Open Loops

The 2 levels of open loops (and how to use them in your story)

Writers, founders, fellow muggles. Welcome to World Builders, the newsletter to help you become a more effective, creative storyteller.

Here are 1 tactic, 3 ideas, and 1 resource to do just that. Let’s get to it.

Hook of the day: “I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.”

You guys are crushing these, so this one’s a bit tougher. Reply with your best guess of what novel it comes from. I’ll send the 23rd correct reply a copy of On Writing.

Hint: Book 1 of a trilogy.


Last weekend was Father’s Day. Look at this gem of an ad from McDonald’s:

McDonald's Father's Day Add

I mean. That’s one of the best dad jokes I’ve seen in a long time.

And I found it through The Sleuths. A free, 1x weekly newsletter on:

  • Classic and modern ads

  • The psychology of why they work

  • And… nothing else. No spam, no case studies. Just brilliant ads.

The Sleuths operate on one theory — the best ads have already been created. What we need to do as marketers is steal from them.


One of my favorite sayings:

The first line decides if you read this book. The last line decides if you read the next.

But that begs the question — How do you convince someone to stick around for your entire story? To make sure they get to that all-important last line?

The answer is Open Loops.

And open loops come in two varieties:

  • Micro

  • Macro

To craft a compelling story, you need both.

Animated Divider



Call and Response:

“We might imagine structure as a form of call-and-response. A question arises organically from the story and then the story, very considerately, answers it. If we want to make good structure, we just have to be aware of what question we are causing the reader to ask, then answer that question.”

— George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain

This quote prompted the guide on open loops.

Also, I highlighted this book so much I’m scared to let friends read my copy. Such a good read.


The Untold Story:

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

When I look back at times when I haven’t felt like myself, I notice two things missing from my life: reading and writing.


The Boy, The Sheep, and Psychology:

“A teacher asks a class a question:

There are 10 sheep in a pen. One jumps out, how many are left?

Everyone but one boy says 9 are left. That one boy says none are left.

The teacher says “you don’t understand arithmetic.”

The boy says: "You don’t understand sheep.”

— Charlie Munger


Last March, Brandon Sanderson sold $41M worth of books in the span of a month.

But 14 hours of him talking you through writing and storytelling are completely free.

He teaches a class at BYU and tosses it up on Youtube for the rest of us to watch.

Last week, I spent a few hours going through his outline process. The class is an absolute gold mine.

Here’s the playlist with the full course broken into 13 sections:

Want to go deeper on storytelling?

1. If you want a practical way to improve your storywriting in less than 25 minutes daily, check out StoryWork (200+ students).

2. Grab time with me for a 1:1 session on storytelling, newsletters, attracting an audience, or anything else.

3. To sponsor the newsletter, reply to this email for details.

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Have an awesome weekend,