Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Re-establishing my process

I'm very close to resuming writing my novel. About six months ago I stopped writing. This was a good thing. I was in the process of getting ready to move from Texas back to California, and with packing, making the move, finding a new residence, and getting settled in, I needed to take a break. It was at this time that I discovered Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Perfect timing. I had been struggling with my story, and was getting frustrated and discouraged. I read Larry's book before leaving Texas, and the insights and information gave me a lot to think about as I traveled West. What I found were the solutions to my story problems. After getting settled, I set my book aside, and focused on structuring my novel. To be honest, it was HARD work. I'm still not sure I got it all right, but fortunately, Larry offers an amazing deal for a full story-arc evaluation that I am currently in the queue for. I don't know how long this offer will be available, but it is a great opportunity for any one that wants professional story coaching. You don't even need to have a manuscript, in fact it is specifically not for full manuscripts. You just need to know your story, write up a synopsis of your story, and answer a series of questions Larry provides. Trust me, the questions will make you THINK. They will challenge you in understanding your story, and the result will be a clarity that you didn't have previously. Larry will respond to your answers, giving you guidance and high-lighting problem areas. 

My process has evolved as I have learned more about writing. I've had a few false starts, taken a few steps forward, a few steps back, and modified my work flow. Story Engineering has had the greatest impact on my process, simply because it has given me a process that ensures my story, assuming it is compelling and well written, will meet the expectations of agents, publishers, and readers. That doesn't mean I will get published. There are too many other factors to assure that. But, it does mean I will have adhered to the principles of story telling that readers expect. 

My process used to be to do an outline and beat sheet, with my scenes identified. I did a lot of thinking about the story and characters. I outlined the book from start to finish, understanding it would change and evolve as I wrote, discovering scenes that didn't work, creating new scenes, maybe even introducing new characters. It was a pantser approach based on a skeleton outline and beat sheet. Larry showed me how to put meat on that skeleton. I have already started working on a follow up to my first book, and it is a joy to have the tools and knowledge to identify the plot points, pinch points, and establish a cohesive structure that holds it all together, and gives me a framework for writing the story.

Here's a couple of things I would encourage you to do:

If you are open to an insightful, comprehensive process for creating your story that meets the expectation of readers, agents, and publishers, it will change your writing life.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John:
    I stumbled across your blog via your comment at Larry's site. I have just been reading Story Engineering and feel it has immensely helped me as I rewrite my WIP. In fact, as I headed into yet another "pantsed" draft, unsure what to cut and what to keep, I found analyzing what I had in terms of his story physics model simplified my story and highlighted a lot of the weak spots. I think an apt analogy was my story had lots of narrative flesh but not bones -- it couldn't stand and it sure couldn't run.
    I'm seriously considering his $100 12-page analysis service. Glad to read you found it a helpful experience.