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Well, it’s all too very coincidental not to write you. So, there I was, dutifully depositing money into a gambling machine in Rockaway Beach, Oregon not long ago. I strike up a conversation to the man next to me who was winning big time – and to me big time is ten bucks. He and his wife were a lovely couple. I believe they live in Lake Oswego as well as have a place in Rockaway. So, the conversation goes to ‘what do you do’ and I said I was a novelist – “Oh, really? So is my stepdad! Do you know Larry Brooks?” “Why yes,” says me. “We appeared at the same writers conference in Gig Harbor a few years back…” actually Fox Island, but what’s a few scenic miles between novelists? So, I’m thinking small world – I happened to grow up in Lake Oswego and also have a beach house in Rockaway. Time passes on – then I see your letter and link in Carolyn’s newsletter – I met Carolyn and her husband at the Las Vegas Writers Conference three years ago. Then I see you are publishing through Amazon Shorts and I happen to know Dan Slater who runs that program! Well, that’s just too many lobs over the bow for me not to say howdy, reintroduce myself and see how you are doing.
I still live in Gig Harbor and speak at conferences as my schedule allows. With a new novel coming out this fall and with six audio books coming out throughout the year, I am one busy writer. I get down to Rockaway twice a month to get serious work done. I also will be sticking my toe into the epublishing world in the next few weeks with a Slangmaster Book . I will be using Smashwords to publish a book on booze slang. If I find it worthwhile, I will continue to put out several more books since my Slangmaster database has over 33,000 entries. I know. I need to get a life.
I wish you well on your assorted projects. Sounds like you are perking right along.
P.S. Was it Scott and Inga?
Hey Randall — man, the world is crazy-small. Thanks for writing. I loved the Gig Harbor conference, by the way, really great people and spectacular location. You sound very busy… curious about the six audio books, are they from previous work, or original stuff (sorry if that’s an obvious question)?
I’m about to do the ebook thing, also. Mine is “101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips for Novelists and Screenwriters,” and it’ll be on my site and elsewhere (going the Clickbank, ePub and Secure ebooks route). Will send you a copy, on me.
It was Scott and INGER, by the way. She’s lived a lifetime with people not getting her name. I actually used her name in a manuscript recently and my agent demanded I change it. Never told her that, though.
Hey, stay in touch, nice to hear from you. Best of luck with all your projects. And get some sleep, I see it was 4:39 when you wrote this. (I was awake, too… occupational hazard, I think). Take care —
PS– Dan Slater was my editor at Penguin Putnam for all of my books there… back before they tossed me under bus (which was after Dan left for Seattle). Small, small world.
Larry, found your website through Men With Pens. Does your website indicate your workshop schedule? Am looking forward to reading/hearing more. Thanks for the inspiration at 5 am in the desert! Eliza
L.B., I’ve often wondered what you did with yourself after your great career with the “Outer Edge.”
Sounds like you have had yourself one interesting career after another!
I retired three years ago from the Portland Police Bureau and moved to beautiful Bonanza, Oregon. (20 miles east of Klamath Falls) Joyce and I have thirty acres of beautiful Ponderosa pine and Juniper trees.
We occasionally return to Portland to visit with our kids, grandkids and Lary and Molly.
If you’re ever in the area, stop by and spend an evening on the ranch with us.
Hope to hear from you.
I just received the OWC calendar with the nekkid Mr. Brooks, who proves once again a writer can write anyplace! Awesome! How about a new series called The Naked Writer? Oh, the fun we could have with that one — after all, don’t we expose ourselves everytime we put our prose to page? You’ve just taken the next step. For the photo you could use the pic of you reclining on the desk. Thanks for baring your body and soul.
I very much enjoyed meeting you last weekend at the Willamette Writers Conference and greatly enjoyed your workshops. Thank you for taking the time to critique my MS and for your kind, encouraging and flattering remarks. I would like to discuss this some more with you, on a professional/business basis to be agreed so if you would like to contact me at your convenience, it would be terrific.
With best wishes,
Hey back, Larry; Took me a few weeks to figure out I need to check back here and reply to your reply to my first contact in July. Am I rambling? Anyway, you asked about the audio books – they are coming out through Books In Motion in Spokane. They have just brought out HONOR BRIGHT, THE LIKES OF ME, and THE CORNERSTONE. Coming soon are THE FOUR ARROWS FE-AS-KO, THE ROYALSCOPE FE-AS-KO and THE 1898 BASE-BALL FE-AS-KO. I did this by assuring my rights had reverted from Random and getting the okay from Catbird Press, since the last four books are still in print. Let me know if you want contact information on Books In Motion – check ‘em out. Otherwise, it’s white knuckle time for me, awaiting trade reviews for HELLIE JONDOE, my November release.
Oh, another co-inky-dink – I was Writer in Residence at OWC last spring. I won’t be there this Sunday for their anniversary, though. I met Dan Slater through Western Writers of America. Terrific person and I’m glad to know he and his family are enjoying the Seattle area.
Stay in touch!
I have been stuck writing Father Vitalis novel. I thank you for unstucking me.
Surprise! Whether you know it or not, or choose not to acknowledge, you have become my mentor!
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Hi I saw that you are a part of Blogging Tips.
So I’m Benjamin Lang from http://www.ben-lang.com (an entrepreneur blog.)
I was wondering if you are interested in writing guest posts on my blog. I dont have much time to write posts so Im looking for bloggers who are willing to guest poss, it could only help you out because I link back to your site, which could help drive traffic back to it. And Im also currently adding an authors page which really could help you out.
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Hi Larry, I just sent you an email about how great Story Structure – Demystified is. Your book really opened my eyes. I knew storytelling had structure, but truthfully, I was ignorant to what that structure was. After reading your book, I’m anxious to break down my manuscript to see where it’s at in regards to that structure.
My only suggestion to improve your book…make it also in audio form !! (unless it is and I wasn’t aware of it). Reading your book. Hearing your book. Two great ways to saturate a rusty brain.
Thanks for writing it!
Jan Romes – Ohio
Larry Brooks is one of the nicest men you will ever meet! Buy whatever he is selling and you will be supporting someone who has put his whole heart and soul into the product.
I’m happy to have found your site. I started my career blog in August, 2009 http://www.thejobswami.com and am starting 2 e-books on finding jobs.
I’ll be tuning into your advice and if you ever have workshops on the east coast I’m all ears.
The Job Swami Career Advice Site
Do you have some advice on turning our site into a book? We have an outline and two sample chapters.
@DrB — funny you shoul ask that. I just did a guest post on Copyblogger.com on that very topic. Here’s the link, let me know if you have further questions. Good luck!
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Larry, last month, I was a guest lecturer at a story structure workshop at my son’s high school film class. We broke it down. Story structure feels forced and too theoretical when you first encounter it, so I then did a scene by scene exercise based on a short film I did for the class. Wish I’d had your breakdown of Avatar then, you could have been my whole lecture. Seriously, very well done and very helpful even to those of us who’ve been at it for awhile. Avatar–the story, maybe not great art, but a great object lesson in how classical story structure delivers the goods. Love the blog.
Cheesy. Nice. What do you gain by saying that? If you have real feedback, I’d like to know. if my appearance bothers you (its hardly radical or certainly not pretentious, it’s a freaking leather coat, dude, what do you wear, a Nehru jacket?). Feedback please.
Hi Larry, So much to read on internet these dayz, but did read all of your points on hook and fpp, clear and concise, so will get your books to add too my collect.i’m on a very tight deadline, to finish two full features, by end of April, and your points helped me see clearer, to ramping it upppppppp.
Hi Larry,would now like to buy all 3 books,The Three Dimensions of CharacterStory Structure – Demystified”,101 Slightly Unpredictable Tips i live in London,are can’t find on Amazon, whats best way,yes while back was going to,was undecided.
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Great to meet you at the WW conference. (I’m the blond woman who compulsively sits front and center so as to absorb knowledge as rapidly as possible. )
I’m already applying your principles to my novel — the one that’s 70% complete — to its definite benefit. I’m determined to get it published. And though my own website is not about writing, I’ve taken the liberty of adding you to my blogroll http://www.diamondcutlife.org/
Finally, I really like your self-effacing, funny bio on this page.
I connected to your blog via a link in The Writer online. I feel that I discovered you just when I need you – structure is right at the top of my list this week. But perhaps not a perfect fit. I am not writing fiction, but a biography as creative nonfiction. My question: how well does your format work for this?
My first book took 10 yrs. to write. No contract, no pressure until the end of the process. No such luxury with this book, a sequel to the first, so I need to work more efficiently. Your beat sheet looks useful up to a point; don’t know if the details of your suggested structure work for what I am doing.
In any case, I am subscribing to your blog –love it already for so many reasons — and I’m hoping your story structure book can work for creative nonfiction.
Many thanks for being there –
fyi – Actually I found your link on The Writer’s fb page.
I’ve been subscribed to your posts for a while now and I have learned quite a lot from them, especially the Story structure ones. They’ve been very helpful.
I’ve been reading a mystery thriller and for some reason I’m not quite seeing how the story structure works on a mystery novel. I know it is there, but how does the structuring influence the way clues and red herrings are placed?
Finally! I found a way to “connect” with my (unknown to him) mentor, Larry Brooks.
Why, you ask, am I trying to conntect w/ Larry?
Since the workshop I attended sometime in 2005-06, I have toyed with the idea of entering an MFA program in creative writing, and am now about to do so.
What I need to know, for purposes of the application, is the date(s) and title of that workshop presented in Salem, Oregon on a weekend, in some kind of medical administration building on 12th St. SE.
The reason I remember the workshop so vividly, along w/ the excellent presentation, is the pretty young minister’s daughter who attended who announced that she was writing a kind of memoir about how a minister’s daughter became a prostitute. That piqued everyone’s imagination.
Larry, or anyone else who may have attended, can you help me out with details? I’ve searched and searched and cannot find them among my paperwork.
Thanks so much,
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I just saw that you will be a presenter at the 2011 LDSstorymakers conference in Salt Lake City. I’ll be there and I can’t wait to see you live!
Hey, of Syd Field’s books, what’s the difference between his book ScreenPlay and The ScreenWriter’s Workbook. From reviews, it looks like each was called the “bible” for screenwriting and storytelling. They were published within a year of each other. But from the ToC and first pages, they look very similar. If I had to get one of these two, which one would you recommend?
@Joe – about Syd’s two books… I’d go for the first. The workbook is something that asks you to apply your work in progress to specific “tasks” called for in the structural model, but it’s the same model. The first book is iconic, so that’s my recommendation. Enjoy, it’s great stuff. L.
Congratulations on the Top 10 Blogs for Writers Award. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving writer.
We haven’t “officially” said congratulations for winning the Top 10 Blogs for Writers Award. So, Larry, CONGRATULATIONS!! What an honor! And it’s one you deserve, not only for all the hard work you’ve put into storyfix.com but for the gifted writer you are.
Wes & Nadine
As a full-time, published and produced writer, I’m always learning about my craft. I have your book on order, but have a question about a seeming contradiction. While reading the preview on Amazon, I notice that you say the body falling on the cab in Collateral IS NOT the first plot point because it happens too early, 15 percent into the film versus 25 percent.
Instead of the First Plot Point, you describe it as, “a plot twist, an inciting incident, and a whopper.”
BUT, in another part of the book, you describe, “the First Plot Point…also known as the inciting incident.”
I am looking forward to your book and hope my confusion results only from my not having the entire book at my disposal right now, but can you explain this apparent contradiction? In your model, is the “inciting incident” the same as the “first plot point,” or does it occur before the first plot point (as in most story structure models)?
“A Killer Like Me”
“House of the Rising Sun”
@Chuck — thanks for commenting. I’m aware of that contradiction, and have several posts in my archives trying to amend and expand on it. The new book does that, too. This is something I discovered, rather than borrowed, and I think it’s a critical point. “Collateral” is the perfect example of the Inciting Incident NOT being the plot point, and of using this double-whammy effectively. It taught me a lot, and it’s been fun sharing this one with readers. So good catch.
I’d intended to fix this in the ebook — my bad — but with the new book and all, that one got away from me. I’m going to be pulling the ebook off for a while when the new writing book comes out next month, but when I relaunch it I’ll definately address this one.
Thanks again, hope you’ll stick around. And congrats on your books, I’ll check ‘em out. Take care, and stay in touch — Larry
Thanks, Larry. I’m really looking forward to the new book, Story Engineering. It’s right now on pre-order from Amazon.
I have trouble with characters’ inner journeys, and I am hoping to learn something from you.
On that earlier point, so the inciting incident in most cases sets up the FPP, in your model, and is distinct from it, and earlier?
I teach fiction writing at LSU as a leisure course (go Tigers!), and I use three films for study: Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, and Gladiator.
I just discovered that you’re going to be a presenter at the 2011 LDSstorymakers conference in Salt Lake City. I’m going to try and get there, but in case I don’t make it, do you have a schedule of other conferences you’ll be attending or workshops you’re teaching?
Can’t wait to read the new book!
hi! i’ve been looking for a contact area to no avail, so i’m posting this as a comment instead. i find your site incredibly helpful and i am so grateful to you for writing this blog i was wondering – would you ever consider putting in a search function? i would love to have a more accessible way of going through the archives. thanks!
To be honest, I don’t remember how I found you. I just did and thank goodness. I’ve written for 25 years for a living — news and features — but the whys and hows of novel writing have always escaped me. I am a good writer and have always been well received but, while I enjoy writing non-fiction, novels have always been my dream.
Right now, I’m within shouting distance of the end of “Story Structure — Demystified” and have already picked up “Story Engineering” on my Kindle. I CANNOT wait to read it.
I think you may have saved my sanity. I always knew there was a rational, understandable way to structure a novel but, until I found your book, I wasn’t sure I would ever learn what it was.
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Larry can you email me your new address- have ordered book and of course would love to have your special message on it Things are great and would like to catch up = Thanks Kathleen
I just reviewed Story Engineering. Thought you’d want to know. Check out my website for the review.
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. Would you still be willing to look at my 500-word concept for my novel? How much would you charge to look it over and see if it has all the necessary “parts”?
Just finished your book, Story Engineering. Great book. Thanks for pulling together information I’ve read in many different books, and putting together a concise mental model for writing a novel. I like the balance between structure and creativity, and the way you layer the character arc on the four units of the story. It really resonated. I finally feel I have something to grab hold of when developing character arc.
One thing I might suggest for any next editions, which I have always felt when done well makes a story sizzle, is subtext in dialogue. Although not a core competency, I think you have places where it might fit in your book, and i would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Thanks again for your contribution to the craft.
Good Afternoon Larry,
I read your book and gazed, at the website and landed upon your invite to fix broken stories. I have two short stories I’d like to have anaylzed by your eyes. The total word count for both is around 26,000 words. I’d love to hear the truth.
I’m wearing heatproof gloves. I can handle the truth.
Please send me your new discount rate as referred to on your website.
Thank You so much in advance,
Larry, please send me your mailing address so I can send my $25 to you
I just finished Story Engineering. For the first time. I started writing when I was still in high school, but never anything “good”. Can’t tell you how many books and articles about writing I’ve read in my life. Hundreds? At least. I will be rereading this one. I have been stewing over a book idea for months. As I read your book I found myself saying “AHA” over and over. I obviously haven’t had a chance to test the ideas. I will be doing that starting now. Even if I don’t get published any time soon you have given me tools to improve my writing. Thanks for the great read and encouragement.
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