My name is Larry Brooks, and I’d like to thank you for visiting here at Storyfix.
ABOUT THIS BLOG…
Here’s the intro elevator pitch for those who like their “About” sections short and sweet.
I’m a career writer from the corporate sector who, like most of you, had nourished the fiction writing dream the entire time. I’ve since published six novels, a couple of them with modestly respectable resumes, all of them nicely reviewed. I’ve written two bestselling writing books, with a third coming out in August 2015 (all published by Writers Digest Books). I also do a lot of workshops and conferences at the behest of writing groups and clubs, and I operate a story coaching service based right here out of this blog.
Oh, there are a few ebooks kicking around out there, too.
Now for the backstory, if you’d care to stick around.
The genesis of this blog comes from the thousands of folks who have attended my writing workshops. The consensus is this: “I’ve been attending writing workshops for many years, and I’ve read all the how-to books, and this is not only the best and clearest thing I’ve heard, it’s the first time someone has actually shown me how to write a novel (and/or a screenplay), structurally and thematically.” The developmental model referenced in that consensus feedback is what I call “The Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling,” which is the topic of my book by nearly the same name.
That led me to write another book, “Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling,” which explains why those six core competencies work, and can be found in virtually every successful piece of fiction ever written.
Writing workshops and how-to books come in all flavors and intentions. But rarely is the process broken down into specific developmental criteria, from concept to character to sequence and theme, with a vision for how all the parts come together to become a whole in excess of their parts. This blog is based on that breakdown.
I do not advocate one process over another.
This stuff works for story planners and story pantsers alike, and everything in between.
My message to writers who wish to publish or succeed as a self-published author is this: the bar is very high, the market is very crowded, and the standards and criteria for effective storytelling are very clear and accessible, though perhaps lost within the din of the writing conversation. The moment you declare an intention to publish, to write professionally, you are signing up for a tidy and largely inflexible list of those requisite criteria, formats and expectations, the nature of which applies directly to what you write. If you want to make up your own form and function of storytelling, the road is even longer.
There is only one thing you have control over in this business, and it’s not your career (which, once you put your writing out there is largely out of your hands, to be honest) – it’s your manuscript. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be better than perfectly fine. It needs to grab an agent or an editor who has seen it all before by the throat and squeeze.
This blog is about how you can evolve your work to that level.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER: LARRY BROOKS…
Other than a 17-year stint in the marketing and training business, Larry Brooks’ resume reads like a Cheesecake Factory menu. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon in 1952, he graduated with a degree in marketing communications from Portland State University in 1975, attended in the off-season during an unremarkable five-year career as a professional baseball player (he pitched in the Texas Rangers organization). This led to his first published writing: a magazine article on the life of a minor league pitcher. Still not keen on a writing career – the money sucked then, too – came a few more swings and misses: history’s worst stockbroker for the world’s largest brokerage firm, the world’s worst personnel manager in a department store (remember what Dirty Harry said about Personnel managers?), and a couple of other humbling fliers he chooses to forget. Each abandoned career resulted in another published magazine piece lampooning the experience, and his interest in writing began to emerge as his best – and perhaps last – viable career option.
He was also the voice behind the airport public address announcement we all hate (“No stopping or parking on the roadway in front of the terminal, violators will be cited and towed,” et al) for 14 years at PDX (Portland International Airport). As claims to fame go, this is as anonymous as it gets.
In 1983 he answered an ad for a “script writer” at a small audio-visual production company – eight art majors and a slide projector. Cut to 1996, when the company was one of the largest marketing and training firms in the western U.S., and Brooks was the executive creative director and a partner, with 100-plus employees and a portfolio with more corporate videos, brochures and other useless stuff than Harlequin has romances. The business sold in 1999, at which point Brooks took the money and ran toward the career he’d been quietly cultivating on the side for the prior two decades – writing novels and screenplays. And now, as a novelist/blogger/freelancer/workshop speaker and story coach.
His first published novel, DARKNESS BOUND, was based on one of his original screenplays, featuring – here’s a surprise – a stockbroker who hates stockbrokering. It debuted in October 2000, spending three weeks on the USA Today bestseller list. His second novel, PRESSURE POINTS – an ad exec who hates the ad business – appeared to good reviews in December 2001, with comparable sales. His third novel, SERPENT’S DANCE, was a February 2003 release from Signet, also well reviewed despite selling like parkas in Pakistan, and his fourth, July 2004’s BAIT AND SWITCH , earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, who named it their lead Editor’s Choice for that month, and at year-end to two of their notable lists: Best Books of 2004 (lead entry, mass market), and Best Overlooked Books of 2004 (the only paperback so named; perhaps, says Larry, a dubious honor he should not be bragging about).
Since then he has written two novels : DEADLY FAUX (the sequel to 2004’s BAIT AND SWITCH, published by Turner Publishing in 2013) and THE SEVENTH THUNDER, a secular apocalyptic thriller (2014, also from Turner Publishing).
In late 2002, Brooks’ script for the adaptation of DARKNESS BOUND was named a finalist in the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the folks who bring you the Oscars. It was one of ten scripts selected out of 6044 submissions, which he hopes you find impressive, especially since he didn’t end up winning one of the five Fellowships. Too dark, they said.
He did get to spend an afternoon kicking around the craft of storytelling with Frank Darabont during his week in L.A. for that contest, which, if you’ve ever seen “The Shawshank Redemption” you’ll agree is a big deal.
Brooks has been developing and teaching writing workshops since the mid-1980s. He has been named a Mentor by the Oregon Writer’s Colony, and continues to teach at workshops around the country (“Call me,” he whispers here). His first writing book, “Story Engineering: Mastering The Six Core Competencies of Successful Writing,” was released in early 2011 from Writers Digest Books, based on the popular developmental model upon which he bases his workshops… and this blog.
Brooks is very happily married to his wife of 20 years, Laura, an artist and interior designer (who assures everyone who has read Larry’s first novel that she is not The Dark Lady). He also has a wonderful son, Nelson, who is 25; three supportive step-children, Tracy, Scott and Kelly (two of whom have read all his books, none of whom want me to reveal their ages); and seven step-grandchildren who have absolutely no clue what “Poppy” does for a living.
Larry and Laura live in Scottsdale AZ, where he is busy coaching other writers, writing this blog and working on a small truckload of emerging projects.
Again, thanks for stopping by.