The most worthwhile $10 that I spent on a writing book recently was for Larry Brooks’ book, Story Engineering. Not only has he suddenly brought structure to my novel, but he’s infused it with new life.
Last November I started my novel-writing journey. I bought a number of books for technical guidance. I’m reading many novelists’ work with a voracious appetite in the hopes of gleaning some nuggets of wisdom. I’m also poring over numerous writing blogs, magazines, and anything that remotely resembles writerly pearls. And now there’s Story Engineering, a book I stumbled upon when I was browsing some of the recommended websites by Writers Digest. Until then, I’d say I was probably wandering in the pantser’s forest. Yes, there’s actually a word for my “fly by the seat of the pants” writing style. Mr. Brooks refers to people like me as pantsers.
Well, I took his advice and started to plan my book. That’s not to say I didn’t have a plan before – it was somewhat unstructured with a loose outline. My left brain kicked into high gear as I read Mr. Brooks’ methodology. I’m not suggesting that writing is left-brained, but I like the structured process. I can overlay my creativity freely over my “beat sheet”. Knowing my destination ahead of time is actually liberating. I know it almost sounds oxymoronish (dictionary says no such word exists)…structured creativity. Hey, if it gets me excited about my writing, that’s what matters.
I have completed the road map for my novel. Thankfully I was only at the halfway point in the book when I realized that I should stop my organic writing. I can now start to navigate my way on this journey with a defined route. While I’m prepared and expect to deviate somewhat during the creative process, I know that the basic path will keep me on course. For any budding novelist out there, if you’re finding yourself doing many re-writes and drafts, I’d recommend trying Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering.