Taking a Page from Fiction: Applying Novel-Writing Tricks to Learning Design

Conference Archive

Learning Solutions Conference & Expo 2018 - March 28, 2018

Joseph Fournier

Learning Infrastructure Designer

Fiction writers know that readers expect certain patterns of dramatic tension and resolution, and if those are absent, a work loses its ability to engage readers. These tried-and-true techniques are gaining popularity as more writers bypass traditional publishing channels. Along the way, their applicability to learning design is becoming apparent.

This session explores the rules and patterns that fiction writers use, and how learning designers can use them to improve learner experience and enhance engagement. You’ll go beyond familiar concepts such as metaphor and analogy and dive into plot, protagonist, point of view, character arc, setting, and style. You’ll look at how each of these concepts (and more) can help you create compelling learning that keeps your audience on the edge of their seats.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How to map a learning story from beginning to end
  • How to identify the protagonist, villain, and supporting characters for your learning
  • How to plot a positive-change character arc and use it to drive engagement
  • About tools writers use to stay organized and focused that you can add to your own workflow


Novice to intermediate designers and managers.

Technology discussed in this session:

Scrivener and mind-mapping technologies.


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