Monthly Archives: December 2009

Top Ten Storyfix Posts of 2009

Seven months. 128 posts. Well over 100 unaccounted for typos. One joke. 22 guest blogs. One commenter who called me a prick.  Over 1200 new friends who allow me into their inbox every morning. 

Two ebooks.  A major publishing contract with Writers Digest Books for The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling.  A new novel that wasn’t the child of this blog, but you’ll see me write about it more when it comes out in March, because it allows me to practice what I preach.

The teacher is transitory, but the student is eternal.

Damn, what a ride.  I had no idea what I was getting into. 

Thank you for sharing it with me.  My goal is to make Storyfix the best fiction writing site on the internet in 2010.  My commitment is to do what it takes to make that happen.  And that’s a win-win for us all.

The Top Ten Storyfix Posts of 2009

10.     Get Published, Part 6 — Avoiding the Common Pitfalls

9.       The Most Powerful Two Hours You’ll Ever Spend As a Storyteller

8.       The Writing Tip That Changed My Life

7.     A Holiday Gift For Writers With A Dream

6.    The Twins: An Ode To  Dangling Body Parts

This has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but it is one of my favorites.  The client decided it wasn’t right for his website, so I decided to put it on mine.

5.     And The Nominee For Best Director In a Novel Is…

I reference films and screenwriting a lot here on Storyfix.  Here’s why.

4.     Story Structure Series #4 — The Most Important Moment In Your Story: The First Plot Point

3.      A guest post by James N. Frey, author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel, entited Who You Are and Who You Ain’t

Readers went crazy for this one.  It’s too long for a traditional post, so I carried it over onto its own page. Read this, you’ll see why.

2.     Introducing the Six Core Competencis of Successful Storytelling

The centerpiece of everything I do.  Both as a writing instructor and as a fiction writer.

And the #1 Storyfix post of 2009 is…

1.      The Single Most Powerful Writing Tool You’ll Ever See That Fits On One Page

‘Nuff said.

Favorite Guest Posts I’ve Written For Other Sites

Copyblogger.comWhy Content Is No Longer King, and Who Is Taking His Place

Brian and Sonia just named this to their “Best Blogs of 2009” list, so it’s not just me. 

Men With Pens Did You Reach YourNaNoWriMo Goal?

Even though the byline says otherwise (a tech error, corrected in the comments), this baby is mine, one of six guest posts that have appeared on this great site (still waiting on his promised guest post here… right James?).  James and I are putting together a co-ventured ebook on the writing mindset, so look for that in Q1 of 2010.

Write To Done two favs here: The Art vs. Craft Gap – A Writer’s Paradox… and SOLVED: The Outlining vs. Organic Writing Debate

For a good time, read the comment thread on that second one… wherein I am enthusiastically labeled a “prick” by one very organic and confused writer.  I have another killer post in the batters box at this site, about which I’ll let you know.  And FYI, I am not a prick.

This post is also being run, beginning today (12-31-09), on the website. — The Storytellers Tale: How A Fiction Mindset Will Empower Your Blog

Hugely successful bloggers like Darren are beseiged with guest pitches.  So when mine went unanswered I called him out in another guest blog, and the guy did the class thing — he apologized and invited me to submit a piece.  Which he loved, thankfully.  Hoping his 134,000 daily readers did, too.

Bloggingtips.comBetter Blogging Through Self-Flagellation

I have a regular Friday gig on this site, and have about 12 posts in their archives.  The last one sort of made me giggle, so here it is.

Romance Writers of America Rewording the Conventional Wisdom About Structuring a Romance Novel

Always fun to find an entirely new audience hungry for fresh information.  These folks gobbled up my Six Core Competencies model with all the passion you’d expect from folks who write about, well, passion.

Starting this weekend here on Storyfix we return to finish up the Get Your Bad Self Published Series, with entry #8: Keeping The Bar As High As It Needs To Be.

(Quick legal note: I am an affiliate.  See if you can discover the link in this post that requires me to tell you that, lest some suit show up at my door with a grin and a summons.)


Filed under other cool stuff

Let Me Fix Your Story… Before Someone Kills It


Fair warning, this is a pitch. 

If you have a story, regardless of its stage of development, and you’d like to see how it stacks up against the criteria and parameters of my Six Core Competencies development model – or if you’d simply like to know if the thing is working or not – you might be interested in what I have to offer.

It’s on my mind today because I just finished an analysis for a writer who was pretty sure his story was ready to go.  While I don’t like wearing the black hat, I had to tell him it wasn’t, and I presented a lengthy and succinct explanation as to why.

He may not know it upon his first exposure to my feedback, but basically, I saved his ass.  This is a serious writer with serious aspirations, and this little intervention could change his life.

Because if he revises his story in the direction I’ve prescribed, he has a shot at selling it.

He’s a good writer working with the seed of a good idea, and while his fully-developed outline indeed covered all the structural and mechanical bases, it was just enough off the mark to ensure rejection.

If he doesn’t… at least he’ll know why it didn’t sell.

I can and will do that for you, too.

Here’s why you may need my services in this regard.

Imagine you’re a star pitcher – analogous to a strong writer – and you’re attending a tryout for scouts from a major league team (analogous to submitting your work for representation or publication).  There are lots of pitchers here that, like you, can throw a baseball over 90 miles per hour, the very thing that has made you a local legend.

You and every other player here today.  Velocity is a commodity at this level.

Like many of these pitchers, you look good out there on the mound.  Smooth as butter.  The folks in the grandstands ooo-and-awe as your fastballs pop the catcher’s mitt, and they assure each other – and you – that you’re ready for the Big Time.

But of the dozens of local star pitchers trying out today, only one or two will be offered a professional contract.

Will it be you?  Are you ready?  Do you know what it is that will separate you from the others in the eyes of those crusty old scouts? 

Are you aware, specifically, how high the bar really is, and what you need to bring to the ballpark to compete at this level?

Welcome to the Major Leagues

Like velocity, every writer pitching a story believes they have the chops to write the hell out of it.  Their friends and peers tell them so, and maybe they’ve had a dance or two with a few scouts (agents) before.

So if everybody is throwing heat (nifty prose and killer concepts) and if everybody demonstrates solid mechanics (story structure and character arc), who gets the contract?

In writing, that’s a judgment call.  One that you, as the author, aren’t in a position to make.  All you can do is the best you can do.  If someone can show you how to do it better… well, that becomes your call at that point.  You can listen, you can respond or you can defend what you’ve done.

Pitchers who continue to believe that their high heat will make them successful at the pro level find out quickly how wrong they are.

In pitching, it’s about so much more than velocity.  Or even throwing strikes, which is also a commodity.  It’s more about placement and strategy, about working the strike zone.  Because at this level a strike, thrown out over the plate, will quickly leave the ballpark in the form of a home run.   

At this level you need to tickle the black with a running sinker thrown deceptively from the stretch while behind in the count with men on base.

Which is to say, good just isn’t good enough in the major leagues of writing.  Because good is everywhere, common as discarded paperbacks.

Success at the major league level is about changing speeds, deception, movement of the ball, consistency, endurance, confidence and power, and a sure touch with men on base.

Is your story at that level? 

You may have nailed the structure of your story (you may have even learned it from my ebook on the subject), and you may believe your command of the six core competencies is what’s been getting you the approval of your peers.

But is it really ready?  Is it better than good?  And how do you know? 

Answer: I’ll tell you. 

Here’s how it works. 

I will evaluate your treatment or outline (we can talk about reading your entire manuscript some other time, because that’s much more expensive) up to 25 pages (combined with any actual manuscript pages you care to submit), for $400.

Why that much?  Because it takes me hours.  And it’s worth every dime no matter how long it takes.  Three decades of studying, learning, practicing and teaching this stuff is what enables me to know where to put my thumb in a leaking dike.

Included in the process is an up-front questionnaire that allows me to understand your intentions and strategy for the story, against which I will evaluate the story itself.  The evaluation begins before I read a word of the outline itself.

What comes out of this is a Coaching Document that analyzes your story on four of the six core competencies – conceptual strength, characterization, theme and story structure.  And while an outline doesn’t exemplify scene execution and your narrative writing voice (the other two of the Six Core Competencies), I’ll give that a go, too.

If it’s great, I’ll tell you.  If it’s broken, I’ll tell you that, too, and why. 

And if it’s good but could be better, I’ll identify what’s soft and what can be done to make the story stronger.

It’s like a coach coming to your house (figuratively, I promise not to show up on your porch) before you attend that tryout. 

That’s my pitch.  If you’ve got a story and you’re not sure if it’s good enough… or even better, if you’ve got a story and you are sure it’s good enough, it’s an investment in your writing dream.

(Sample Coaching Documents available upon request.)

Coming Thursday – The Top Ten Storyfix Posts of 2009


Filed under Six Core Competencies