The Beginner’s Guide To Reverse-Engineering A Successful Story


A powerful way to improve your storytelling is to study (and deconstruct) the successful books that have gone before.

How To Reverse-Engineer Story

What you want to do first is take apart the emotional components. A successful book will generally have a limited palette of emotional tones, and the energy choices will be harmonic. (You know, I think many manuscripts are rejected by agents and publishing houses precisely because no attention has been paid to the energetic composition or emotional colors of the piece.)

What The Hell, Victor Poole? Colors?

Yes, yes, I know, I sound like a raving lunatic, but what I say, alas, is possibly true. For an example, let us look first at a book, and then at a recent film.

You’re Crazy, Victor

Thanks, dear friend. Let us press on in an investigatory spirit, and learn more about my off-the-wall ideas. For our book example, we shall examine The Little Prince, and then we will take a look at the new Tom Cruise film, The Mummy. Our overview, alas, shall be incredibly brief, because I have to get back to work in five minutes.

The Little Prince

This book is an energetic wonder; it is written with golden energy, and has glinting fragments of diamond-like white and blue throughout. Harry Potter has some gold filigree through the center, but The Little Prince may as well have been dipped in a pool of molten gold. It is incredibly rare to find any story with so much precious light in it.

Gold Vs. Yellow

I may as well take a moment here to explain the difference between yellow emotional tone and gold. Yellow, bright, unmitigated mustard-color, is jovial and unapologetic and exceptionally irreverent. It’s got the energy of a squeaking helium balloon, and irritates more natural colors. Gold, on the other hand, is the manifestation of idealized human destiny, and is an emotional tone that is extremely rare, both in people’s energy fields and in stories.

You Said You Couldn’t See Auras, Victor Poole!

I don’t see colors. I have never seen colors. However, I can see energy movement, and my brain processes the different qualities of energy as color. So, when I see someone, I see just them, with no accompanying clouds of light, but then when I describe what their energy field was like, my mind interprets the qualities of movement in terms of color.

The Mummy

The overall effect of the new Tom Cruise film, energetically, is a dark red tinged with burned (false) gold leaf, almost orange, and eaten away by navy blue that is meant to be seen as black.

Now That We Have A General Impression, How Do We Deconstruct Further?

Let’s begin with The Mummy. Navy blue is used when a story is attempting to portray evil, but has been written by people who are cloaking themselves in denial, usually because their bosses actually are evil. Most Hollywood films that approach evil do so with either a rusted-blood red-brown (which does not remotely approach black), or with an intellectually-lazy navy blue (which is much closer, but still a lie).

Interestingly, the color black does not represent evil at all; black is the color of death, which is friendly and warm. But that is a topic for another day, and I am not going to describe to you the colors of evil (which are not black).

To dig deeper into the way The Mummy functions as a story, we must look at the harmony of the emotional tones chosen to convey meaning. The colors at the beginning of the film are muted, almost washed out, like watercolor with too much water thrown in. As the film progresses, the emotions approach deeper and truer tones, until, in the final few minutes, the richness of an untempered acrylic, or a thinned-out oil appears.

Victor, Your Words Make No Sense

Too bad for you. Let us look at an example of imitating this story construction; light, watered-down emotions building to a truer, richer pigment.

Faint Color:

Horace lifted his shovel to his shoulder, and trudged through the dying grass towards his shack. The sun made a colorless burning over the sky, and Horace felt, as he usually did, a deadening silence through his whole soul. He was so bored.

Strong Color:

He drew his rifle, and fixed his eyes on the thundering monster, which had three bronze horns, and a pair of silver wings raised above its back. The beast roared as it leapt forward; Horace’s bones shook within his frame. He fired; the shot cut through the noise with a deafening clap.

Now, The Little Prince

You will probably not be able to follow any description I make about this story’s construction, or you will say I’m crazy, so I will describe it in shorthand.

The Little Prince is written as a gradual unravelling of the core energy entwined around every biological human’s lower spine. This is the segment that can be hooked into higher meaning (God, if you will), and also the area most often targeted by professional soul-eaters.

Wow, You’re Crazy!

I told you so. Let us examine a method of writing that imitates this style. Remember, unless you are in a place of deep soul-clarity, you will be unable to write like this. Or, if you have a very healthy subconscious, and are really good at compartmentalizing. Then you’d be all right, if you are in decent shape, energetically speaking.

Normal Writing:

In the center of the world was a cave, where a secret diamond slept. At the heart of the diamond was a tiny egg, which had been miraculously preserved, and which slept now, destined never to wake at all. Until the magical fairies came down, and discovered the diamond! And cracked it open! And used their time-control powers to awaken the tiny egg!

Unravelled-Core Writing:

Sarah was a fat girl, with very long, dirty blond hair. It was not dirty because of the color, but because she washed it with too much conditioner, and the oils soaked into her scalp, and gave an unhealthy sheen to the locks that drifted, in strangled tangles, to her hips. She was in love with her best friend, and wore glasses that often fell down to the tip of her nose.

You’re reading Victor Poole. My books are here. I really thought yesterday was Wednesday, but it was Tuesday. Today, however, is Wednesday.