Interesting banter happening on Amazon regarding my new book.
Can’t complain about the reviews, except one (a few readers are complaining for me on that one). Even one of the 4-star reviewers was put off by my — clearing throat here — enthusiasm and the need to set-up the context and application of the story development strategy I advocate. Fair enough. Not the first time I’ve been told to get on with it.
One particular review offers a headline that any writer would kill to see.
And he mentions that writers like Elmore Leonard do just fine, thank you, beginning the story development process with an idea or a character in their head and then just taking off with it. They sit down and begin writing.
In other words, pantsing.
That can work. Maybe it can even work for you. I hope it does, if that’s your thing. But look before you leap. Because the bottom of that barrel is littered with the remains of writers who did so with their eyes closed.
I’ve posted a comment in response to that review, and on this subject, that clarifies why you need to select your story development process carefully. Or at least in context to being fully informed.
Here it is.
I love that you mention Leonard and Wodehouse and their opposing processes. Opens an important door of awareness that helps clarify my position on story development. Three words: he’s Elmore Leonard. The entire landscape of story architecture is embedded in his head. It’s instinct. This is true of pretty much every so called “pantser” who emerges as a brand name author… they get it. The end product is in full alignment with story engineering principles and physics, they just observe the priniciples and create a a blueprint coincident with the actual creation of their narrative. It’s like filling in blanks for these writers.
Newer writers? Not a good strategy. It’s like someone who is given an address in, say, Los Angeles, with an important payload, and is told to drive there in less than a day. If they know the landscape, if they’ve driven it before, if they’re professional-level street navigators, then sure, they don’t need a map. They don’t need a backseat driver. In fact, they can get lost in the music and scenery as they drive, because wrong turns are unlikely. But the person who has never been in L.A. before? Who has no sense of direction? Even if they’re a fantastic “driver”? That’s gonna take a while. And dead ends and even dark alleys are inevitable.
Newer writers who think they can do what Elmore Leonard and Stephen King do, at their level, are in for some harsh realities. My book is simply an effort to show them a way to get to that level faster, and without getting mugged.