My intention is to take the lessons learned in both of these books and discuss them on this here blog. No, I’m not hoping to compete with Larry. What I am doing–and what I recommend other new writers do–is learning by teaching. I find that the best way to digest information is to translate it into my own voice and lay it out for others. I’ll begin that with the next blog post. For now, I want to give a brief overview of Larry’s methodology.
Story Physics – you already use it
First of all, what he’s written in Story Physics and Story Engineering isn’t something he dreamed up one day as a way to squeeze a few bucks out of aspiring writers. What he presents is a new, more regulated way of structuring the writing process. Some of you are cringing right now. Especially the pansters among you. But stay with me. What Larry points out in both of his books is that published pansters adhere to certain laws of story creation and novel writing. They just take a longer route to get there. Perhaps longer is unfair (though it applies to me), but it is fair to say that a panster will write and re-write until the mess they started with is whittled down to a polished manuscript. You can describe it as starting with a an oak tree and working it down with axe, saw, and lathe until a baseball bat appears. I personally refer to my mysteries as “over easy” even though they started out scrambled. That’s an accurate description for my current writing process. And almost as difficult.
The rules of good story are applied to pansters and planners alike. I’d recommend that anyone start with Story Engineering. If you still want to write by your seat, that’s fine, but the elements in the book will help you to identify weaknesses when you’re through. And when you pick up Story Physics, you’ll be able to identify the weaknesses at a micro-level.
A New Way to see old ideas
Like I said, nothing offered by Larry is earth-shattering and you’ve read much of it in other works. But he does a great job in laying out the principles, 6 in each book, and giving you the essential elements required in any work of fiction if it’s to see the light of Amazon. I find it helpful to read the books, take notes and fit the highlights onto one electronic sheet for a quick review before, during, and after the writing process. He keeps each of the 6 elements general, but with enough information to get you started. If you struggle in some areas, say character development, then you’ll want to find something to get you deeper into that element (Brandilyn Collins’ Getting Into Character is a good one).
So keep an open mind and join me on this journey to re-discover the writing process in a new light. For me, a panster at heart, it was especially enlightening. And since I’m now a former panster with limited writing time, I appreciate the time saved by a little careful planning at the outset. Since I’m an engineer by trade, all this made perfect sense. No longer will I attempt to build my bridge without a blueprint!
How about you? Does the idea of planning or outlining make you cringe? Or do you appreciate a little structure to keep you on track?