.

With no systematization - we have a crap shoot.

So, where do we start?

(In logic: Datum - is a known or assumed fact that is used as the basis for a theory, conclusion, or to deduce other datums. The Senior Datum (or senior fact) for any subject is the datum upon which all other datums relating to the subject are aligned.)

Therefore, the entrance point to this subject is - its senior datum.

Therefore, the correct identification of this subject's senior datum is crucial.

Which brings me back to the "exact right question" that I mentioned earlier. "What is the writer's Valuable Final Product"? By Valuable Final Product is meant that thing which all the writer's actions add up to - what he produces and exchanges with his public for money and support.

The answer to that question provides the Senior Datum and reveals the front door to the entire subject we call "writing".

In this series we will reveal not only the Senior Datum of this fiction writing business but 4 other key datums, and lastly the single most powerful tool in the fiction writer's bag of tricks.

6 Senior facts upon which everything else one wishes to understand about the subject writing fiction relies.

Watch your e-mail box.

Until then... write on!

Richard A. McCullough

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.