The Psychology of Compelling Storytelling


Learn to apply concepts that make stories powerful and memorable in this course exploring what readers can’t resist.

Starting at $695.00
As few as 10 weeks

What you can learn.

  • Identify what makes storytelling so powerful for readers
  • Understand what processes guide attention and decision making
  • Apply concepts from psychology and communication studies to your writing
  • Learn to craft persuasive, meaningful story elements

About this course:

Novice storytellers tend to associate the quality of a story with the quality of its prose. While a clear and concise style will facilitate understanding, the commercial success of “poorly written” books demonstrates that good storytelling, the kind of storytelling that fascinates and persuades, calls for a different skill: the ability to create urgency. This is not a writing course. This course explains how it is that stories engage and persuade and provides a theoretical background of the mental processes that guide attention and decision making as well as of the limits of cognition so that students can apply that knowledge to the crafting of more engaging and more persuasive stories. For that purpose, this course takes a multidisciplinary approach to storytelling, borrowing concepts from media psychology, communication studies, social psychology, and even seemingly unrelated disciplines such as cognitive neuroscience and ethology, the study of animal behavior.

Summer 2021 Schedule

Available Format(s):

Course content is delivered through an online learning platform where you can engage with your instructor and classmates. There are no required live meetings, but assignments are due regularly.

Wait List
This section has no set meeting times.
Instructor: Carlos Allende
See Details

Enrollment limited to 15 students. Internet access required. 

This course is conducted through Canvas, a secure website that allows students to log in to access lectures, discussions, and other course materials on demand. There are no required class meetings. Each course is structured with weekly assignments and deadlines. Lectures and coursework are accessible throughout the week. Workshops are conducted in writing via discussion boards with your instructor and classmates.

Refund Deadline
No refunds after July 14, 2021
Course Requirements
Internet access required to retrieve course materials.
Book: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Contact Us

Speak to a program representative. Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm.

This course applies towards the following certificates & specializations…

Keep up to date on the latest news and offerings in Creative Writing

vector icon of building

Corporate Education

Learn how we can help your organization meet its professional development goals and corporate training needs.

Learn More

vector icon of building

Donate to UCLA Extension

Support our many efforts to reach communities in need.

Innovation Programs

Student Scholarships

Coding Boot Camp

Lifelong Learning