Saturday, December 1, 2018

Story Genius


According to the back cover, this book can "help you crack the story code and create a novel, screenplay, or memoir that will keep readers riveted. Using one novelist's evolving story as an example throughout, Story Genius takes you step-by-step from the first glimmer of an idea to an expansive multilayered cause-and-effect blueprint - including fully realized scenes. By plumbing the nitty-gritty details of your raw idea to organically generate your story's internal logic, meaning, and urgency, you'll end up with a first draft that has the authority, richness, and command of a sixth or seventh."

I bought this book because I did exactly what the book says on the back cover: spent months "writing hundreds of pages only to realize the story has no sense of urgency and no internal logic."

Having read this book I now understand why those stories failed and also, how I managed to write some stories to the end. In the latter case I pretty much did what Cron talks about in the book without entirely being aware of it. Having failed in my last 2 attempts to write something worth reading, I decided to do things differently.

Now, I will say that the evolving story that's used in the book isn't the best example, in my opinion. And at times it was hard to translate what Cron suggested to the type of story I was writing. But I persisted and now, having done all the exercises and written 20K plus words, I actually feel like I'm in a much better position to write the story. Instead of plunging forth into the darkness with my lantern and compass like most pantsers, I now have a somewhat detailed map of my destination, character studies, scenes, backstory, and knowledge of the world in which my characters are going to live in for the next 300 or so pages. I don't want to say it's plotted, because that's not what the book is about. It's more like laying the perfect foundation upon which to build and having a blueprint of what you will build. For the pantser (like me) who doesn't want to plot too much but is willing to explore backstory and character motivations, this has proved to be an excellent how-to book. I would also hazard a guess that for the plotter, the book might be equally as helpful.

Final words: If you've ever spent months "writing hundreds of pages only to realize the story has no sense of urgency and no internal logic" then this book is definitely for you. Even if you haven't, I'll bet you'll find something useful.

As for my glimmer of an idea, the only thing I'll share is the picture that sparked the what if...




Meanwhile, it's cold here in Maine. Not horribly right now. And I'm glad the rain came and washed most of the snow away. But it's December. And that means spring is four long months away. Months filled with cold and snow and ice, and I have no vacation to look forward to. But. I do have a story I'm looking forward to writing and that, my friend, is a very good thing.




18 comments:

  1. I look forward to someday reading your novel based on that photo! Good luck!

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  2. I think I just lost my comment exploring the photo further.
    It is wonderful that you have found a tool which works for you, and I too look forward to reading the tale inspired by the photo.

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    1. It's an intriguing photo. We'll see if the book proves as helpful as I hope...

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  3. Good look to the writing and stay warm!

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    1. I have my little heater next to me so I'm staying warm today :)

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  4. I've always wondered how many writers actually plan everything in advance!

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    1. I have 'plotted' out a novel before, but I've also pantsed my way through. Some writers never plot, others always plot. This book is for either type of writer :)

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  5. I read that book a while ago, but I wasn't overly impressed with it. I think it has some helpful pointers in it, but I was more interested in learning something new about the psychoneurological aspect, which is woefully lacking and based more on anecdotal than scientific grounds. But I'm really glad to hear the book had what you needed to give you a little kick in the pants. (so to speak) Good luck with the new book! That photo is verrrry intriguing.

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    1. It certainly isn't a perfect book, and I didn't find the sample story very interesting, but I have found a lot that rings true and is very helpful (I think). As said, we'll see, right?

      And yes, the photo. It provokes all kinds of questions, doesn't it?

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  6. Interesting. I've been seeing this book pop up all over the Internet lately.

    And my family's all in Maine, so I've been hearing a lot about the cold and snow. They had an impressive amount of it on Thanksgiving. Hope the rest of winter is kind to you!

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    1. I'm getting something out of it, so as fart as I'm concerned, the money was well spent. And yeah, Thanksgiving day was super cold and we had snow from two small storms. Thank heavens for wood stoves!

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  7. It sounds a bit like what I do, figuring out how things work before hand. I might find it helpful to articulate how these things come about, though.

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    1. I think it really helped me to figure out a lot about the world and the characters I wanted to write about BEFORE I actually wrote the story. It also helped me better visualize the ending.

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  8. I just reviewed a book by one author and his memoir/how-to book on writing. This one sounds helpful but I am sure it's not nearly as funny as the one I read.

    wwww.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  9. Oh, how wonderful! So happy that you're writing. Stay warm, my dear.

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  10. I read this book over the summer and loved it. But I had to abandon the draft I'd nearly finished for a revision I was doing. And then I had to steal a goal from this manuscript for the revision I was doing.

    I'm going to use this book for all future drafting.

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