Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Story Structure

I'm going to talk about goals a little bit and share another of mine. Craft books. I love them. I have shelves of them. Some I haven't read yet, some I have and they weren't so great, and some were worth more than I paid for them. I think that probably goes for anyone's TBR (To Be Read) pile, whether it's craft books, romance, mystery, nonfiction, etc. So as I pondered my LTGs (Long Term Goals) earlier this year and all that I wanted to accomplish, reading at least one craft book per month was on that list. This month, the book was Story Structure Demystified by Larry Brooks.

Some of you may have never heard of Larry Brooks. He has several thrillers out and a few books on the craft of writing. He also blogs fairly regularly about writing. I urge you to check him out. You can find him in my blog roll to the left under Larry Brooks – Story Fix.

So I read Story Structure Demystified this month. This was one of those books worth more than the cover price. His writing is easy to read and fun, he uses examples from The Davinci Code (you don't have to have read the book to understand though) and he makes what could easily have been a dry subject, not.

He talks about the structure of a story (imagine that, right?) for both screenwriting and novels. There are four parts of the story – the set up, the response, the attack and the resolution. Within this structure, you have milestones. These are the plot points and pinch points that make up the backbone of your story. He suggests by using this structure, putting the milestones in certain parts of your novel, that your story will flow more easily and you'll know where to go next.

I think he makes sense and his ideas can be useful for plotters and pantsters alike. To start, I can determine my first plot point, first pinch point, mid-point, second pinch point, second plot point and the final resolution. At this point, the pantster can take off, writing furiously, organically and hopefully not get caught going down the wrong path. It will save time and work. The plotter can expand on these points. Outline scene ideas that lead from to the other. In either case, you are either working toward a milestone or away from one.

Of course, he goes into more detail and gives examples, but his method resonates with me. I find myself thinking about my current WIP, Blood Diamond, and identifying the milestones and wondering if I have them in the right spot. I know that I can, and will, keep this structure in mind as I go through revisions once the first draft is done. Overall, worth the money. I'm even thinking of making his newest book, The Three Dimensions of Character, my March craft book of choice.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you visit Larry's blog? What are some of your favorite craft books?


Larry said...

Hi Riley -- Sharon Pickrel alerted me that you'd written about my book this morning, so I'm here to say thanks, I'm delighted you got so much out of it. Thanks again, and happy writing! Larry

Rachel Lynne said...

Hey Riley, I read Larry's blog too! I haven't read that book but I'm very interested!
Blood Diamond is coming along like gang busters so quit worrying :)

amy kennedy said...

Hi Riley, I read Larry's blog too, and have been wondering about buying this very book, now I know I should. Thanks for writing about it.

Riley Quinn said...

Thanks for stopping by, Larry. A great read, truly.

I'm here to tempt you, Rachel. Just give in. LOL

I'm glad my opinion has helped to persuade you, Amy. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

LLRosser said...

I bought and absorbed the book a few days ago. I'm re-reading and taking notes. I thinks this may be one of the most important how-to books I've purchased. I knew I was missing something in my writing. And this book tells me what it is. Thanks, Larry, if you stop in again.

Riley Quinn said...

Great idea, LL. I'm probably going to go back through it again as well.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Riley,
Thanks for posting this. I'm always interested in how to books. :)

Suzanne :)

Riley Quinn said...

Me too, Suzanne. I've got loads of them.

Autumn Shelley said...

Thanks Riley!
I too have been mulling over Larry's book so it's good to have another writer's opinion. Love your work!! :)

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