Meet The Storyfixer

ABOUT THIS BLOG…

(Updated 12/18/11)

Thanks for dropping by.  Seriously, I do appreciate it.

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 process.

Now allow me to switch to third person so I can sound objective with a minimum of hubris.

Brooks is a critically-acclaimed bestselling author of four psychological thrillers, in addition to his work as a freelance writer and writing instructor.

His message to writers who wish to publish is this: the bar is very high, and the market is very crowded.  The moment you declare an intention to publish, to write professionally, you are signing up for a tidy and largely inflexible list of 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 is largely out of your hands, to be honest) — it’s your manuscript. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be better than perfect, at least 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…

larrybrooks

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 Internaional 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 some 120 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.

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 Overlooked Books of 2004 (the only paperback so named; perhaps, says Larry, a dubious honor) and Best Books of 2004 (lead entry, mass market).

Since then he has written two novels : SCHMITT HAPPENS (the sequel to 2004’s BAIT AND SWITCH, which remains unpublished at this writing) and WHISPER OF THE SEVENTH THUNDER, an apocalyptic thriller from Sons of Liberty Publishing (March 2010).

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 new 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 17 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 21 and a senior at USC; three supportive step-children, Tracy, Scott and Kelly (two of whom have read all his books); and seven step-grandchildren who have no clue what “Poppy” does for a living.

Larry and Laura live in Scottsdale AZ, where he is busy writing is a** off on a new writing book (“The Search for Story”), two novels, a screenplay, a pile of freelance assignments (“call me” he whispers again), and of course, this blog.

Again, thanks for stopping by.

{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

Randall Platt July 3, 2009 at 4:39 am

Larry;

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.

Best,

Randall

P.S. Was it Scott and Inga?

Larry July 3, 2009 at 5:21 pm

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 –

Larry

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.

Elizabeth Moritz July 10, 2009 at 12:49 pm

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

Gary Cerotsky July 14, 2009 at 2:01 am

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.

541-545-1220

Hope to hear from you.

Gary

Bernice Johnston July 30, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Larry,

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.

Bernice

Stephen Maitland-Lewis August 12, 2009 at 11:43 am

Dear Larry:
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,
Stephen (smaitlandlewis@aol.com)

Randall Platt August 14, 2009 at 6:17 am

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!
Randi

Patricia Smith August 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

Hello Larry,

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!

Patricia

Ben Lang October 26, 2009 at 6:47 pm

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.
Thanks,
Ben

Jan Romes November 25, 2009 at 10:50 am

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!

Warm regards,

Jan Romes – Ohio

Tanya Bimson December 7, 2009 at 3:37 pm

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.

Bill Morgan January 5, 2010 at 10:04 am

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.

Bill Morgan
The Job Swami Career Advice Site

DrB January 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

Do you have some advice on turning our site into a book? We have an outline and two sample chapters.

Larry January 12, 2010 at 8:26 am

@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!

http://www.copyblogger.com/blog-to-book-deal/

Rick Weiss February 13, 2010 at 9:07 am

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.

rmw

Larry February 23, 2010 at 9:56 pm

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.

mark April 14, 2010 at 8:10 am

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.

Regards

Mark

mark April 14, 2010 at 9:39 am

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.
Regards

Mark

Alison Wiley August 10, 2010 at 8:21 am

Larry,
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.
best,
Alison

Druzelle Cederquist August 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

Hello Larry,
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 -
Druzelle

Druzelle Cederquist August 12, 2010 at 10:43 am

fyi – Actually I found your link on The Writer’s fb page.

Lelani August 17, 2010 at 7:51 am

Hi Larry,
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?

melony September 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm
Sandra McDow October 4, 2010 at 10:36 am

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?
Simple.

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,
Sandra McDow

Chris December 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Hey Larry,

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!

Joe Mello December 20, 2010 at 3:07 pm

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?

Thanks,
Joe

Larry December 20, 2010 at 6:10 pm

@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.

Jan Bear December 29, 2010 at 2:05 am

Congratulations on the Top 10 Blogs for Writers Award. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving writer.

Wes & Nadine December 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

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

Chuck Hustmyre January 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

Larry,

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)?

Thanks,
Chuck Hustmyre
“A Killer Like Me”
“House of the Rising Sun”

Larry January 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

@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

Chuck Hustmyre January 21, 2011 at 9:55 am

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.

Thanks again.

Jocelyn Lindsay January 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Larry,

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!

a'ishah February 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

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!

Bridgette L. Rallo February 22, 2011 at 9:43 am

Hi Larry,
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.

Kathleen Gaylord April 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

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

Chuck Heintzelman April 14, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Larry,

I just reviewed Story Engineering. Thought you’d want to know. Check out my website for the review.

— Chuck

John Draper April 25, 2011 at 11:58 am

Larry,
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”?

– john

David May 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Larry,

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.

Alan Wood May 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

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,

Alan Wood

John Draper May 20, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Larry, please send me your mailing address so I can send my $25 to you
Thanks

Richard Brockelsby May 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Larry,

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.

Ian Porter May 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Hi Larry. After 60-odd years of daily thoughts on writing fiction (beginning about age 10, I seem to recall) I finally had the good sense, (and luck), to stumble across your website.

After two head-spinning weeks, I’ve finally finished ‘Story Engineering’. The first word that came to mind was, Wow”.
The second was, “ThankyouThankyouThankyou”.

Closely thereafter came Hope, Optimism, Relief and Incentive.

Hope – For the first time I know that I need a plan.
Optimism – You’ve shown me how to plan.
Relief – If I follow the plan I’ll have a coherent story.
Incentive – My goal is now clear and achievable. Yaay!

Your book has already answered most of my questions, but, as I begin to lay out my story’s structure, there’s one thing I puzzle over – How long should it be? I’ve spent a day or so studying online opinions, but opiners are numerous. The best consensus seemed to 80,000 to 100,000 words for a first novel. However, this figure apparently depends on the TYPE of story, ie, whether it’s a mystery, thriller, adventure or SF. Mine’s kind of a mixture of the last two, as well as being a first novel.

I’m interested to know what you recommend.

Sorry if you covered this in the book – I did read it in a kinda rush :-)

Thanks again for the best advice I’ve ever had.

Ian
New Zealand.

mindy sitton-halleck June 20, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Hi Larry, love your blog! Thanks for sharing so much helpful information. I posted an excerpt on my blog at MindyHalleck.blogspot, hope you don’t mind. Mindy

Jett June 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

Hi Larry,

I’m Jett. I really like your site, and you’re linked to a lot on other writing/book blogs. I work for Harper Collins and more specifically InkPop.com. The site just re-launched a week ago and we’re really excited about the new look and new features. HPC editors are still reviewing submitted works in our kick-ass contests, but what’s new is the fresh badge system we have to promote individual profiles.

It’s definitely still a YA/Teen writing site, but we like to think our audience is pretty diverse, and most of all, passionate. I’m writing to you to see if you’d perhaps consider writing a blurb/mention about the new digs? We care about young writers continuing to write their best work, and HPC is devoted to producing the kind of books its readers want to read most. The editors of the site are super responsive and take all complaints/concerns into consideration. Considering the hodgepodge pack of writing communities available today, InkPop is a much-needed refresher.

Thanks so much for hearing me out. Take care.

:)

Davidh Digman July 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Dear Larry,

I’m in the middle of writing a new blog entry and I’d like to be able to refer to your blog and post a link. Do you have any problem with that?

My Writerly Wramblings blog can be found at http://ddigman.wordpress.com

Thanks!

Steve August 26, 2011 at 12:52 am

Larry,

I just finished Bait and Switch. I have been following you for over a year–and learned much in the process. I had struggled with your concept of midpoint shift. In Bait and Switch it hit me like a sledge hammer to the forehead. Wow, got it! I know you had promised to deconstruct Bait and Switch on your site. Hope you do soon. Keep going man, you are changing writer’s lives.

John DeLeon August 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Larry, I just read your Problogger post And The Typos Just Keep On Comin’. You might be interested in Typoze.com, a place where readers report typos in books.

Bill October 1, 2011 at 2:13 am

Larry, Good seeing you again in Wenatchee! As usual, loved your comments, enjoyed our conversations. Hope Medford was a blast! Offer still stands about that Mexican food! Bill -30-

Leonardo Wild October 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

Hi Larry, I just finished reading your Story Engineering and found it one of the most comprehensive books on writing out there.

When you mention (p. 186) that a Plot Point can be spread out in a “sequence of scenes” I wondered: “How can it be a plot POINT?” You describe a series of events and then I realized, from my own research, that what is going on in those cases is that you are dealing with the Plot Points of _various_ arcs. Usually (and as a screenwriter), I learned about the Dramatic Arc (Syd Field et al). But now, when I structure, I have started to use an Emotional Arc as well as a Thematic Arc as well. If they all occur in the same Plot Point, you get a “bigger event” than if you spread them out, separating them over a sequence of scenes.

Ditto for your mentioning Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code (p. 195) MidPoint. It is not that the traditional paradigm is being broken if you seem to have more than one MidPoint, not at all. Rather, what happens is that you are dealing with Dramatic, Emotional or Thematic Plot Points occurring separately. This isn’t better or worse, but actually a matter of choice and purpose, aka function (or just because the writer wasn’t conscious of it).

I am structuring a novel where I have my Dramatic, Emotional and Thematic Climaxes happen on different “moments” in the story, while I plan to have each arc’s Plot Points and MidPoint occur simultaneously for greater effect and “turning point value.”

Anyway, had I not read your book I wouldn’t have become conscious of this. So thank you very much!

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