A review of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. ISBN 1582979987
This book brings a clarity to the fiction writing process I have not found before. I have read a lot of excellent how-to-write-fiction books, at least over 30 and took thorough notes from most of them. I have also completed two lengthy courses on fiction writing. Yet I found this text super-helpful.
The “Six Core Competencies” of story writing
That’s what Brooks calls the major topics of his book. They are:
- Story Structure
- Scene Execution and
- Writing Voice
And he covers them all–and more–in only 278 pages. Good news, since most of us writers are already up to our eyebrows in reading material. Yet he does a thorough job of explaining his points. Plenty clear enough to put them to work in your planning and writing right away.
This isn’t the only book you should read to perfect your fiction-writing skills, but it is really a good place to start!
Clear Guidelines are essential
All of us who write fiction, whether we are beginners or pros, whether we are striving to write the great American novel or just to get published, can benefit form insightful, well-written guidelines on how to go about it. I, for one, need constant reminders of the many aspects of story-writing I want to keep in mind. This book provides those guidelines.
A good story idea is not enough
I also need a game plan, a well-thought-out procedure for building that idea into the novel it can become. I need to consider topics this book covers as I plan and organize my ideas. Not formulas, but the big picture and what needs to go where and why. Formulas can be rigid. But the principles the author includes are flexible, and rather than inhibiting creativity, they encourage it.
Brooks provides this key information in detail with clear explanations, illustrations from contemporary novels, as well as rather amazing and entertaining analogies.
My favorite portions
The chapters on story structure and theme are among my favorites (although you couldn’t pry any part of the book away from me).
Get published sooner?
Would you like to publish a novel? Would you like to do that in a few years rather than ten or twenty? I cannot guarantee you’ll be published, of course. But assuming you have that potential, I think this book can hasten your victory.
P. S. If you haven’t visited Larry’s blog http://storyfix.com/ I recommend you check it out. I’ve read quite a lot of his posts, and each time I came away with something new or something that needed reminding.