If you read this blog, you’ve probably seen the name Larry Brooks mentioned a few times. Larry is a writer who takes one of the most sane approaches to writing I’ve ever seen. He believes that all marketable writing should fit into a formula, a predetermined map where predictable events (such as plot points) happen at predictable places in the novel. If you follow the formula, he contends, you have a better chance of being published then if you did not.
As an ex-tech writer, I absolutely love this approach. I can see how it makes a writer’s life so much easier. If you know that you need to have a plot point at roughly one-quarter of the way into your book, then that’s where you plan to put it.
I can’t tell you, however, how many discussions I’ve had with other writers about how this is a “fake” way to write. “A good writer emotes, she tells her story her own way.” And while that might be true, I’m guessing that that creative writer is probably not published. You can be the best emoter in the world but if no one buys your stuff that leaves you being nothing more than a starving-emoter who writes well.
Not what I want to be when I grow up.
I have signed up for Larry’s email list (if you haven’t you should, it’s free and he sends out terrific information) which is how I found out that Larry is running a special on his website this month. If you buy an electronic copy of one of his books he’ll send you free (FREE!!) a .pdf copy of his book “Get Your Bad Self Published.”
Here’s the offer:
Hi — thanks for being a Storyfix.com reader. Which means you’re a writer… which in turn means you might like the little free ebook promo I’m running in August. Go to www.storyfix.com for more. I’ll make this short here:
I’ve just launched three of my previously published novels (including my USA Today bestseller and my PW “Best Books of 2004″ honoree) via Kindle, Smashwords and Nook. To help this get going, I’m offering a free copy of my ebook, “Get Your Bad Self Published” when someone buys one of those novels (for $2.99; the free ebook sells for $14.95, so it’s a pretty good deal).
The freebie offer also applies to my most current novel (“Whisper…”), AND to my new writing book, “Story Engineering” (new purchases only, please).
The books and deal are described HERE, hope you’ll check it out.
If you’d like to learn more about the FREE eBook itself, click HERE. Just don’t click “Buy” on that page, you can get it free by opting in to the buy-a-novel-get-the-ebook-free offer.
Well how could I refuse right? I ordered the e-copy of his book, sent him my electronic receipt and in the return mail Larry sent me the .pdf file. In my email I also happened to mention that some of my writer friends continue to have heated debates with me on his material, that they claim that if you plan a book out the way he suggests then it’s not “real” writing.
This is Larry’s response, worthy of inclusion in a post on this blog:
Interesting. I always wonder what those writers are thinking… because… the books of successful authors who don’t understand or accept these structural principles — including those of your group members who happen to author a successful story — end up with a story that looks ALMOST EXACTLY, in terms of structure, layering, and the demonstration of all six core competencies, as writers who BEGIN with these goals in mind.
It’s really a debate (or issue) about process, never about outcome. Because the outcomes — which are the SAME as the goals of the six core competencies and the principles of solid story architecture — is always the same basic model. You can’t, nor can they, come up with meaning exceptions or contrary examples without resorting to ancient literature or experimental fiction. This is about commercially-viable, professional (as in, commerce) writing, not journaling.
Hope you’ll share this answer… I always wonder, when put under the gun on this stuff, who these writers think they are (are they published and successful?) to say what is “real writing” and what isn’t. Process is personal, outcome is defined outside of that, and is not negotiable. Even by “real writers,” which in this case are writers who aren’t for some reason, able to process or proceed according to a proven pathway, but rather, think they must carve their own path toward the goal… which is in the exact same place.
And by the way, I’m a “real” writer, I can assure you and your group. I have the scars, and the published track record, to prove it. (BIG SMILE HERE, Wendy.)
The debate is unwinnable. The outcome of it, however, it inevitable.
I’m happily married with 6 children, but man, I LOVE this guy.
How about you? On which side do you fall in the structure debate? Structure is how it sells or structure is a sell out?
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).
And someday you’ll be reading a book about our chicken adventures that was written using Larry’s “Story Structure” guidelines.