Into the Woods author
  • Storytelling has a shape

    It dominates the way all of us tell stories
    Whoever we are, for whatever purpose we tell them
    Wherever we are in the world

  • Book and course distilled from 25 years experience

    Writing, producing and teaching
    Directing and commissioning
    The best of UK TV drama

Story for Business: what business can learn from the movies

A six-week online course based on John Yorke's Into the Woods, the bestselling book on story structure.

You will learn why stories work in the way they do and how this understanding can benefit your communications and broader engagement with clients, partners and employees.

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.

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Creative Skillset Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent by providing investment for individuals and businesses to grow.Story for Business (6-week intensive):

starts 6 February 2017, £1,500  Book your place now

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • New online business communications tool

  • Apply dramatic storytelling principles for better business communications

  • Learn online in 6 week, 40-hour course with flexible, proven CPD learning model

  • Suitable for freelancers and sole traders as well as business employees

  Read All Stories are the Same: John writes in The Atlantic

Once you understand how stories affect the human brain, you can do business differently.

Telling Stories for Business is a six-week online course based on Into the Woods, John Yorke’s bestselling book on story structure. You’ll discover why stories matter for business and learn how to harness the potential of stories as a strategic business tool, developing the skills to create meaningful stories for your organisation and the people you engage with, from internal and external customers to suppliers and commercial partners.

 

This is not a writing course. This is a storytelling course. For business.

Storytelling is an essential strategic business tool

John Yorke argues that story structure is hardwired into human perception: all stories are essentially the same because they reflect the way in which we make sense of the world. What is this simple deep story DNA? Put simply, a hero meets his or her opposite, assimilates it and is changed. This is the root structure of storytelling.

 

Once we understand that stories are not just about entertainment, but about how the human brain works, we can look at how we do business differently. Not just the writing, but the concepts and day-to-day operations, including:

  • Identifying building blocks of change
  • Planning roadmaps to take us from A to Z
  • Resolving conflict and overcoming tension
  • Playing with problems and finding solutions
  • Linking random facts, opinions and experiences into an easily navigable form
  • Forming order out of chaos and making difficult facts digestible
  • Tapping into universal desires and needs to touch something deep within
  • Developing empathy with an audience and connecting with other people.

 

APPROACH  This intensive course is based on studying and applying story structure as set out in Into the Woods. It reveals how narrative works in all forms of creative enterprise, and how this affects the way we tell stories within organisations – from brand stories, advertising and digital content to strategy planning and internal communications.

 

WHO IS IT FOR? Individuals and organisations looking to develop and apply a practical understanding of the mechanics of good storytelling and learn how to tell stories with business impact. It could also be undertaken as part of informal or formal professional development.

 

All you need to participate in the course is a computer and a good internet connection.

 

The online nature of the course means it is ideal for people in rural areas with limited access to training. It is also suitable for people who may find travelling to and attending face-to-face training courses difficult, or those juggling work and family commitments.

 

LEVEL The course is an introduction for adult learners who have had no formal training in story development or narrative structure. No formal prior learning is required other than a good working knowledge of English.

 

OUTCOME At the end of the course, participants will have completed a piece of writing or storytelling assignment relevant to their job.

 

DURATION Runs over 6 weekly sessions of about 7 hours study per week. Within each session you can work at a time of the week that suits you – you just need to meet the final Sunday deadline (see The Course).

 

DELIVERY The course is accessed through an Into the Woods virtual classroom, hosted by the Professional Writing Academy (see The Course).

 

FEATURES
• Tried and tested peer-to-peer learning model
• Suitable for directors, management, marketing, HR, sales teams, bid writers
• Flexible outcomes, tailored to your individual needs
• Easy to apply learning to a work-related project
• Available to individuals or groups as informal or formal professional development

 

BENEFITS
• Lower in cost than face-to-face courses
• Study any time
• Delivers consistent training across an organisation
• Brings teams together to learn – no matter where they are
• Flexible professional development

 

Cost

The course costs £1,500.
Book your place now

 

Creative Skillset Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent by providing investment for individuals and businesses to grow.

This project has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding.

 

Why should businesses listen to a TV programme-maker?

Marketing is all about developing engaging content; at the core it’s about telling stories – those of your brand, your product or services, your campaigns, your people, your successes. Harvard Business Review article.

This makes understanding storytelling an essential tool for business.

 

On the ground though, few people have a practical understanding of what stories are, and how to weave them around brands, products and services.

 

To apply stories to the commercial world, you need to understand how they work at the most fundamental level. Theories are complex and long-winded, but the principles of storytelling are not.

 

Unless you understand what your organisation’s story is – and are able to tell it clearly, consistently and compellingly for your audience – core messages will not get across. The effort and spend you put into a wide range of communication media will be wasted.

 

In an era in which stories can become global instantly, your story needs to be the one your customers listen to and act upon.

 

Give your teams the skills to write the stories that mean something to them and to the people around them – internal customers, external customers, suppliers, commercial partners – and you transform the way you do business.

 

WHY GREAT STORIES KEEP PEOPLE ENGAGED WITH YOUR BUSINESS
the brain science behind good business
neurobiology and the importance of character in business stories
• some case studies

 

Creative Skillset Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent by providing investment for individuals and businesses to grow.

This project has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding.

Story for Business is a six-session online course

The course is delivered via our virtual classroom using a tightly-structured, interactive learning journey and multimedia learning materials. The learning model is structured around a combination of peer and tutor feedback and aims to develop and hone your critical faculties through constant practice and revision.

 

• The course lasts 6 weeks and comprises 40 hours of learning
• Each session runs over a week. You will need to put in approximately 7 hours work per week (some of this is watching films)
• All the teaching, interaction with participants and tutor moderation takes place in an online classroom, accessed via a website, and course materials and forums are open 24/7
• Sessions open on a Monday; assignments must be completed and uploaded by Saturday with critiquing of fellow participants’ work completed by the Sunday, before the next session opens
• Completed sessions remain open throughout the course so that you can review course materials and revise your work.
The course is taught using the following:
• Short audio files from John Yorke and Nick Parker
• Short video files from John Yorke, Nick Parker and/or other industry experts
• Online guidance notes and directed prompts and exercises, devised by John Yorke and Nick Parker
• Directed reading and viewing lists from John Yorke and Nick Parker
• 1-to-1 webinars
• Guest lectures from industry experts
• Online peer critiquing from other participants in the group
• Tutor moderation
• The support of an online community and virtual classroom
• A dedicated resources area, continually updated by the course team.
Book your place now

Course overview

Over 6 weeks, we’ll look in detail at the big themes in Into The Woods – the act structure of stories, protagonists and antagonists, inciting incidents, climaxes and resolutions. And we’ll look at the big things they can teach us to apply to business communication:

1 The Shape of All Stories
We’ll look at the building blocks that all great stories have in common – whether cinema classics like Jaws, or the founder’s tale of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

2 Finding your Heroes and Villains
We’ll examine what makes us identify with key characters – and how this applies to business stories. Is your business the protagonist of your story? Or is it your product or your customer?

3 Getting the Best out of Conflict
All great stories have at their heart a conflict to resolve, an obstacle to overcome, or a villain to vanquish. We’ll look at how to identify the conflict in business stories – and how to deal with the urge in business to pretend that everything’s positive and there are never any challenges!

4 Keeping your Audience on the Edge of their Seats
We’ll look at the techniques great storytellers use to create unbearable suspense and can’t-look-but-can’t-look-away tension. And how you can use these superpowers in your own work.

5 How to Avoid Telling Bad Stories
We’ll pick up some of the common pitfalls that business stories fall into – including the aforementioned ‘there’s no conflict here!’ problem, and the ‘we want to be a blockbuster, but we’re more like a soap opera’ dilemma….

6 Apply to Your Work
And in the final session, you will apply the techniques you’ve learned to a piece of work relevant to your professional role.

At the end of the course you will receive detailed feedback from your tutors on your final pieces of work. This feedback report will be be emailed to you within three weeks of the course ending.

The online classroom closes at the end of Session 6, but you will have the option to continue working with your peers in a specially created course alumni area online. This includes an archive of your course materials and forums that enable you to continue posting work for review from your peer group and others who have completed the course.

More about John on his website, here. 

Creative Skillset Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent by providing investment for individuals and businesses to grow.

This project has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding.

All stories function in an eerily similar way

In Into the Woods, John Yorke argues that story structure is hardwired into human perception: all stories are essentially the same because they reflect the way in which we make sense of the world. What is this simple deep story DNA? A hero meets his or her opposite, assimilates it and is changed. This is the root structure of storytelling. Read John in The Atlantic: All Stories are the Same.

 

Once we understand that stories are not just about entertainment, but about how the human brain works, we can look at how we do business differently. Not just the writing, but the concepts and day-to-day operations, including:

  • Identifying building blocks of change
  • Planning roadmaps to take us from A to Z
  • Resolving conflict and overcoming tension
  • Playing with problems and finding solutions
  • Linking random facts, opinions and experiences into an easily navigable form
  • Forming order out of chaos and making difficult facts digestible
  • Tapping into universal desires and needs to touch something deep within
  • Developing empathy with an audience and connecting with other people.

This is a marvellous analysis of screenwriting and, with any luck, should help a great many people achieve their dreams.

Julian Fellowes, writer/creator of Downton Abbey

In an industry full of so called script gurus and snake oil salesmen, at last there’s a book about story that treats writers like grown ups. This isn’t about providing us with an ABC of story or telling us how to write a script by numbers. It’s an intelligent evaluation into the very nature of storytelling and is the best book on the subject I’ve read. Quite brilliant.

Tony Jordan

This book is intelligent, well written, incisive and, most of all, exciting. It is the most important book about scriptwriting since William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade.

Robert Collins, Sunday Times review

Testing the adage that ‘in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice but in practice there is’, this is a love story to story – erudite, witty and full of practical magic. It’s by far the best book of its kind I’ve ever read. I struggle to think of the writer who wouldn’t benefit from reading it – even if they don’t notice because they’re too busy enjoying every page.

Neil Cross, creator of Luther, writer of Dr Who, Spooks and Crossbones

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Creative Skillset Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent by providing investment for individuals and businesses to grow.

This project has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding.

Who is this man?

John Yorke is a drama producer, author and teacher who has spent 30 years studying our insatiable appetite for stories. His long career in TV drama has given him the tools to identify the underlying shape common to all successful narratives – from drama to corporate reports.

 

As former Head of Channel Four Drama, Controller of BBC Drama Production and MD of Company Pictures, John has shaped stories that have attracted some of the biggest audiences for drama in UK TV history. He has overseen some of the UK’s most enduring and popular programmes, from Shameless and Life On Mars to EastEnders and Holby City, alongside award-winners like Bodies and the internationally acclaimed Wolf Hall.

 

John has worked with a vast array of talent, from Paul Greengrass and Paul Abbott to Debbie Horsfield and Jimmy McGovern, making him uniquely placed to watch, learn and analyse the work of the finest writers in British television.

 

His approach to storytelling is based on the premise that there is a unifying shape to all narrative forms that comes from within. Where previous teachers of story have concentrated on “how” stories work, John looks at “why”. Into The Woods argues that once we recognise why story structure is common to all narratives (from tales heard at our parent’s knee to Hollywood blockbusters), we become able to tell all stories – and communicate – better.

 

As founder of the hugely successful BBC Writers Academy (85 per cent of graduates are in professional work), John was well placed to develop a range of online courses for screenwriters, programme makers and business organisations, based on the approach outlined in Into the Woods.

 

Career Summary

  • As Managing Director of the UK drama independent, Company Pictures, John produced shows as varied as The White Queen, George Gently and Wolf Hall.
  • In his role as a Commissioning Editor and Executive Producer, John championed many of the defining works of British television, including Life on Mars, The Street, Shameless and Waterloo Road.
  • As both Head of Channel Four Drama and Controller of BBC Drama Production, his CV encompasses big popular works like Hustle, Spooks, Casualty and Holby City alongside award-winners such as Bodies, Omagh, Sex Traffic, Not Only But Always and The Curse of Steptoe.
  • John created the BBC Writers Academy in 2005, the only writing programme in the world guaranteeing broadcast work and which has produced a generation of successful television writers and programme makers.
  • Into The Woods has been heralded by screenwriters, authors and critics alike, from Caitlin Moran to Peter Bowker, Ken Follet to Peter James and The Times to The Guardian. Since first publication, it has been the UK’s bestselling book on narrative structure.
  • John began his television career story-lining EastEnders during its first BAFTA-winning year, going on to script edit, produce and executive produce the show – a relationship that lasted 16 years.

 

Current Roles

  • Managing Director of Angelstation TV – currently making Red Rock for TV3 and Cover Up for ITV.
  • Visiting Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
  • Drama consultant to King Bert Productions, the company run by David Walliams, Miranda Hart and Jo Sargent.
  • Course director of Storytelling for Screen and Telling Stories for Business online courses at the Professional Writing Academy.
  • Tutor at Drama Centre London, University of the Arts London.
  • Regular speaker at London Screenwriting Festival and guest lecturer at MA writing programmes, including at De Montfort University, Leicester and Falmouth University.

John Yorke Story

John Yorke at Penguin Books

 

Reviews for Into the Woods

• Review of the book – ‘taking a scalpel to narrative structure’ – Victoria Segal, The Guardian, 4 April 2014

Review of the book – ‘a convincing hypothesis’ – Robert Epstein, The Independent, 6 April 2013

• Review of the book – ‘Focusing on the structure’ –  Kirkus Reviews, April 2014

Review of the book – ‘terrifyingly clever… Packed with intelligent argument’ – Nick Curtis, London Evening Standard, 4 April 2013

 

Buy a copy of  Into the Woods

 

Creative Skillset Creative Skillset empowers the Creative Industries to develop skills and talent by providing investment for individuals and businesses to grow.

This project has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding.


If you would like to register your interest in joining a John Yorke Into the Woods course (Storytelling for Screen or Story for Business), if you are an organisation looking to run a dedicated version of the course for your team, or would simply like more information, please email us: info@profwritingaademy.com.