So what do you do when you’ve finished one big project, pushed it out the door, and are just waiting, waiting, (waiting) to hear about it?
You turn around and focus on the next piece.
Oh sure, I have my articles to keep me busy (at last count, I have 19 due in the next 2 months) and I have my blogs, but I also have another book-length manuscript in me (maybe even more.) And while it feels a little like I’m abandoning my first-born, there is nothing to do until I hear what to do. (I know, it sounds rather Zen doesn’t it?)
I’m going back and starting from the beginning with this next project (even though I have a 300 page rough draft.) I’m going to plot the organization and the action and then see what I have and see where it fits. It’s been sitting, patiently waiting for me in a box for a few months. Hello friend of mine, let me see you with fresh eyes.
While some may object to this rather clinical approach to writing, I’ve always worked well with structure and guidelines. I love a story that is so well constructed, it can hold water.
I love books where themes are subtly repeated throughout. I read a book recently where you were hit you over the head with the book’s theme of “bloom where you are planted” in *every* chapter. Enough already – if the author had had a structured outline, she would have seen how repetitive she was. I love books where a detail mentioned in an earlier chapter becomes important in a later one, a continuity that makes sense, and each chapter logically follows the one before.
But to do that well requires planning. A lot of planning.
I’ve read many “blogger” books lately and I have to say, that for the most part blogging does not translate well to book writing. They are just not the same beast. You can be an excellent blogger (and there are some very good ones out there) but a lousy book writer.
In a blog post you can explore voice. You can get a little sloppy with your language. You can make assumptions on what your readers know.
But if you don’t understand that a book has a different structure and formula, you are going to get people who will shake their heads after reading your book and say “huh, what just happened?” Blog readers are already familiar with your story, unlike those readers of a book, who need to be taken by the hand and led through your story.
So how is this done? How best is a blog converted to a book (or any information or story for that matter)? By knowing book structure and by knowing story formulas. I don’t care if you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, the bones are important. They are so important.
The bones are what makes your story stand.
Which is why this weekend, I’ll be sitting at my computer with some of my favorite story architecture books (Blueprint your Bestseller by Stuart Horwicz , Story Engineering and Story Physics by Larry Brooks) and I will working on defining my blueprint *before* I attempt to build my house.
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). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com)