The Nuts & Bolts of Storytelling


A video workshop for Writers, Filmmakers, Producers, Editors, Digital Storytellers, Families and Corporations

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The Nuts and Bolts of Storytelling video course approach has helped storytellers and filmmakers break through creative blocks and win Academy Awards, sell their projects to HBO and reach millions of people with their stories.

You’ll learn the secrets about how stories function by connecting emotionally and viscerally with your audience — using extensive film clips from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Join now and receive both the Nuts and Bolts Course Companion PDF and the Storytellers Playbook, powerful tools for you to build stories that come from your heart and reach the hearts of your expanding audience.

Plus: you can also join our members-only Storytellers Academy Community on Facebook, and enjoy ongoing discussions about the art and craft of storytellers, special podcasts, and live Q&A sessions with me.


  • How to sustain audience engagement
  • The 12 ways that all great stories function
  • How universal themes connect with your audience
  • How to find the balance between your creative passion and analytical tools.
  • How relationship arcs map the emotional throughline
  • How telling solution-oriented stories reaches a wider audience.


  • The Storytellers Playbook that captures the creative blueprint of your story
  • The Plot Energy Curve Model that guides you to engage your audience from the beginning to the end of your stories
  • How to respond to feedback and notes while rewriting
  • The Nuts and Bolts companion PDF for easy referencing specific issues


1. What you need to know to tell a great story
2. Perfectionism blocks creative flow
3. The Story Ecosystem: storyteller-story-audience
4. Story Functions: The 4 Major Points for Telling Stories
5. How meaning connects you to your audience
6. Meaning comes through contrast and opposition
7. Dilemma is the creative core of great stories
8. The Storytellers Playbook
9. Stories are a series of movements connected by cause and effect
10. Connecting more deeply to your audience through emotions
11. Emotions are carried through relationship arcs, the lifeblood of drama
12. The Story Molecule: how to stay on track
13. The Three Story Strands of conflict
14. Story Models are not maps to follow, but editing tools
15. The Plot Energy Curve: the amount of dramatic intensity through time
16. The Audience’s Journey
17. The six story movements that are the syntax of storytelling
18. Movement #1: Establishing (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial example).
19. Movement #2: Catalyst (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial example).
20. Movement #3: Threshold Crisis (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial example).
21. Movement #4: Core Crisis (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial example).
22. Movement #5: Catastrophe (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial example).
23. Movement #6: Climax and Resolution (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial example).
24. The Story Molecule is in every beat of your story
25. Transformation and Change happens through relationships crises
26. Antagonists don’t want change to happen
27. Change begins with an inner shift of self-perception
28. The Catalyst raises the primary Story Molecule questions
29. The Threshold Crisis is the first major show of force by the antagonist
30. Each movement raises new questions on the through-line of your story.
31. Solve middle act problems: Follow relationship arcs through the entire story
32. The Core Crisis is a crisis in the primary relationship that reveals the inner wound
33. The Catastrophe is the worst thing that can happen to your characters.
34. The Climax dramatically answers the three questions in the Story Molecule.
35. Course Summary

Tom Schlesinger teaches storytelling seminars at Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, the Banff Centre, the Red Bull Media House, the American Film Institute, Deluxe Studios, the Writers Guild of America, the Directors Guild of America, and film schools internationally. Tom was the story mentor on the female-driven Academy Award-winning Nowhere in Africa and Academy Award nominee, Beyond Silence; he was also the writer/consultant on the female-driven HBO documentary Prom Night in Mississippi featuring Morgan Freeman.