Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competenciew of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks

An endorsement from Chelsea Cain on the back cover of this book says, “This book will make you smarter about the craft. Period.” I totally agree with that opinion. This is a book that covers ground I not seen in other books about how to write the novel you know you can. Maybe the other books I’d read had this information, but he explains it in a way I can understand more clearly. I discovered why one of my forays into such an endeavor was minimally successful and the other attempts much less so. There is much to commend this book to the DIY group of novelists out there.

His repeated, and I mean repeated insistence, that all the core competencies must work together is so important I cannot omit it. Seems reasonable, but in the pages that surround all that insisting I found that even some of the foundational ones were weak or missing in my attempts. How about yours? Please read this book. Go the extra mile or so up front and see if he’s telling you the truth. He does cover “pantsing” too, but believes that all the rewrites essentially are doing what he recommends as the upfront work.

The biggest nit I have to pick with this book is that the reader will need a machete to chop through some of his introductory work. I found myself asking when he was going to get to the point, especially in the first chapter or so. Maybe he subscribes to the “tell them, tell them again and then tell them one more time” school. I don’t know, but I did find the repetition that preceded the point frustrating. But, persist because the teaching points and illustrations he uses are worth the slog through his jungle.

I’d recommend this book to nearly anyone who is an aspiring novelist and maybe even playwright since some of the principles or core competencies come from that literary form. Read it and see.

This book was provided to me for review by BookSneeze in exchange for this review.

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