Monday, June 9, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: THE STORY TEMPLATE by Amy Deardon

The subtitle of the book says a lot: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story.

By analyzing the structure of movies and books, Deardon creates the template for a solid book that works. She takes readers step by step through the entire process of creating characters, locations, situations, relationships, plot points ... essentially, assembling the "pieces parts" for a solid foundation and then solid walls and the finishing touches for your book. Each step of the process, she provides exercises to go through. By the end of the book, you're ready to write.

I have to confess, reading through the exercises made me realize I'm a lot more of a "pantser" as a writer than I thought! I discover a lot about my characters, their situations, their problems and goals and secret pains during the process of writing -- first draft, second draft, third draft. But this book is still useful for pantsers, even if the mere thought of doing all the prep work gives them hives -- because the clear, step-by-step explanations and discussions will be helpful in figuring out why their characters aren't cooperating, why the road the story is on just turned into a dead end, and why the ending isn't quite satisfying.

Note: I had the privilege of meeting Deardon at this year's Realm Makers conference, and she said to pass on that it is NOT necessary or required to stick strictly to the book. Use what works for YOU, and feel free to ignore the rest (or save it for future exercises and experiments).

One of these days, when my schedule is a little clearer and I don't have a rough drafted book to revise, I might just take a story idea and try to go through each exercise to put my book together. I might just find I like the process. On the other hand, I might need an industrial strength dose of Benadryl for my hives ... But either way, the learning process will be beneficial and may just give me some new skills or "muscles" as a writer.

READ it, even if you're the ultimate pantser. If you're a plotter, you're going to love it.

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