Story Engineering

Story Engineering

4.1 39
by Larry Brooks
     
 

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What makes a good story or a screenplay great?

The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding where to begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that successful stories are as dependent upon good engineering as they are artistry. But the truth is, unless you are master of the form, function

Overview

What makes a good story or a screenplay great?

The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding where to begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that successful stories are as dependent upon good engineering as they are artistry. But the truth is, unless you are master of the form, function and criteria of successful storytelling, sitting down and pounding out a first draft without planning is an ineffective way to begin.

Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling, the engineering and design of a story--and uses it as the basis for narrative. The greatest potential of any story is found in the way six specific aspects of storytelling combine and empower each other on the page. When rendered artfully, they become a sum in excess of their parts.

You'll learn to wrap your head around the big pictures of storytelling at a professional level through a new approach that shows how to combine these six core competencies which include:

  • Four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot)
  • Two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice

The true magic of storytelling happens when these six core competencies work together in perfect harmony. And the best part? Anyone can do it!

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582979984
Publisher:
F+W Media
Publication date:
02/24/2011
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
212,772
Product dimensions:
8.24(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.76(d)

Meet the Author

Larry Brooks is a critically acclaimed best-selling author of six psychological thrillers (including Darkness Bound, Pressure Points, Serpents Dance and others), in addition to his work as a freelance writer and writing instructor. He is the creator and editor of Storyfix.com, one of the leading instructional writing sites on the internet. His website is www.storyfix.com.

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Story Engineering 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
PMMessina More than 1 year ago
Like a million other "wanna-be" writers I have a shelf full of how to write books. Or maybe two shelves full. I've written three, so far unpublished, mystery novels and I've learned a lot about the craft of storytelling with each one. However the time it took to write my first, by my old seat-of-the-pants, uneducated process caused me to write and re-write it several times over the course of three or four years. Not a prodigeous output. My second book, a sequel to the first, lies "complete" but untouched in my laptop. Then I discovered Larry Brooks. I was able to purchase an early version of Story Enginering. Once I began to understand the need for story process as taught by Larry things seemed to fall into place. I recently completed a first draft of a 64,000 word mystery in about six months that actually reads pretty well thanks to following Larry's methods of story planning. I'm always mistrustful of zealots, so I'm trying to temper my views a little. Quite frankly, the process Larry lays out in this book works. If you are going to add one more book on writing to your shelf, this is the one to have.
LookinaBook More than 1 year ago
Story Engineering - Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing As someone who hopes to have a published book someday, I chose to read Story Engineering with the hope that it would kick-start the courage to actually begin putting the story ideas that have been swimming in my head down on paper. While I haven't delved into the writing yet, I have stepped out of the boat and at least chosen the idea I want to work with. I believe that taking the time to study "Story Engineering" was well worth the invested time I spent reading it. It is not a book to be simply read, but one that must be studied. I had to read and take the time to really think about the chapters. I had to spend time thinking of how they would and should apply to my writing. Story Enginerring is organized into 8 sections. The introduction gives an overview of the 6 core competencies and the reasoning the author states that they are important to good storytelling. The first core competency is concept. This section really helped me evaluate the story ideas I have collected and to prioritize them into which ideas might actually be worth exploring. The next section leads us to the second core competency which is character. As a instuctor at the local junior college, I can tell you that we spend a lot of time talking about character in the composition and analysis classes I teach. I found this section to be very well written and thought out. The author examines all of the various avenues that play a part in the development of character in a story. The next concept the author addresses is theme. While this section of the book is shorter than other sections, don't be fooled into thinking that theme isn't important. The information provided in this section of the book really captures the difference between plot and theme. The next section covers story structure. To me, this is the author's best work. This was the treasure I was hoping to find. This section isn't really a "how to" or "formula", but more of an inquiry into what makes a good story. It's taking those things, tearing them apart, examining them, and applying them to the story you are hoping to craft. The final parts are scene execution and writing voice. After the "meat" of story structure, I found these sections to be informative, but they didn't necessarily lead to that "aha" moment. The author finishes up the book with a closing section on the process of story development. In all, I would recommend this book. This book is an investment - not something to be read quickly. Not a book you will devour. It's one you have to take in small bites and contemplate. Thanks to Book Sneeze for offering me the opportunity to read this book. I received this book through Book Sneeze, a part of Thomas Nelson Publishing. The opinions expressed here are my own and were in no way influenced by the publisher. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Fedral Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book on how to write fiction. You will not be disappointed if you purchase this book even if you are a panster. Larry explains all of the elements of story structure that is required to write a great story.
Alla_S More than 1 year ago
"Story Engineering" by Larry Brooks consists of eight parts-including the introduction, the six parts dedicated to six "core competencies" (concept, character, theme, story structure, scene execution, and writing voice), and part eight, the last chapter, which is dedicated to the story development process. Right off the bat, the author admits that there are many books dedicated to writing a book-many of which are written by famous novelists themselves, but nevertheless fail to accurately analyze the process. Brooks goes about this a different way-saying that the best structure for writing a fiction book is one that the screenwriters use, and one which Brooks himself has adapted for this book. On the other hand, he avoids advocating formulaic writing=--straight off saying that his book is about concentrating on different aspects of the story, instead of relying on some kind of a formula. If you're looking for just that-a formula to writing a successful novel-than you're better off picking a different book. On the other hand, Brooks himself admits that formulas often don't work. Overall, I found this to be a helpful reference tool to writing a story. Many of the things Brooks covers have already been covered before, but nevertheless, I found the book well organized and presented.
KWeiland More than 1 year ago
Larry Brooks has long been one of the most respected writing instructors on the Web. Those familiar with his site are already aware of the quality information he churns out week after week and won't be surprised to learn that his recently released book on "mastering the six core competencies of successful writing" presents more of the same. I read many how-to writing books every year, and I glean something from almost every one of them. But not many offer truly revolutionary ideas about the craft and how to move forward to the next level as a writer. Story Engineering does just that. Larry frames the book on the idea that every successful story is made up of six necessary "competencies" (four elements and two skills): Concept, Character, Theme, Story Structure, Scene Execution, and Writing Voice. He brings worthy and inspiring ideas and suggestions to all these subjects, but the heart and soul of this book is undeniably the twenty-three chapters on story structure. Story structure is so often neglected in the teaching of fiction writing. We learn how to create three-dimensional characters, high-concept plots, and powerful themes - but without the ability to frame them in a strong structure, they're weak-sauce stuff at best. And yet, so many writers are crafting story structure on sheer instinct, instead of a foundational understanding of what makes a solid structure - and what doesn't. This book takes away the guess work. Larry teaches what constitutes a correct structure, how to recognize and study it in the stories of others, and how to implement it in your own work. If you're only going to have two books on writing on your bookshelf, make it John Truby's The Anatomy of Story - and this one.
Garridon More than 1 year ago
I got this book because it had been recommended as being about structure. The business terms use (milestone and Core Competencies) also suggested it might be taking writing from a business metaphor. Instead, I got a book that was marketing fluff and didn't present anything new. The Core Competencies ended up being more like a marketing buzzword to relabel fairly common writing elements like characers that you'll find in any craft book. The book describes this as a new approach that other books don't do, but it didn't give any new insights into the craft. The book says it's not about outlining, but all it does is label an outline as a plan. One of the turn-offs about the book is that it kept bashing writers who don't outline. Non-outliners are greeted with sarcastic phrases like "Good luck with that" because they don't outline and there's a clear suggestion they won't ever get published unless they follow the plan in the book. So the book manages to alienate a part of the audience who might have been able to take ideas and use them in different ways. The other turn-off is the marketing spiel. It might work well in a workshop where the author can use voice and inflection to make it work, but in a book for 200+ pages, the constant high energy "Sell! Sell! Sell!" it's just too much. That alone made this a book that I wanted to put down and not read.
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I've not gotten too far -- too busy. However, I'm a little put off by someone who wants to teach us how to read and has a book peppered with grammatical errors. I look forward to actually getting into the meat of his theories, but it sort of feels like he was padding the beginning to get to the six points because without the padding the book wouldn't be long enough.
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runtowrite More than 1 year ago
I really like this book and agree with the other reviews that also like how the book conveys the major areas needed to write great fiction. I wil be using the book to write my future compositions and this book will help me to revise my first drafts and make them much better. I look forward to Larrys next book, Story Physics.
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PlantsandPillars More than 1 year ago
Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of successful writing. Overview: Story Engineering is a rather interesting "how-to" book. As Mr. Brooks takes you through the 6 Steps for Successful writing, you come to understand how to build your story. He compares it to the way you read a recipe for a flavorful dish. Or how you build a house. Just what are the 6 steps? 1. Concept: What is concept versus ideas versus premise? 2. Character: Of course you know your characters must have character. They must be interesting, exciting, and deep. But, character is always a challenging must to the story. 3. Theme: When you read or watch a movie you know what it was about. Mr. Brooks points out that you know what it was about on two levels. About what the plot was and about what the story means. The latter is theme. 4. Story Structure: The four pieces of structure, setup, response, attack, and resolution. 5. Scene Execution: Mr. Brooks compares this step to the building of the house. Up until now everything has been two dimensional. A blueprint. Now we begin to build. 6. Writing Voice: Keep your adjectives to a minimum. Mr. Brooks guides you through writing with a great voice. In addition to all of this, Mr. Brooks also goes through Story Arc and Plot Points. My Impression: I enjoyed my time spent in this book. I thought he had a lot of good stuff to say and Mr. Brooks is a talented writer. One thing I especially enjoyed was the advice for screenwriters, something I am very interested in. However, there were some draw backs. One was the occasional use of language. Another was the examples of movies and scenarios he used were not always the cleanest. I find this to be a disappointed flaw in many writing books today. Also, this book lacked appeal for rereading. I will keep it on my shelf to use for the occasional reference, but it won't be very likely that I reread it. Due to this I score this book a three. Score ~ ??? Violence ~ None Indecency ~ (3) Language ~ (3) Age Appropriateness ~ Ages 15 and Up
BlogfulofBooks More than 1 year ago
Can I just tell you, right off, how much I enjoyed Story Engineering? Yes, I think I can. Story Engineering: Mastering the Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks is an enlightening book filled to the brim with advice for authors who are constantly aggravated by the questions "What do I write and where do I put it?" and "What exactly does a book/screenplay need in it to be successful?" It's easy to come up with an idea for a book or screenplay; it's a lot harder to execute it well enough to become published (or at least to feel confident in one's own work). With humor and an easy-going attitude, Larry Brooks efficiently details the six core competencies of successful writing. By the end of the book, the reader should have a very good sense of how to proceed in his or her own writing. Brooks also offers advice for "organic" or "seat of the pants" writers - those who prefer to skip story planning. For me, that was an extremely helpful section, as I've never enjoyed planning what I write before I write it. Also, Brooks defies the common standard of drafting that is popular among writers; this goes hand in hand with refusing to plan, really. I especially enjoyed this section because, as I have read about how to go about writing a full-length novel, most authors recommend the style of drafting, where the writer writes several drafts in order to eventually come out with a good, crisp novel. I've never been one to enjoy drafting. And, as Brooks points out, drafting is a huge downer on a writer's soul because it involves constant rewriting of a three hundred plus page manuscript. Not fun. With Brooks's method of understanding the structure of a story and utilizing a beat sheet (which outlines scenes), a writer will eventually come out with a first draft that is only a few minor tweaks away from completion. That sounds a whole lot better to me! Even if you've sunk yourself deep into the concept of drafting and "organic" writing, give Story Engineering a shot. It's an entertaining book to read, first of all, but, second, I think any writer can gain useful information from it. This is definitely a book to break out the highlighters, sticky-notes, and paper clips with, as I can guarantee you will read something that you'll want to make sure to remember later. The publisher was kind enough to provide me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Jen_McCade More than 1 year ago
Learning to write fiction - that is, good, quality fiction that an editor will embrace - is a little like Theseus seeking the Minotaur in the labyrinth. The prize is there, but where? In his book, Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, Larry Brooks gives the writer tools that will assist in crafting a story. Teaching the reader about Concept, Character, Theme, Story Structure, Scene Execution and Writing Voice, Mr. Brooks maintains that by learning and implementing all six of the core competencies the writer will be able to craft a complete story - one that covers all the bases. The problem with most stories, Brooks states, is that "they still fall short of expressing the essence of a great story." Without the blending of the core competencies together the writer is left with a story that is flat. It can have great characters, or a stellar theme, but it fails to carry them through in a way that will bring the reader a "literary feast." As I read the book, I found myself being persuaded that perhaps Brooks has a map to the labyrinth of crafting stories. I tried a few of his techniques in the first draft of my work in progress, with the result of feeling more confident that my story captures that essence of storytelling that all writers seek. I plan to implement all six of the core competencies as I begin the rewrite of my story, balancing them as Brooks suggests. Of course, Theseus found his prize with help from Daedalus and Ariadne, but he still had to slay the monster himself - and that's the task that Brooks leaves to his readers. This book won't write your story for you, but it will provide you with the tools you need to do the job. A free copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review.