John Yorke Story: Story for Business

Learn how to bring your business stories to life with bestselling author John Yorke and brand writer Nick Parker

A good story, well told, echoes how our minds make sense of the world. Whether it’s websites, case studies, reports or presentations, everything we write in business draws on elements of story. And in a world saturated with a million messages, this is golden: stories will always cut through.

This seven-week course, run with our partners at John Yorke Story, will introduce you to the principles of story structure, as set out in John Yorke’s bestselling book, Into the Woods. You’ll learn why the shape of stories is hardwired into our brains and how you can use this knowledge to transform your business and marketing communications. You’ll see why some stories inspire and engage audiences — and why some don’t. You’ll experiment with different story-structure techniques to develop your skills. Finally, you’ll apply what you’ve learned by writing your own business stories.


This course has been made possible by the support of Creative Skillset, and has been approved as part of an informal or formal continuing professional development (CPD) programme.


Start date: 11 June 2018
Duration: 7 weeks
Skill level: Intermediate
Session length: Weekly
Sessions: 6
Price: £1,500 (inc. VAT)

Course Director
Course Director

We’ve developed the Story for Business course for individuals and organisations looking to develop and apply a practical understanding of the mechanics of good storytelling.

It’s for anyone who needs to communicate as part of their job. From brand and marketing communicators, internal and external communications teams, HR teams, and anyone who needs to write briefs and case studies. You don’t need any previous experience and you can take the course for personal or formal professional development.

We teach this course in groups of up to 15 people. You can book as an individual for the group course, and businesses and brands can block-book a dedicated class exclusively for their teams.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Are a novice storyteller and want to learn how stories work and how to plan and structure your narratives
  • Are a seasoned professional and want to refresh your skills, learn new ones and improve your knowledge of how stories work, and how you can apply this to your work
  • Are developing online content for businesses, charities and other organisations and want to understand how to use stories
  • Want to learn how to select, develop and realise your ideas
  • Are keen to master story structure
  • Would like to see the underlying framework behind all stories everywhere
  • Need to discover why your business stories aren’t working — and how to fix them
  • Want to gain the confidence to create your own brand or business stories
  • Are looking for a CPD (Continuing Professional Development) course
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of learners
  • Can dedicate 5-7 hours per week for the duration of the course

The course is based on studying and applying the five-act structure set out in John Yorke’s acclaimed book, Into The Woods. John has worked with brand and business writer Nick Parker to tailor the course so it’s packed with brand- and business-focused themes, examples and exercises.

Over seven weeks, we’ll look in detail at the act structure of stories, protagonists and antagonists, inciting incidents, climaxes and resolutions. We'll also look at the big things they can teach us to apply to business communication.

Your tutor will introduce you to how stories work in business, teach you the building blocks needed to write a compelling narrative and fix broken stories, and guide you as you write two short business stories. Along the way, you’ll be working within a supportive community of fellow writers keen to share their experiences with you.

Session 1: The shape of all stories
Session 2: Finding your heroes and villains
Session 3: Getting the best out of conflict
Session 4: Keeping your audience on the edge of their seats
Session 5: How to avoid telling bad stories
Session 6: Putting it into action


We teach this course in our online classroom, which is open 24/7 so you can fit learning around your work, family and friends. You’ll work in a small group of learners so you can discuss ideas, ask questions and share your writing as you progress through the weekly sessions.

You’ll learn from:

  • Short podcasts from John Yorke and Nick Parker
  • Short videos from John Yorke and/or other industry experts
  • Written guidance notes and carefully selected reading and viewing lists devised by John Yorke and Nick Parker
  • Practical exercises and prompts, devised by John and Nick to help you experiment and practise your skills
  • Guest lectures from industry experts
  • Guided discussions with your group
  • Live chatroom sessions with your group and tutor to give you the opportunity to ask questions
  • The opportunity to share your work and give and receive feedback from fellow writers
  • Tutor feedback on your two business stories at the end of the course

You’ll need:

  • 5-7 hours per week to work through the course
  • A notebook and pen or pencil, if you like to make notes by hand
  • Access to the following films on DVD or via streaming sites:
    • Jaws, Cars, Inside Out and Steve Jobs
  • A laptop or computer* with:
    • A reliable broadband internet connection
    • Speakers or headphones
    • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, or Safari
    • Microsoft Word. If you don’t have this you can download Open Office free
    • Adobe Reader, latest version. Download free
    • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free

*You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.


Join our alumni

After your course, you can join our online alumni where you’ll meet our growing network of past students. The alumni is a friendly group of writers who support each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing.

Within our online alumni area you can:

  • Rejoin your classmates on a private forum, together with access to an archived version of your course materials and forum posts
  • Meet alumni from other courses and groups and share your writing for feedback
  • Join discussions about reading, writing and ideas
  • Retain access to our online resources area, which we constantly update with interesting and informative links
  • Chat with other people in our online alumni chatroom. We also host live chats with guest tutors here

Mentoring and one-to-one feedback

The John Yorke Story tutor team offer mentoring, script reads and reports. We are happy to quote by job or script, or to arrange a longer mentoring scheme as you work on a specific story idea. We’ll create a package to suit you, so for more information please email

Taking things further

If you would like to continue on to another Professional Writing Academy, or John Yorke Story course, you'll receive a 15% discount.


Watch John Yorke and Nick Parker discussing why businesses need stories 

Watch John Yorke and Nick Parker discussing how businesses can use stories 

Watch John Yorke being interviewed by the Market Research Society 


Listen to John Yorke in conversation with Jonathan Schwabish on the PolicyViz podcast

Listen to John Yorke explaining how to create business stories people care about

Listen to John Yorke explain how story techniques give your business communications more impact


What our students say...

The course has made me aware that there’s now a whole thing called brand storytelling that often isn’t storytelling at all. I also liked the helpful critique, support and conversations that came from the community aspect of the course.


What our students say...

I have already started applying what I have learned on the course. In particular, when we have a potential new client and have to pull together a proposal. Identifying what they need, what they specifically want and what the forces of antagonism are has been really useful.


What our students say...

When it comes to business writing, the point about passive protagonists is very helpful, because so many business briefs can be unambitious, and would benefit from being challenged a bit. This course gives a good framework for making those challenges.


What our students say...

The course has such a wealth of useful, practical examples from business and film to help really bring the theory to life. It is hard to pin down one greatest learning from all this; perhaps it is that great stories are about fighting something — injustice, character flaws, baddies — and that it is also really important to make people care. A lot of business content can be dry and lifeless, but this course shows us great opportunities to make it really engaging.


What our students say...

I’ve really enjoyed this course and its well-balanced mix of film and business-focused tasks. While it’s simple enough to recognise a successful business story, I’ve realised it’s another thing entirely to pinpoint the reasons for its success and understand how to recreate that in your work.


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Price: £1,500 (inc. VAT)
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