Great Stories Don't Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction

Great Stories Don't Write Themselves: Criteria-Driven Strategies for More Effective Fiction


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


One of the most common questions new writers ask professionals is how they wrote their book—what was their process for storytelling? Did they use an outline to plan the book, or write it from the seat of their pants? But really the question should be about the general principles and nature of storycraft—does every part of a story have what it needs to keep readers turning the pages?

Bestselling author and creator of Larry Brooks changes the sound of the writing conversation by introducing a series of detailed criteria for novelists of every level and genre to refer to while writing, regardless of their preferred writing method. Beginning with the broadest part of the story, the early checklists help writers to ensure that their novel is based on a premise rather than an idea, and gradually hones in on other elements to keep the story moving forward including:

·         dramatic tension
·         narrative strategy
·         scene construction

Readers won't know or care about the process. But what Brooks offers here is a chance for readers to make the most of whichever process they choose, and in doing so cut years off their learning curve.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440300851
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/05/2019
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 349,405
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Larry Brooks is the award-winning USA Today bestselling author of six novels and four writing craft books, including the bestselling Story Engineering, from Writers Digest Books. He is the creator of a widely respected craft-building website for fiction writers, and frequently teaches at workshops and conferences nationally and internationally. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his wife, Laura, who is an artist. He can be reached through his website at

Table of Contents

Foreword Robert Dugoni 1

Introduction 6

Part I It's All In Your Head

1 The Mission of the Novel, and the Novelist 15

2 Developing a Criteria-Driven Nose for Story 24

3 What Happens When You Know 32

4 The Sound of the Writing Conversation 38

5 Realities, Odds, and Other Inconveniences 49

6 The Power of Storytelling Context 57

Part II Navigating The Leap From Story Idea To Premise

7 The Eight Criteria for Premise 68

8 The Mission of Your Story Idea 77

9 The Idea-Fueled Premise 88

10 The Criteria for Concept 94

11 Context for Criteria-Driven Drafting 116

Part III Criteria For The Parts And Parcel Of Story Development

12 The Functional Mission of Story Structure 125

13 Contextual Application of the Four Quartiles 135

14 Structure-Enabled Characterization 146

15 Criteria for the Part 1 Set-Up Quartile 153

16 Criteria for the First Plot Point 166

17 Criteria for the Part 2 Hero's Response 174

18 Criteria for the Mid-Block Pinch Points 181

19 Criteria for the Midpoint 187

20 Criteria for the Part 3 Hero's Attack 193

21 Criteria for the Second Plot Point 201

22 Criteria for the Part 4 Resolution 206

Part IV The Sum of The Parts

23 Criteria for Effective Scenes 217

24 Criteria for Professional Narrative Prose 227

25 Caveats, Exceptions, Contradictions 237

About the Author 245

Acknowledgments 245

Customer Reviews