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Review of “Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft” by Daniel José Older on Skillshare

Join me as I delve into Daniel José Older's Skillshare course to explore the core elements of storytelling, including character development, creating engaging conflicts, and setting the scene to bring your stories to life. Did this course help me understand the fundamentals of storytelling?

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Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft on Skillshare: Our Verdict (2023)


4.5 / 5

Discover the heart of storytelling in "Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft" by Daniel José Older on Skillshare. This course immerses you in the core elements of storytelling – character, conflict, context, and craft – with the help of clear and simple explanations and numerous examples. Regardless of your experience as a creative writer, this engaging learning experience offers a practical understanding of the art of captivating storytelling.


  • Dynamic and engaging teaching style
  • Simplifies complex concepts, making them easy to understand
  • Useful examples from the instructor’s work
  • Practical writing tips


  • Lacking in practical exercises


I’ve always been fascinated by the art of storytelling – to be able to create entire worlds and people out of thin air has always felt like some kind of powerful magic to me. So when I came across “Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft” by Daniel José Older on Skillshare, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to dive deeper into the fundamentals of storytelling. But is this course a viable introduction to storytelling, and is it worth investing your time in it? We’ll explore what the course covers and the benefits it has to offer for creative writers.

Table of Contents

Course overview

Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft” is a 9-lesson course by Daniel José Older, available on Skillshare. In this course, lasting just 42 minutes in total, Daniel Older explores the “4 C’s” of storytelling: character, conflict, context, and craft. The course’s purpose is to provide writers, both aspiring and established, with a starting point for writing their own fictional stories while inspiring them to learn more about the art of storytelling.

Who is Daniel José Older?

Best-selling author Daniel José Older
Best-selling author Daniel José Older

Daniel José Older is the New York Times bestselling author of several works, including the historical fantasy series “Dactyl Hill Squad,” the “Bone Street Rumba” urban fantasy series, and “Star Wars: Last Shot.” He’s also the author of the Young Adult series “Shadowshaper Cypher,” which has received recognition from various literary awards.

Who is this course's target audience?

This course is designed for creative writers who want to improve their storytelling skills. This course is very dynamic and easy to understand, which helps reach learners of all levels of expertise, from beginners to experts. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to understand what makes a story truly captivating and engaging.

What does the course cover?

To give you a better idea of what the course covers, here is a quick summary of the nine lessons.

  1. Introduction: In this lesson, you will learn about the course’s focus on storytelling fundamentals: craft, conflict, character, and context. Daniel talks about the important part real-life experiences play in storytelling.
  2. Character: In this lesson, Daniel teaches you the importance of creating characters with clear desires and motivations. You’ll explore how small details can impact a character’s development, helping you to create intriguing and memorable characters.
  3. Character in “Salsa Nocturna”: In this lesson, you’ll explore character depth by examining Gordo, a character in Daniel’s short story “Salsa Nocturna.” Daniel shows how to make readers care about characters by revealing what matters to them.
  4. Conflict: In this lesson, you’ll explore conflict’s role in storytelling. Daniel explains how internal and external conflict types, as well as power dynamics, help create complex conflicts for character and theme development.
  5. Conflict in “Salsa Nocturna”: In this lesson, you’ll study the conflict in “Salsa Nocturna” and its consequences, understanding how storytelling tension works.
  6. Context: In this lesson, you’ll learn about context’s importance, including place, time, and power. Daniel explains how world-building, experiential details, and context impact characters and conflicts.
  7. Context in “Salsa Nocturna”: In this lesson, you’ll see how Daniel uses context in “Salsa Nocturna”, through character perspective and world-building.
  8. Craft: In this lesson, Daniel offers a lot of useful tips on avoiding common writing mistakes.
  9. Closing: In this final lesson, Daniel encourages enjoying the writing process and seeking feedback to constantly improve your skills.

What I liked about the course

Find your characters intriguing so your readers do the same
You have to find your characters intriguing so your readers do the same

Instructor’s approach: I really liked Daniel José Older’s approach to teaching. He made complex concepts easy to understand in a fun and interactive way.

Daniel talking about one of his characters
Daniel talking about one of his characters

Case study teaching method: I enjoyed Daniel José Older’s use of one of his short stories, “Salsa Nocturna,” as a case study to illustrate key concepts, which made it easy to understand how the concepts learned apply to writing

Common mistakes writers make
Common mistakes writers make

Useful tips: Daniel shares a lot of practical writing tips that can be immediately applied to one’s own work, from the importance of reading your story out loud to avoiding common writing mistakes.

Don’t be a perfectionist, just write
Don’t be a perfectionist, just write!

Not striving for perfection. I like how Daniel encourages you to just start writing because you will never have a perfect story; you just have to focus on telling it as best as you can.

Really enjoy the process
Really enjoy the process

Having fun. Most of us writers tend to approach writing like it is a difficult task, but as the instructor says, you have to have fun and enjoy the process. After all, you are sharing stories because you are passionate about what you do.

What I didn't like about the course

  1. Lack of practical exercises: The course covers theory effectively, but I feel like it could benefit from more exercises to provide learners with a starting point to apply what they’ve learned.

How much does the course cost?

Courses on Skillshare can not be bought individually – they can only be accessed by signing up for a Skillshare membership. The good news? Skillshare offers e-student.org learners a full month free trial if you use our link (if not using our link, there is normally only a 7-day free trial). As virtually all Skillshare courses will take you less than a month to complete, you can in effect take this or any other Skillshare course for free – or any number of courses that you can finish in a month.

Once your free trial is over, the cost of Skillshare is $165 per year, which averages out to $13.75 per month. This gives you full access to all 34,000+ Skillshare courses. But if you're not happy to continue, you can easily cancel any time before your free trial ends – just go to your payment settings in your account.

If you have no need for a free trial, you can instead get %30 discount on your first year by using this special link instead. With this link, your first year will be just $115.50, averaging out to $9.63 per month. Note that this offer is only valid for new accounts, so it can't be combined with the 30-day free trial.

Conclusion – Is the course worth it?

Having personally experienced the course, I can confidently affirm that “Storytelling 101: Character, Conflict, Context & Craft” by Daniel José Older on Skillshare is the perfect course for you if you are passionate about storytelling. It teaches you the essential skills for creating engaging narratives and provides a fun and interactive learning experience. While it could benefit from more practical exercises, its contents can help you kick-start your creative writing journey.

Remember, the path of learning never ends, and applying the knowledge gained from this course can lead to significant improvements in your storytelling abilities. So, if you’re excited to learn the basics of storytelling or looking to improve your storytelling skills, this course is well worth your time.

If you are ready to get into the world of storytelling, enroll in the course and start writing your own captivating stories!