Engineers don’t want a fuzzy mash of advices and artful comments on how other writers write and get inspired. Well, I don’t, and I think others, engineers or not, might not as well. We’re not writers, we get nothing useful from “Raise the stakes”, or “Give the reader something to root for”. We want rules. There are no rules, but there are principles. Don’ts. Patterns. We’re not writers… Except that we are. Where can we begin, then?
If you haven’t had the chance yet to read Larry Brooks, I suggest him as a starting point. He has a blog, Storyfix, in which he teaches which are the principles that drive modern storytelling and how to use them. He has two books, Story Engineering and Story Phisics, of which I have read the second one, which are highly advisable.
Story Engineering talks about the six core competencies defined by Brooks, which you can find explained in his blog, which are the conceptual tools to be used when writing. Those are Concept, Character, Theme, Structure, Scene Execution and Writing Voice. In this blog, I’m going to use references to Brook’s vocabulary, so I recommend reading his blog’s posts about the core competencies (and especially those related to story structure) so that we can have a common vocabulary. You can find a nice diagram depicting Brooks’ story structure here.
Story Phisics talks about the [coincidentally] six forces that drive storytelling and allow analizing a story’s success likelihood. It tells you what they are and how to optimize them. Also, it tells you how to write and plan in a mission-driven way (each scene has a goal, each part has a goal too), a lesson I find very valuable.
I think this is a good starting point. I learned a lot.