Aiming For Sturdy Structure
Learning how to make your aim true is often about relearning the fundamentals. Great athletes and snipers must maintain the fundamentals. And so must every person that strives for excellence in any endeavor. I’ve reignited my mission to craft Out of Oblivion into a great book by re-reading the most inspiring book I’ve ever read on the craft of novel writing, Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. This is the book, of all the books I’ve read on story craft, that catapulted Blood & Soul out of my imagination onto the pages of Amazon.com where it stayed on Amazon’s Top 100 for 5 and half months. Yes. I did that. I made a dent in the universe.
Coincidentally, Brooks has been apparently been going through a rekindling as well:
Hey storyfixers… I know I’ve been MIA for an inexcusable length of time. Thanks to Art Holcomb for filling the void a few times while I went about the business of reinvention, rejuvenation, ducks-back-in-a-row stuff, and a general inventorying and understanding of why people read my work, why they come and then go away, and what writers are truly looking for when it comes to mentoring, teaching and the discovery of totally free information that will take them deeper into the craft of writing and the pursuit of their writing dream. – Larry Brooks at Storyfix.com
I will never forget the day I stumbled upon this interview, and like the First Plot Point in any good story … it changed everything. I was an orphan wandering around in the confusing proclamations of story land and its so-called “experts,” trying to make sense of contradictory claims and finger-wagging that amounted to “Thou Shalt Not Follow Rules”.
I sometimes wonder, had I not discovered Larry’s book, would Blood & Soul have ended up being so successful for an independent author. I had such high standards that were not being met and I pounded my forehead against the desktop. Larry Brooks was, and is, my Gandalf. He lead me through that perilous path of novel writing. What a treasure for only $9.99 on Kindle and WHAMMO! everything changed for the better.
I need direction! I am such an exploring soul that I need a light, a guide, a limit or I will wonder forever gazing at crystal skies and chasing shiny ponies. I discovered this and realized I needed a strict teacher long ago. I was too wayward. Reading Story Engineering was like finally admitting the wolves had me and that I submit to the sheep dog. I looked in the mirror and realized I needed a face lift or a peeling away of the facade of pride in being artsy fartsy. Deep down I knew I had problems when it came to focus and organizing my rampaging mind. But is that not what we are taught in this post modern world? To abandon centuries of well-thought-out standards prior to us slobbering in our early civilization cribs. I needed barriers to focus and intensify my explosive creativity or Blood & Soul would have remained a dream, a river out of its banks, headlights, and doors in the wrong places.
Out of Oblivion has endured my wayward exploratory lust and a lack of faith in tried and true standards. I started falling victim to the same mistakes before Blood & Soul. Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and James Patterson are, perhaps, instinctive and phenomenally gifted. Perhaps I am too but I don’t have the inherent instinct to apply story structure and physics that they seem born with. I can imagine it, I can sense it. I can feel it. But I can’t grasp it from that place at the genesis of my overview and planning of the story. I grasp it tenuously at the beginning and by the study of the craft, I hold it through the creation process.
I guess we are so impressed with King and his type that we think success can only be attained through the exact route he takes. But there are myriad examples that contradict. I’m striving to be one of them.