As I often do, this week I have been re-reading a great book on writing. I appear to have three books on the go at the moment, and what I found useful was reexamining Larry Brooks’s six core competencies in his great book called StoryEngineering. In light of this week’s conceptualisation of a brand new novel, working title: The Theory of Dots or maybe just Dotty it’s made me look at my own process.
One of the parts of my job I love the most is being able to tease apart the many elements of plot and look at what a story does and how it works and it’s amazing how many flaws and issues we find. Sometimes we just sense these things but my job is to be able to really show a writer what it is that’s not working and why, and actually it does come down to one or more of the six core competencies.
Concept (not the same as idea or premise): but the what if question that beats at the heart of the novel. It evolves from the idea or seed. What if a young girl disappears at the exact moment Kennedy is assassinated, from the grassy knoll but no one sees. And what if she is still missing 50 years on? Is it because of something she sees? See how it forms a chain of questions that follow the key one.
Character: The story happens to Eleanor Boone, and a reporter learns of it 50 years later. A retired police psychic senses the reporter will need her help to find out what happened to Eleanor Boone. These are the characters who are integral to plot and are fundamental to story. We have to care and we have to root for them to take their journey with them.
Theme: what your story is illuminating about real life (not the same as concept), so maybe it’s what can happen when you turn your back for a moment…
Structure: this is what comes first, what happens next, what happens after that etc. Simple right? So The Reporter’s story, The Psychic’s Story, back to the Reporter…
Scene Execution: you can know the game but you can’t play it well if you can’t win claims Larry Brooks. This is how you bring the threads together in the best way to tell this story.
Writing Voice: this is how you connect to your reader, how the story is delivered. I have two narrators in my novel with distinct voices.
Make sure all of these are strong as these are the foundations of all stories. So see how I have applied these to my novel While No One Was Watching. How do they apply to yours?
I have looked at the Dotty novel by applying these and only when each is strong enough in my mind will I start to write it. It’s exciting!
Have a great day everyone!