Drawing from the wide world of story in all its forms, Storm Writing School examines what aspects of story affect an audience emotionally and keep them engaged. Stories have the power to transform people, to expose them to new modes of thinking, to make them more empathetic, to give them hope and ease their suffering. As Robert McKee says, “Our appetite for story is a reflection of the profound human need to grasp the patterns of living, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.” If you want to be the kind of storyteller who has such effect and impact on readers, you need to understand the inner workings of story on both the holistic level and at the line/page/scene level of your story. That’s what we’re here to investigate.
You can read more about my core philosophies here.
What Does SWS Offer?
Storm Writing School offers MFA-level craft tips for writers of stories. The blog serves as a repository of craft articles; the school offers courses–both paid and free–to help writers understand and put to practice techniques for engaging readers and moving them emotionally.
I offer editing services for short stories, novels, and creative nonfiction.
I run online critique groups–two each “semester” (Fall = Sept. – Jan.; Spring = Feb. – May)
I offer online classes.
I offer “personal training.”
I have a newsletter you should sign up for.
Who Am I?
My name is TD Storm. I live in Madison, Wisconsin with my wife and two children (both of whom are currently running around the house shouting, “Dingo encounter!”).
I’ve taught writing and literature since 1999, both at the high school and post-secondary levels. I currently teach at the University of Wisconsin. My teaching style works for most people who give me a chance–though I admit that I thrive on face-to-face interaction, where I have better eye contact and smile more. As I’ve moved to more online instruction in recent years, however, I’ve found some ways to make it work well (video conferencing, for instance).
I write short stories and essays, with recent work at Literary Hub and Copper Nickel. I’ve been a finalist in several short story contests, and I won the Reynolds Price Short Fiction Award.
Check out the introductory video on the main school page to see me in action.
How Can I Help You?
I take writing and storytelling seriously. They are as important to human societies as any occupation. You have stories to tell, and they deserve to be told well. As a result, I believe in you and your writing, but I’ll also challenge you to do better. I’m a compassionate teacher with high expectations. I don’t believe in sugar-coating. But I also know that writing is a very personal matter and I’m not here to beat you up or demoralize you.
There are no shortcuts to writing, however. It’s like losing weight or getting in shape. You have to do the work. I can be your physical trainer, so to speak, but you have to do the work. I’m not going to promise you quick solutions or 5 steps to a bestseller. But I can promise you sound, hard-hitting craft advice and full engagement with your writing.
I believe we learn art best by imitation and by thoughtful consumption of other art. As such, I teach via exemplars. I break down what successful writers do and extract specific lessons you can apply to your work. For a taste of my instructional analysis, try out this free course on “The Gold Standard Scene.”
If you want to get to know if I’d be a good fit, contact me. If you’re considering an editor for a novel, that’s a big undertaking; I’m happy to Skype or FaceTime with you so you can see what I’m like. Take a class of mine online; if it’s not a good fit (it’s either too advanced or too basic), then withdraw, get your money back, and try a different class if you think you like my approach. But if we’re not right for each other, by all means, go find someone else.
What Do People Say About Me?
In a physical school, I’d have a reputation. Students would interact with each other and say what they like about me or don’t like. I wouldn’t need to do any marketing or ask students for a quote about how great I am. I could just focus on the teaching. But this is not that, so:
“Having spent the last 7 years of my life inside college writing courses and continued studies programs, I can confidently say Tim Storm is one of the most memorable and informative teachers I have come across. He teaches the art of storytelling from a unique perspective that is intuitive and engaging. If you ever have the chance to take a class taught by Tim Storm, take it.” -Ben Reese, currently enrolled in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop
“I recently told a writer friend that finally after nine years of searching, I had found THE writing instructor. Tim Storm gave feedback that proved he had really read my writing. He highlighted problem areas and gave clear suggestions as to correct them. All of his comments related back to what he was teaching. I have courage again because one evening, despite facing hours of preparation and editing, he responded to my questions with a long personal email. Tim is the consummate teacher. One wants so badly to learn to do one’s very best, to live up to the high standard he espouses in his own life and in his own writing.” -Jan Nelson
“Tim Storm is a master teacher who uses brilliant tactics to help his students internalize concepts. Tim’s goal is to teach writers to be skilled creators, equipping them with what they need to know in order to conjure meaningful, satisfying stories. In his courses, Tim’s every sentence resonates with careful craftsmanship, tuned for graspability, down to each individual word.” – Tricia Wagner
“Tim Storm is an exceptional writing instructor. He took complex concepts and distilled them down to simple, easy to understand steps and ideas that motivated the class and improved my writing immensely.” -Deborah King, author of Glory Bishop
“Nothing gets past Tim Storm. Working with editors over the years, sometimes you want to test your crafting abilities and let a crazy sentence fly—abstraction, too much telling, piling on unnecessary details—and you can, for the most part, get away with it. Not with Tim. This guy’s got a heck of a head on him. He sniffs out everything. Astute, rigorous, and generous; and it’s all in service of improving the piece and strengthening your voice.” -Josh Cook, book critic for Minneapolis-Star Tribune
“As to the quality of the material Tim presented and the examples he provided, what can I say? Absolutely top-notch. Tim did it with a sense of humor and humility (that’s not quite the right word. I mean he has the right to claim expertise but didn’t present it with any hint of superiority. Quality needs no promotion). The experience was so rewarding, so entertaining, so intellectually honest and stimulating, I hated to see the arrival of artificial boundaries imposed by the syllabus and clock at week’s end.” -Chuck Ladd
“I am always amazed that Tim can take gut-level issues and raise them to literate, reproducible consciousness. Tim always takes the time to listen, learn someone’s voice and their intentions, and help them say what they want to say in the most effective way. He respects the writer’s voice and goals so no one ever sees his footprint in the work. It’s evident that he truly loves to help people make their work better.” -Teria Robens, author of What the Mirror Sees, winner the 2015-2016 African American Arts Alliance of Chicago’s Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature-Fiction