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The 5 Essentials of Immersive Storytelling

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Storytelling is the most complete form of communication on the planet, and by far the most addictive. Well-told stories bypass our internal censors and go straight to hearts and memories, which is why when it comes to creating fictional worlds in any medium, immersion is the goal of goals—transporting your audience to a place rippling with believability and characters worthy of their attention. Forgetting where they are (or even what time it is), is the kind of feeling audiences crave, and once you’ve achieved it, you can do anything.


This is a How To seminar, but it isn’t about how to write; more specifically, it’s about how to see and digest story in a new way—a way that allows you to peer through the invisible wall of story, one designed to prompt emotion and attention, to the cogs that churn it forward. The Essentials unpack five techniques of storytelling in a straightforward and reproducible way.


If you’re looking for a practical crash course in plot or formula, this isn’t it. The Five Essentials are not about adhering to structure; they are a way of better understanding how stories work on us and why. With the goal of immersion in mind, you’ll learn why hooks aren’t just necessary at the beginning of a story but throughout one. You’ll immediately recognize the most visceral of storytelling techniques when it’s revealed to you, and why it has two distinct branches. We’ll also explore a fundamental building block of cause & effect that frequently goes missing in commercial storytelling, but is actually integral to commercial success. On top of these, you’ll learn how to deal with the issue of audience relatability by asking yourself a basic question when composing your stories, and lastly, we’ll delve into why anchoring a story with concrete, specific details that pass the gut test convinces your audience about the authenticity of your world and keeps them hooked.


Who should attend: writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, actors, & editors.


Requirements: a notebook and pen or pencil.


By the end of this class, you’ll know how to: 
  1. Streamline your story concepts by generating your own 5-Line Stories.
  2. Examine a story in any medium and immediately diagnose: 1) why its telling is or is not successful, and 2) how it captures and keeps an audience or fails to do so.
  3. You’ll not only be able to locate Essentials in successful works, but you’ll have a sense of which ones to steal effectively for your own purposes: using similar techniques in conversation, on the page, or visually.


About the Instructor: Ryan Gattis (@Ryan_Gattis) is a Creative Writing Lecturer at Chapman University with a focus on prose fiction and writing for video games. He holds an M.A. from the University of East Anglia (UK) and is the author of novels Roo Kickkick & the Big Bad Blimp and Kung Fu High School, which was optioned by The Weinstein Company. His most recent work is a 2-part noir novella series, The Big Drop (HomecomingImpermanence), set in L.A.’s Little Tokyo.