Sunday, March 27, 2011

101 Slightly Unpredictible Tips by Larry Brooks

Today I finished reading 101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips For Novelists and Screenwriters, Innovative Ways To Jack Your Creative Productivity and Help You With What You Write by Larry Brooks.

I love Larry Brooks.  If he wrote the instructions for an android phone, I would read him.  And, I don't even have an android phone.  But, that title.  Something shorter next time, please.

This book is a compilation of posts from his blog,  Some have been incorporated into his other eBooks or his new book, Story Engineering.  But, where duplicated they evidence information that needs to be read more than once.

I recommend Larry Brooks and to you.  I aquired this book when Larry had a promotion giving this eBook away free to people who bought Story Engineering.  This is a good book.  It's worth its full price.  I give it three stars.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inside Story by Dara Marks

Today I finished reading Inside Story, The Power of the Transformational Arc by Dara Marks.

I am stunned, inspired and afraid.

It is an awesome book outlining the path to incorporating theme into my story in such a way as to make it both enjoyable and meaningful.

It's the meaningful that is scary.  What do I have to offer that is meaningful?

The prospect that I could follow a specific methodology to develop a theme and incorporate it into Bon Secour is inspiring.

I was stunned that there was in fact a way to logically approach and develop theme.  Every how-to write book says you need theme.  No one tells you how to do it.  Most say, you will discover your theme as you write if you do everything else right.  And, what are the chances of a first time writer doing everything right?

This is way to develop theme is doable but it looks hard.  This is definitely a book I'll have to read more than once.

I give this amazing book FIVE stars.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Smart As A Front Porch Dog

Harold told me today that someone we were talking about was "as smart as a front porch dog."

I have no idea what the difference between a 'front porch dog' and a 'back porch dog' is.  Under the porch dogs I understand.  You drive up to a house in the country and here they come barking at you from under the porch.

'As smart as a front porch dog' calls to be in a story.

I love Haroldisms and Suzisms.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Crossfire by James Patterson

Today I finished reading Crossfire by James Patterson.

I read this book as a part of my Learn to Write by Reading Project.

I have enjoyed the movies with Morgan Freeman and this character so I chose it to be the James Patterson novel I read.  And, I wanted to read a James Patterson novel because his name is always somewhere on the NYT & USA Today bestseller lists.  And, Forbes said he made FORTY million last year as a writer.  He must be doing something right.

He is very popular.  When I requested this book from my library, I was number eighty-three on the waiting list and the book had been out for months already.

Reading Crossfire was interesting.  Patterson hit the screenwriting beats within a page or two every time.  He ends every chapter with a closing sentence that poses a 'what's going to happen question.'  Each scene is a chapter.  This book has 117 chapters.  Sometimes a scene has several locations when the point of the scene is 'movement'.  His 'voice' is ordinary - nothing special like John Hart's.

Why Patterson is worth $40,000,000 a year is a mystery worth further investigation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How lucky do you feel?

He sat in the examination room of his Family Care Doctor with his wife.  No one said much.  She was there to make sure she got the answers she wanted to hear.  He didn't usually ask the right questions. 

The doctor arrived.  The doctor explained what nodules usually meant.  She explained what the mesinary was that the nodules sat on.  And, that the oncologists recommendation of surgery to remove the nodules was indicated.

He told her that he wanted to wait for a second opinion on the need for surgery.  He was going to Shreveport for his annual cancer doctors check ups in early April.  He wanted to ask them what they thought.  She said the decision could wait.

She said, "I won't tell you that you have to have surgery.  But, what I will say is, How lucky do you feel?"

Ya gotta luv it when your doctor thinks she's Clint Eastwood.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Back In The Saddle!

My work in progress Bon Secour has been collecting dust since December 10, 2010.  Not a keystroke since until today.

What happened?  Life.

First I got sick and spent multiple days in the hospital before Christmas.  Then Christmas, grandchildren, more medical tests.  Then my wife had day surgery that turned into a week's hospital stay.

But mostly, it was because I was intimidated.  Afraid.  Scared.  Full of fear.  The perfection demons were eating my creativity.  You only have one chance to make a first impression / you only have one chance to get your first novel right.  Etc.

I didn't like how I was writing.  I didn't like my 'Voice'.  I read that you could develop a writing voice by copying the works of authors you admire.  They suggested that you copy five or six different writers  They claimed that after you finished the project you would have your own unique voice.  But, that it would embody the best of the authors your copied.  So I've been copying scenes from John Hart's The Last Child. I was going to turn my humdrum writing into that of a voice with a golden throat.  Guess what?  I'm still not John Hart.  Still want to be.  Won't quit trying.  But, it's probably just not going to happen.  
Larry Brooks' (one of my favorite writing gurus) new book, Story Engineering, came out last week.  I had pre-ordered it on Amazon so the ink was barely dry on my copy when I started reading.

It was definitely more fun to read about how to write a novel than to sit, afraid, in front of the blank screen of my story.  So, naturally, I read instead of actually writing.  I did pick up more than a few new ideas.  They inspired me to pick up Bon Secour and re-read what I had written so far.

As you would guess, it had not miraculously turned into John Hart's voice.  It was still me.  But, I found as I read it that I liked me.  Maybe no one else will.  But I like me.  Violence, sex, humor in a twisty dangerous plot.  I want to write again.

On page 257, Larry Brooks wrote in Story Engineering,
     "It takes an agent or an editor many dozen pages to determine the merits of your story.  It only takes a few pages to assess the rhythm and melody of your writing voice.  Those first pages expose the writing as that of a professional, someone who is publishable . . . . or not.  If it compels, if it flows, or doesn't overwhelm, it passes muster as acceptable.
     And that's all that is required of voice.  Any allure of a stellar writing voice beyond that point is a case study in diminishing returns.  You don't have to write like a poet to sell your story.  You simply need to write well enough to get through the door into a crowded hall full of storytellers.
     From then on, your story is what determines your fate.  At that point, once you can hang with the pros, sentence for sentence, little if nothing else matters."

I will continue to copy from time to time. I do learn a lot more from copying than reading about how an author actually writes. Actually structures his scene, paragraph and sentence.  But, I think it is more important right now that I finish fleshing out my first draft/outline than it is to spend hours each day copying someone else.Thanks, Larry.  I needed to stop worrying about voice and go back to the things I can fix.  Right now that's working on writing better scenes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Today, I finished reading Story Engineering, Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks.

Okay, I admit it.  I am a HUGE FAN of Larry Brooks.  I've read his books, eBooks and blog,

My copy of Story Engineering is heavily highlighted and underlined.  There is at least a mark on each page.  Most pages are covered.  Only one page has no marks and that's because it is a checklist that I typed out in Word to use for Bon Secour's scenes.

Yes, Story Engineering contains a lot of material that he has previously published in eBooks or in his blog.  Story Engineering links them all together, and he adds enough new material that this book is well worth its price.  Larry Brooks does the best job of anyone I've read explaining what to do and how to do it.

BUY this book.  READ this book.  RE-READ this book.

I've only got five stars in my rankings.  This book deserves six.