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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...
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:
Part 1 What Are the Six Core Competencies ... and Why Should I Care?
1 The Power of a Fresh Storytelling Model 10
2 The Six Core Competencies-A 10,000-Foot View 15
3 Defining the Six Core Competencies 20
4 Launching the Storytelling Process 24
Part 2 The First Core Competency-Concept
5 Concept-Defined 30
6 The Criteria for Concept 35
7 How Do You Know If Your Concept Is Good Enough? 45
Part 3 The Second Core Competency-Character
8 The Fundamental Essence of Character 54
9 The Three Dimensions of Character 61
10 Character Unmasked 75
11 The Human Nature of Character 80
12 Creating Backstory 86
13 Interior vs. Exterior Conflict 92
14 Crafting a Character Arc 97
15 Character-The Sum of the Parts 106
Part 4 The Third Core Competency-Theme
16 Defining Theme 117
17 Implementing Theme 121
18 Theme and Character Arc 126
Part 5 The Fourth Core Competency-Story Structure
19 The Need for Structure 131
20 Story Structure vs. Story Structure 137
21 The Big Picture of Story Structure 139
22 The First Box: Part 1-The Set-Up 146
23 The Second Box: Part 2-The Response 151
24 The Third Box: Part 3-The Attack 154
25 The Fourth Box: Part 4-The Resolution 156
26 The Role of Story Milestones 158
27 Writing to Publish: The Most Important Aspect of Your Story 163
28 Five Missions for the Set Up of Your Story 165
29 A Deeper Look at Foreshadowing 170
30 The Most Important Moment in Your Story: The First Plot Point 173
31 A Kinder, Gentler First Plot Point 179
32 Shades of Gray: A Somewhat Liberating Spin on Story Structure 182
33 Expanding Your Grasp of the Part 2 Response 187
34 Wrapping Your Head Around the Mid-Point 192
35 Commencing the Part 3 Attack 196
36 Pinch Points 199
37 The Second Plot Point 204
38 The Final Act 209
39 The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool You'll Ever See That Fits on One Page 217
40 The Six Most Important Words in Storytelling 220
41 Outlining vs. Organic Storytelling 224
Part 6 The Fifth Core Competency-Scene Execution
42 The Essential Nature of Scenes 227
43 The Function of Scenes 232
44 A Checklist for Your Scenes 242
Part 7 The Sixth Core Competency-Writing Voice
45 Finding Your Voice 246
46 The Best Writing Analogy I Know 253
47 More Musings on Voice 256
Part 8 The Story Development Process
48 Getting It Written 260
49 The Pantser's Guide to Story Planning 269
50 From How We Do This to Why We Do This 275
Posted March 1, 2011
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.
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Posted July 19, 2011
"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.
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Posted May 22, 2011
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.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 1, 2011
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.
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Posted July 20, 2011
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.
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Posted August 22, 2013
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.
Posted October 26, 2012
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2011
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.
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
Posted June 29, 2011
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.
Posted June 15, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 20, 2011
This is a book that every writer would want to include in his artistic arsenal! Definitely informative without trying too hard to sound too smart. This book of guidelines for writers does not pretend to be anything else other than that--a guideline, and a witty and entertaining one at that. It offers some really helpful practical exercises, insights, and tips for newbie writers as well as seasoned ones who wish to hone their craft further.
The author does not only give the technical aspects of writing. At most, he tries to be an inspirational voice that encourages writers to develop a passion and determination to be good at everything he does--especially in writing. And I believe he has indeed achieved his goal of empowering writers of every level in every which way. This is a writing resource that I will definitely keep close beside me as I take on the challenging journey of being a writer.
It covers everything from the initial urge of writing to write a story, to revising the whole thing up to the very last point. It is not genre specific so any kind of fiction writer can benefit much from it. This book is a real keeper!
I got a free copy of this book to review from booksneeze.
Posted May 20, 2011
So here's the thing I have learned as a teacher. Part of your job is to explain things repeatedly, in as many different ways as possible, until your audience understands whatever concept you're trying to teach them. This is something I often struggle with, as I tend to understand things intuitively in a "Yeah, you know, it's like.and stuff." kind of way. My math teachers in grade school used to think I was cheating because I didn't show my work. I did it all in my head. On a professional level, I understand my subject and it seems simple and easy to me, so when my students don't get it the first or second time, I often have a really hard time coming up with some other means of explaining.
Not so with Larry Brooks. There are so many analogies in this book that you could make a drinking game out of it. Take a shot for every new metaphor, and you'll be hammered by the end of chapter 3. This is the mark of a great teacher. If you don't "get it" by the time you finish this book, you're brain damaged.
It is a MUST BUY, MUST READ, MUST HAVE for every writer, no matter whether you are a pantser or plotter. It will change your writing life, alter the way you see story (in books, movies, TV, or plays) forever. You can never got back to NOT understanding it because in these 278 pages Brooks lays out the core foundation of good story, without which you don't have a prayer of getting published (unless your Tarantino and sold your soul to the devil).
The book covers (as the title implies) the 6 core competencies. They are:
Now I think we all intuitively understand at least SOME of these things on a gut level. Some better than others. We all have different natural strengths. But what this book will do for you is illuminate the dark corners and show you, not only where the weak spots ARE, but how to fix them.
I cannot say enough positive things about this book. Brooks' conception of story structure (which I initially read in a series of posts on Storyfix, then later in a more detailed ebook) literally changed my writing life. I used to have stellar beginnings and kick ass endings and schlumpy middles. I used to refer to it as The Dreaded Valley of the Shadow of the Middle because I was lost. My friends, now I am found. These concepts lit the way so thoroughly that the section of the book I once dreaded now I LOOK FORWARD TO.
Every section of Story Engineering has wisdom to impart. It isn't the kind of inspirational craft book you pick up and breeze through in a day or two. It is, or should be, a slow read, one where you take your time reading through and really think over the content, applying it to your work. Then you'll want to read it again. You'll want your sticky tabs, highlighter, and post it notes handy when you read it. Mine copy is starting to look like a porcupine. But hey, I can attest, the binding is good!
I'll stop waxing poetic here and just end with this: BUY THIS BOOK TODAY.
Posted May 19, 2011
When I first saw that Story Engineering was up for review, I excitedly clicked to order it and was not let down. This book does just as it says, it gives you the tools to master 6 core skills for writing. It was very informative as well as honest. One of the best qualities about this book was how blunt it was. The author was completely honest and forthcoming, he didn't beat around the bush, which I appreciated a lot. Although it felt repetitive at times, I felt like overall this book was extremely helpful to me. I felt like it was a great tool. I found myself marking it up immediately, highlighting and dog-earing the pages. I feel like this is a book I will refer to many times over the course of my life and would recommend it to anyone thinking of learning more skills for writing.
The best part about this book is how it's laid out. I like how it's very organized and flows well together. The author was super thorough and made some great points and gave great and valuable tools for all writers.
Posted May 18, 2011
"You can write like Shakespeare in love and have the imagination of Tim Burton on crack, but if your stories aren't built on solid and acceptable structure - which means, you don't get to invent you own structural paradigm - you'll be wallpapering your padded cell with rejection slips." That's my favorite quote from Larry Brooks' brilliant writing craft book, Story Engineering, and one that states one of his main theses pretty well (he has several, but since a large section of the book focuses on structure, this one stuck out to me). Your story needs structure. Without it, it will fail. He doesn't so much harp on how you arrive at that structure, though it's clear that he prefers the planning method and finds it most efficient, merely that you find your structure somehow and it exists in the form that is acceptable to audiences and industry professionals (your first audience), alike. Brooks' method involves mastery of the "Six Core Competencies" - concept, character, theme, story structure, scene execution, and writing voice. You can see that structure is only one of the Competencies and he delivers equally fantastic advice on each, if not quite in the same detail as he covers structure. Brooks doles out this brilliance with a biting wit and dry, cynical tone. See above example. As I noted in my review of Steven Harper's Writing the Paranormal Novel, it's helpful when craft authors use the same examples repeatedly so the reader becomes familiar with the work, even if she hasn't read it before. Brooks employs the same technique, using a few well-known movies and novels as continuing examples, particularly The DaVinci Code. His communication style is a bit repetitive. He tells us about a dozen times that "drafters" (those who don't plan their novels but rather write multiple drafts of the same story) are really just participating in a different kind of planning process as they search for their stories through drafts. At some point I found myself thinking, all right, already. I get it. But, while occasionally annoying, it was also helpful, as many of his concepts are now burned into my brain through the repetition. So overall, no complaints here. Perhaps this is a strange thing to note, but I liked the brevity of most of his chapters. This probably stems from the fact that I'm a busy mom/novelist, and I don't often get long stretches of time to myself for reading unless I want to stay up until 2AM - which I have been known to do. But with Story Engineering, I could almost always pick it up for few minutes, get through a whole chapter (and thus a whole, complete thought of the author), and not feel like I had to readjust as I sat down the following time to read. Bottom Line: This book is genius. Click "Add to Cart." Quickly. Note: Writer's Digest provided me with a copy of Story Engineering for reviewing purposes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 17, 2011
Im going to go 4 out of 5 stars on this book. If you have any interest in writing a novel this is a good resource. the wuthor spends the first 40 pages trying to sell his formula. It is not the best resource Ive come across but it is one of the top 5.
His formula is simply to train yourself to put a character in that is motivated and driven and set him up to experience life changing events. Create reader empathy and give him hope. he completely outlines a process that will help a beginning writer to develop the necessary skills to write a successful book. he calls it a 6 step plan. A rose by anyother name would smell as sweet and every major book on how to write a book says the same things this books says but in a little different way.
Still, for a new writer this would be a great resource and I would highly recommend it.
Posted May 16, 2011
If you are a fiction writer, this book is a must read. It has fabulous information that makes sense and can be easily applied to the writing process. Story structure helps an author set up their story in the proper sequence with all the highlights and lowlights in the right places.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 11, 2011
From story concept to character development to scene construction and beyond, this blueprint for dynamic storytelling makes putting together a strong novel, memoir, or screenplay easier than ever. Beginning writers in all genres?from fiction writers to nonfiction writers to screenplay writers will learn how to wrap their heads around the big picture of storytelling at a professional level through a new approach that shows how to combine six core competencies: the four elemental competencies of concept, character, theme, and story structure (plot); and the two executional competencies of scene construction and writing voice. You'll discover how to achieve the greatest potential in your story through mastering the way these six factors combine and empower each other on the page. (book blurb) This book was actually quite interesting. It was in-depth about characterization, as well as plot and story construction. The approach to writing was rather different than other books I've read on the subject, It was also a fairly easy book to read.. The author uses several examples of novels and screenplays to demonstrate the use of the six core competencies of writing (concept, character, theme, story structure, scene construction, and writing voice) and also offers several "checklists" to use when writing your own story or screenplay. This book explores the various ways authors and screenwriters use Plot Points, and how they fit into a novel or screenplay, the differences between "concept" and "theme", as well as pacing your story. Though the book is about writing screenplays and novels, and I could see the use of the six core competencies in novels, I found most noticeable the way they are used in screenwriting. This book was rather helpful, with some great insight into the construction of stories.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2011
Writing is my favorite thing to do. As a blogger, it's something that I do almost every single day and it's a craft I've woven into my profession as a marketing consultant. It seems that many bloggers forget about the writing aspect of their posts in the midst of all the photos, videos, product reviews and sponsored "conversations" that we have available. I know I've been guilty of this. That's why I enjoy my Friday Flashback posts so much; They give me the opportunity to focus only on the story and thoroughly explore one small window in time without any of the extra stuff.
I've attended numerous writers' conferences and taken story development courses and seminars, but this book is by far the most concise and thorough explanation of story crafting that I've seen. Story Engineering lays out the six essential elements of a story: concept, character, theme, story structure, scene execution and writing voice. Just about everyone gets one or two of these aspects spot-on, but bringing them together takes skill and devotion. As the author explains, "You can be the best writer of sentences on the planet, but if you don't understand story and the structure that makes it work, you'll have to settle for love letters and poetry."
I would highly recommend Story Engineering to anyone who writes either casually or professionally. The author lays out the essential elements of a story in a manner that's easy to understand and relate to, even for those who have no formal schooling in the subject. Whether you're looking to get published or just want to express yourself better in a journal or blog post, Story Engineering can help you find the words you're looking for.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.
Posted April 29, 2011
Author Larry Brook asks the question "does the world need another book about writing?" After reading this one my answer is definitely ... yes! Story Engineering "shows the storyteller what to write, where to put it, and why it works there without any of it being remotely formulaic." And any writer (from beginner to seasoned) should know and practice the adage - Show, do not tell. Using 6 core competencies (think concept, character, theme, structure, scene execution, writing voice) Mr. Brooks takes the would be novelist by the hand and guides them through the entire process ... "Step by excruciating step." Using well known novels, popular TV shows and movies as examples the writer is taught what works and what doesn't. Working as a community writing instructor for fifteen years I know what writers need to write their first or next novel. And this book delivers. "Nobody on the planet teaches story structure better than Larry Brooks. Nobody!" says Randy Ingermanson, and he should know he wrote the book Writing Fiction for Dummies and is the creator of the snowflake method. The chapter on wrapping your head around theme is a must read (I judge all writing how-to books on whether they have an index - a necessity in my opinion and how the author handles the subject of theme.) Story Engineering will help future novelist reach their goal and help them save time doing it. This one goes on the keeper shelf.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 1, 2011
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.