Kevin's head has been in the clouds since he was old enough to read. Ask him and he'll tell you that he still wants to be an astronaut. A retired Army officer, Kevin has a diverse background in space and space science education. A former manager of the world-renowned U.S. Space Camp program in Huntsville, Alabama and a former executive of two Challenger Learning Centers, Kevin works with space every day and lives in Colorado with his family.

Kevin's bestselling debut science fiction novel, Sleeper Protocol, was released by Red Adept Publishing in January 2016 and was a Finalist for the 2017 Colorado Book Award. Publisher's Weekly called it "an emotionally powerful debut." His military science fiction novel Runs In The Family was released by Strigidae Publishing in January 2016 and re-released by Theogony books in 2018. Peacemaker, Book 6 of the Revelations Cycle, was released in 2017, spawning its own line of books in the Four Horsemen Universe.

Kevin is an Active Member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and he is member of Pikes Peak Writers and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. He is an alumna of the Superstars Writing Seminar.

The Mercenary Guide to Story Structure by Kevin Ikenberry

Everyone loves a good story. What do all good stories have in common? Structure.

There are two prevailing traits amongst writers when discussing structure – they're either plotters or pansters. A plotter creates a detailed, sometimes heavily regimented, outline for their novel while a pantser writes "from the seat of their pants" and discovers the story and characters as they go. The kind of writer you are doesn't matter when it comes to story structure, though. Really.

Why? We've understood story structure our whole lives. It's been passed down for hundreds of years and we inherently understand it, but bringing it to the page requires a different mindset entirely. We have to understand story, but we also have to pay attention to plot, theme, and most importantly, characters and their goals. The best part? It's more simple than you think.

Kevin Ikenberry's first attempt at a novel took him eighteen months to write and was rejected by every publisher he approached. When the second idea came along, he decided to do it differently and dig in with story structure. With the help of a good mentor, Kevin took the research and advice to heart and wrote that second novel in less than two months. That novel went on to become his debut novel and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

What changed? Kevin learned the nuances of story structure, how to effectively use plot and theme, and how to create lasting, influential characters with real emotions and real conflict. This is your chance to do the same and take your writing to the next level – through understanding structure.



  • "I highly recommend picking up this quick, fun, and informative read if you are looking to plot out your story or double-check what you have outlined already covers all the necessary bases."

    – xanthian11, Internet Reviewer
  • "This book, if you want to be a writer, is just money well spent."

    – Dan B, Internet Reviewer
  • "[I]t's very clear that these lessons are compiled not only by an experienced author, but specifically by a military scifi, action-adventure author, who will dig into your Star Wars nostalgia while teaching the content."

    – MJS, Internet Reviewer



Chapter One

Definition: Mercenary (courtesy of


1.working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.

2.hired to serve in a foreign army, guerrilla organization, etc.

noun, plural mer·ce·nar·ies.

a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

At first glance, the title of this book might have scared you. Let's face it, mercenary doesn't exactly have the best connotation, does it? And now mercenaries are writers? Who is the one working or acting for money or reward? You? Me? I don't understand!

Neither of us are in this for the money. Writing for profit is hard, so let's rule that one out. Neither of us have been hired to serve in an army or guerrilla organization. So, how is this a mercenary guide of any type?

Follow my logic here, will you? You're a writer. If you're like most writers I know (including me), you want to get paid for your work. Whether that's selling a pro-rate short story ($0.08 per word or more) or a novel with a massive advance and bestselling status, you want to get paid. Mercenaries do things to get paid, so there's that, but the other part of my logic comes back to another word featured in the definitions above: professional.

As a professional writer, you need to carry a big toolbox. You'll need grammar and voice. You'll need description. You'll need plot. You'll need action and emotion. You'll also need story structure. Let's be clear here—I'm not telling you outlining is the only way to tell a story. Nope. Not even close. Writing from the seat of your pants (pantser) or writing from a 30,000-word outline (plotter) doesn't matter when it comes to an understanding of story structure. Structure is a massive piece of the foundation of writing. Some of us come by it naturally. For others, it requires a lot of training and discipline. But chances are if you've picked up this book you're one of those folks who know when something is about to happen in a movie or TV show. You know something is coming in a favorite book and you stay up well past your bedtime to find it. Sound familiar?

Welcome to the club, writer.