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Million Dollar Outlines (Million Dollar Writing Series) Kindle Edition
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If you are writing a series in a specific genre of fiction, this book might not bring anything new to the table, but the over all explanations are universal and helpful and I got a lot out of reading this.
I have just finished reading Story Engineering this morning for the third time this year, it's been immensely helpful. I highly recommend that work if you are looking for a nuts and bolts type of book to help with how to manufacture a story, how to outline, build, plan, etc.
This book helps with understanding what types of stories people enjoy, time and time again and universally. It's important not because we need another Star Wars or Titanic but because if you want to appeal to the biggest possible audience, it's helpful to have someone that's an expert in the industry explain what the components are that make this happen.
I heard about this book from listening to a podcast in which David was interviewed, the Creative Penn, which I also give a huge recommendation for, this author is the creator of that podcast: Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur, I've gained a lot of knowledge from listening to her show.
This book has some lists in it which I find very helpful, David lists out the top grossing movies of all time and explains what they have in common. Of course that doesn't mean you have to write a novel that is an epic thriller set on a distant world, what it does show is some commonality in the most popular stories that people love and read/watch over and over again.
That list and the commentary was, in itself, worth buying and reading the book.
One final note, the book has some exerts and commentary from a story meeting between Lucas, Spielberg and the screen writer who they choose to write Indiana Jones. This was gold for me. To see the act of brainstorming written out in a way that allowed me to see how I can do the same thing (with myself or with another artist) was another aha moment in which I felt the book would have been worth my time and effort just for that in itself.
Now, speaking of doing things myself...
David is a Mormon (he points this out in the book) and in one of the examples of giving a protagonist dark things to over come, he mentions that you could have a teenager that suffers with a masturbation problem.
Then he goes on to say that some teenagers never masturbate and would never even consider such a horrible thing, you know, but they could still identify with someone as a protagonist even if they had this nasty habit.
That was an odd example and I'm very curious about the world he grew up in that he could even imagine that teenagers exist that don't masturbate. Yeah, maybe some very damaged ones, but it seems they'd be the ones needing to overcome a dark problem, not the other way around.
Anyway, I bring this up because one of the interesting things about the book was the injection of some of his own personal backstory, his grandfather was a mobster and his father was very damaged because of it and he tells other dark things in his family, like a suicide, which help him explain how real life and story interact in our emotions and such.
His personal examples helped the book, so I liked that.
I definitely recommend it.
I have had three non-fiction books published by international publishers, (the books published under another author name) one of which was a runaway best seller. My agent told me I should turn to fiction, as my style of writing was very much story based and emotion driven - however, I couldn't figure out the fiction 'thing'! I was so bogged down with attempting 'literature', that every story languished half finished on my hard-drive.
Now, after reading 'Million Dollar Outlines' I have already written copious notes following the directions Farland gives, with the result that a very satisfying plot has emerged out of a thin idea I had already had. I can now see the way ahead. I have read so many books purporting to be helpful in terms of writing fiction, but none had been able to help me through my confusion about how to imagine scenes, how to decide on which characters you should include (or how to choose them) etc. This book in my opinion is priceless. I have now joined Farland's mailing list, and already have received another extremely helpful plotting tip.