Writing is writing, and the means by which it finds wings is still the product of, for better or worse, a process. This book is all about empowering that process. ~ Larry Brooks
Every so often I discover and resonate with a new blogger. It’s not just because of the concepts they convey in their content or comments; sometimes we share a common life view or I find their personality engaging and I start to care. Most of this happens through the medium of writing, with the odd photo or podcast thrown in.
Does your writing engage folk like that?
Can you lead readers into your life, make them hungry for the skills you share, inspire loyalty and cause them to care if you reach a crisis point in your blogging or your life?
Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com, a guest writer at Write to Done and Copyblogger, can help you do that with your writing and your blog. Better still, if you want to make your living as a writer, he can help you boost your creativity and sell what you write. The first draft of Larry’s debut novel was bought and published - with only slight revisions – and went on to become a minor best seller. His screenplays have been optioned.
He’s recently published an ebook called 101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters: Innovative Ways to Jack your Creativity and Sell What you Write. I’d recommend you buy it, print it off, study all 141 pages and scribble notes all over it. Unless, of course you have a shelf full of published novels, a portfolio of produced screenplays, an enviable life style paid for by your writing and an agent who adores you because you make their life easy.
Larry’s writing voice is strong – often humorous – and the ideas are clear, fresh and easily applied. His ebook and blog posts have inspired my teenage daughter to write better stories for school by giving her structural templates she can explore and experiment with; they’ve enabled her to tap into her love of film and TV drama in order to analyse what makes a compelling story.
Many tips struck me as innovative, some are classics worth rediscovering and there are a few I disagree with. Most of the ideas, though, resonated with me, made a lot of sense or inspired me to action. Here’s a random sample of the kind of chapters the book covers; most of the topics provide rich material for bloggers as well as help for budding novelists.
- Less really is more.
- Pay attention to song lyrics.
- Watch Dr.Phil.
- At any point in the story you need to be able to answer this question: what is the reader rooting for and caring about?
- Forget most of what your high school creative writing teacher taught you.
- Imagine your novel as a movie. Or imagine your screenplay as a novel.
- Nothing you write is ever wasted. Ever.
- Don’t sweat your prose. Do sweat your story.
You’ll find an even more detailed list here:
This isn’t a how to of grammar, punctuation and slick prose. You’ll still have to work hard on your own style and hone your skills – but you do that already, right? It will encourage you to discover what makes you special as a writer and show you how to learn from writers who have that special X-factor. It will help you structure your writing in such a way that you can’t fail to improve everything you write, from a paragraph to a screenplay.
At its heart is Larry’s belief in structure – the architecture of good writing – and the importance of constructing a story with pivotal points, drama, conflict, tension and emotional resonance.
The term “story architecture” refers to the sequence of an unfolding story according to an accepted – and expected – sequence, complete with certain milestones, timing and criteria. In effect, a blueprint.
Mess with it and your story will suffer. As will your readers.
Music has architecture. Sculpting and painting have architecture, even the most obscure pieces. All art is based on some form of structure, even if the lack of structure is what defines the art.” ~Larry Brooks
I’m a fairly organic writer, but I know the value of structure. I’m not a novelist or screenwriter – my background is language study, translation and song writing – but an awareness of essence, empathy and emotional resonance has been vital in everything I do.
For a story to work, it must have stakes. You can have character and plot without stakes – stakes are what makes the reader care – but if you do, what you won’t have is a book contract or a movie deal.” ~ Larry Brooks
Larry’s belief in the importance of knowing what’s at stake in any piece of writing drew me to his work. That, and his passion for incorporating music into the writing process.
Great writing has rhythm to it. A lyrical sensibility. And nothing says rhythm and lyrical sensibility more than music…
…And in case you think I’m speaking only to screenwriters here, you’re wrong. Novelists need visualization and emotional resonance every bit as much. In fact, because novelists have to paint the sky with words instead of stage direction, music can be an even more powerful tool for getting there.” ~Larry Brooks
I’ve watched movies and good TV series all my life and I’m a consumer of the kind of novels that sell millions of copies. I can tell in five minutes if a film will bomb. Most of us have an innate understanding of the structures that sell; we all know the kind of heroes who engage our empathy and create our concern. Larry’s blog, ebook and tips show us how to craft that unconscious competence into something we can leverage in our own work. Even if we baulk at the idea of formulae and structure, he articulates how we can blend the organic and the structural to marry art and craft.
I could say more about what’s in the ebook, but I don’t want to spoil your pleasure. It is, after all called 101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips. I wish this book – and Storyfix.com – had been around when I taught creative writing classes. If I could have written an ebook as succinct and practical as this, trust me – I would have. Larry’s work has got me reaching for my old screenplays and manuscripts, thinking “I wonder…”
This ebook could be exactly what you need to make some of your writing dreams come true. It may take less than you think.
May you find at least one idea that helps you move forward toward the birthing of the best story you can write. If I can deliver that, then you won’t be asking for your money back and we’ll both be delighted with the outcome.
That’s any writer’s dream. If you can touch one heart outside of your own, you have succeeded. ~Larry Brooks