What I Learned From Michael Hauge – PART 1

If you’ve read my blog on February 27, you know I believe in a writer’s continued education. Last weekend, The Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group of the ABE area in Pennsylvania hosted the renowned Michael Hauge. Mr. Hauge is known for his Story Mastery concept of screen-writing. Over the years, while attending RWA conferences, I tried to get into his sessions, but they were always filled to capacity and now I know why. The man breaks down story telling in a way that makes complete sense. So when this opportunity came up, I jumped to learn from him. I jumped on the opportunity to learn from him.

Because of the volume of notes I took during the class, I’m going to break this blog topic up into two sessions. Today, I’ll convey Mr. Hauge’s opening comments and then I’ll concentrate on his information for a character’s inner journey. On April 3, next Monday, I’ll share what I learned about his Six-Stage Plot Structure. Again, I want credit Mr. Hauge and state again these are my notes.

Mr. Hauge started the day with this statement: A writer’s job is to create emotion in the reader. Character, desire and conflict are your story’s core.

How great is that statement? In two lines, he conveyed the essence of story-telling.

Hauge made us work, filling in templates based on our stories. The three words that he repeated throughout the day and especially as he listened to participates who read from their templates was “KEEP IT SIMPLE”. Don’t over think or make it more complicated than it needs to be was his message. Describe the elements in as few words as possible.

He then went on to describe the outer journey as the story of accomplishment and he listed five outer motivations which create conflict.

  1. To win something. In romance, it’s to win the love of another character.

     2. To stop something bad from happening.

     3. To escape; to get out of a bad situation.

     4. To deliver something of value from point A to point B.

     5. To retrieve a value object.


The inner journey he said is the transformation of character from living in fear to living courageously.

Structure he described as where the story takes place. He also stated to move the scenes to where they have the most impact. When he said this, I recalled how my editor for His Witness To Evil had me move a scene to later in the book because of this reason. Often we’re too close to our own work that we don’t see how we can improve it and that is why editors are important.


The Hero’s Inner Journey: The transformation. The Character’s Arc.

Mr. Hauge stated you need to answer these questions for each of your characters.

What does the character want? A longing is something he will express (outer desire). A need is something he will not (internal hidden desire).

What is their wound? A wound is the unhealed source from the past. No one gets out of adolescence unscarred. The character feels that they’ve moved on, but it still affects their actions.

What is their belief? We form a belief of why an event happened. Beliefs grow out of the wound. They’re always logical but never true!

What is their fear? This should be a move or change that goes against character’s belief.


He then gave us two terms; Identity and Essence.

“A character’s identity is a false-self she presents to the world to protect her fear that grew from the belief that grew out of the wound long ago.” It’s her emotional armor. It is who they believe themselves to be and all they can be. They feel safe in their identity.

While in the identity they can have what they want but to get what they need their identity must die and they must move into their essence.

The essence is the character’s true self. It’s who they really are. It’s who they can be, if they find the courage.

The Character’s Arc is the journey from the false-self to the true self without losing their admirable traits. In other words, the character will let go of the past wounds, fearlessly grow in their strengths and become someone they never imagine they could be.

Your character can NEVER achieve outer goal while in his identity. To achieve the goal he must be in his essence. Either they can feel safe and be unfilled, or you can be scarred and gain what you need.

Okay, I think I’ve given you enough to think about today. Work on your characters and next week I’ll share my notes on the Six Stage Plot Structure and how your character’s arc fits in.



His Witness To Evil

Autumn Jordon is the award-winning author of romantic suspense-mystery-thrillers such as her Golden Heart Finalist and Golden Leaf winner His Witness To Evil. After her family business was comprised by The Russian Mafia and the FBI investigated, she grabbed her note pad and pen and went on to interview the agents. Join her newsletter at and be privy to upcoming releases, sales, and events. Also, you’ll receive free reads and be entered into her monthly contest for great prizes

25 responses to “What I Learned From Michael Hauge – PART 1”

  1. Wow. What a lot to think about. Thank you so much for sharing this information. I’d heard of his classes before, but had never taken one – wish I had now! But I appreciate you sharing what you learned.

    • Vicky, You’re welcome.

      You can’t imagine how much there was to take in. Wait until next week’s blog. There is a lot more.

      If you do get a chance to see him, grab the opportunity. You will not be sorry.

  2. Rita Henuber says:

    I looked at my notes for his class and see they are similar to yours.
    One thing I always remember him saying is, “All fiction is built on the emotional power of DESIRE and CONFLICT.”
    There is soooo much to learning this craft of writing. An education of the mind, heart, and soul of men.

    • “An education of the mind, heart, and soul of men.” ~ What an eloquent description of the craft, Rita. I love that!

      There were very seasoned writers in attendance and many stated the Hauge’s presentation connected with them.

  3. I’ve never attended a Michael Hague workshop, but this makes me even more interested in finding one. I’ve always heard good things, and this is a really fascinating way to break down character – like GMC on steroids. 🙂 Thanks, Autumn!

  4. Great post, Autumn. I’ve taken two workshops given by Michael Hague and both were excellent. Identity to Essence was one of them.

    • Lucky girl!

      Hope and I were just discussing in the chatroom the use of Archetype cards in correlation with the Identity and Essence of a character to nail the character’s arc. I can’t wait to use this in plotting out my next book.

  5. Thanks for a great post, Autumn! Looks like I’m going to have to find a Michael Hauge workshop. 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Ava.

      Like I said to Vivi above. I believe he has a Master Class scheduled later this year in CO. Maybe you could make it. Check out his website.

  6. Thank you for sharing your takeaways, Autumn. I have a post-it framed above my desk that says “Emotion and Motion” to remind me that every scene should create emotion and contain conflict that moves the story forward. I’ll definitely be rereading this post, and am looking forward to next week’s!

  7. Tracy Brody says:

    I ditto Autumn (who I got to meet there. Lucky me!) in saying to go if you can. His workshop was awesome, understandable, informative and helpful. I never nodded off once in >6 hours of the presentation. The 1-2 hours at RWA isn’t enough time and sadly, RWA has not asked him to come this year. Told him they’re trying to add new speaker – despite the fact many of us have tried to get in his packed workshops there to no avail.

    Thanks for sharing your notes, Autumn. I’ll see if I missed anything in mine.

    • I’m so glad we got to meet too, Tracy. I wish we’d found each other earlier in the day however. I would’ve loved chatting about romance suspense and our works.

      That is a shame Michael wasn’t asked to RWA again this year. Every time he was there and I was in attendance, I was never able to get into the room. So very glad, I finally got to hear him, and a MASTER CLASS too! You’re right. An hour or two would not have been enough.

      • Tracy Brody says:

        I wish we’d met earlier in the day too, Autumn. Guess we need to look for each other in Orlando. TGN retreat or in the elevators. 😉 Touched that you recognized my name.

  8. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Thank you for all the information, Autumn. I’ve printed it out for easier referencing. It’s right here on my desk in front of me as well as all the “words of wisdom” from this morning:)

  9. Big Michael Hauge fan here! I was able to sit in on one of his two-hour RWA workshops seven or eight years ago, and those two hours fundamentally changed how I write…helping me to create richer and more compelling characters, which leads to richer and more compelling story. 🙂 In other words, character, not plot, is story. So brilliant!!! Loved all of the goodies in this post, Autumn, and am looking forward to next Monday’s post!

  10. Great stuff, Autumn. Really appreciate you sharing your notes. So helpful!


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