Saturday, June 5, 2010

"The S Theory of Storytelling"

By Pat Browning

Michael Larsen’s blog at
covers topics from storytelling to publishing and everything in between. This week, with his permission, I’m reprinting his “The S Theory of Storytelling,” a short, sweet summary of what it takes to write a compelling story.

The husband and wife team of Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada left New York for San Francisco and opened their own literary agency in 1972. They founded the prestigious San Francisco Writers Conference almost eight years ago.

The next conference is scheduled for February 18- 20, 2011. It will feature nearly 100 agents, authors, editors and book industry professionals. Attendees will have access to more than 50 “how to" sessions, panels, and workshops taught by authors. Speed Dating for Agents and Ask a Pro offer one-on-one opportunities to pitch your work directly to publishing professionals.
The web site at
is kept updated.

The agency web site is full of helpful information for writers, and it’s great for browsing. Check it out at

This entry on Michael Larsen’s blog was posted on Friday, March 19th, 2010
“The S Theory of Storytelling” by Michael Larsen
Forcing Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction Readers to Turn the Page

“The first page sells the book.” –Mickey Spillane

Agents, editors and book buyers only read far enough to make a decision. If they don’t like what they read on page one, they won’t turn the page. Book buyers may not read the second sentence of a book in a bookstore. This leads to “The S Theory of Storytelling” for fiction and narrative nonfiction that writers want to read like novels:

Something Said
or Something Else

on page one must be compelling enough to make agents, editors, and book buyers turn the page.

Your book will compete with the growing number of ways consumers can use their free time and discretionary income. So every word you write is an audition to get your readers to read the next word. Every line you write must convince your readers to read the next line.

Assume you have only one sentence to convince browsers to keep reading. Every page you write must arouse enough interest to keep readers turning the pages. And you face that challenge on every page you write except the last one.

“The last page sells the next book.” –Mickey Spillane


Jean Henry Mead said...

Excellent post, Pat. I'd love to attend the next San Francisco Writers Conference to speed date an agent.

L.J. Sellers said...

Nice post. It made me go back and rework the opening of the novel I'm writing.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Good information, Pat. Thanks.

Beth Terrell said...

I'd love to go to that San Francisco conference too. This is valuable info. Thanks, Pat.

jennymilch said...

Michael Larsen's book on literary agents is a gem as well. Thanks for posting this, Pat...