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Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling Paperback – June 18, 2013
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
About the Author
Larry Brooks is a critically acclaimed best-selling author of six psychological thrillers (including Darkness Bound, Pressure Points, Serpents Dance and others), in addition to his work as a freelance writer and writing instructor. He is the creator and editor of Storyfix.com, one of the leading instructional writing sites on the internet.
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These books have shown a deepening of the secrets Brooks shares. "De-Mystified" concerned plot almost exclusively, "Engineering" brought in what he terms the "Six Core Concepts" of successful execution of fiction, and now with "Physics" he shows us how it all works together.
Brooks is not afraid to tell you that your first idea may suck. Even if it doesn't, if it really is as golden as you'd like to think it is, he asks you to refrain from rushing into dialog and exposition with it; take it away and chew on it for a while. That will yield greater detail and nuance, making it easier to write.
Yes, easier. That idea alone is worth the price of this book, but "Physics" is no one-trick pony. There are many more ideas, equally useful, contained in it. Probably #2 in terms of Writer Liberation is the notion that whatever your process, it's okay. That's your process. Revel in it, and make it work for you.
Sample the first pages. If it's going to work for you, you'll know it there. I got my first bit of "juice" out of the Introduction, and used it to finally address a long-standing issue in my plotting. Huzzah! The story finally works. Thank you, Larry Brooks.
I was a bit wary that this would be simply a repackaging of his first book, a renewed paycheck. But I feel rewarded for my purchase- I absolutely received my money's worth.
It's true this book covers some of the same ground as his first one- but this edition goes more in-depth on the subjects, and employs an array of analogies and thoughtful comparisons. Is it repetitive? Well, yes- but not necessarily in a bad way. Mr. Brooks will examine several facets of the same subject to ensure clarity. Even if I got the idea with one or two analogies, his additional thoughts held enough variety to keep my interest.
Peeves for some in this book might include the author's tone, voice, and informal delivery. But he warns readers right on page one that this is his personal style- and I found that, knowing this in advance, it was much easier to roll with it.
Another peeve might be the mild repetition- but it does serve to clarify his meaning, and in case some readers are having trouble grasping a concept, this could actually be an asset.
My real annoyance is that he is constantly in a defensive mindset regarding the need to actually think about and plan a good story's plot. He mentions in here that 'pantsers' have lambasted him with vitriolic opposition to this common sense. Damn those morons, because now the rest of us have to wade through his justifications, which weigh down an otherwise brilliant volume.
Mr. Brooks, I implore you. Your books are quite helpful. There are plenty of us out here who actually welcome hearing your insight. Please write for *us*. You cannot reason away the stupidity of other humans, especially those that deliberately avoid seeing the light which threatens their literary pretensions. Let them go. Less competition for those of us with a mind to improve our craft.
But peeves aside, this was a great addition to my writing library. I feel like the knowledge I gained truly compounded and built upon the groundwork he laid in his previous edition.
If you liked his first book, this is a worthy follow-up and I would recommend it.
Often he jumps into critiqueing something like "theme" without ever introducing his definition of theme yet he complains few authors correctly use words like theme when speaking to groups. And I would agree with many other reviewers that he repeats lots of stuff and complains too much about writers who disagree with his structured method.
Update after Larry's reply: Thanks Larry, for your hard work by the way. Yes, theme is defined later in the book. I'm still struggling to differentiate setting, subtext, context, and theme. It seems which word applies depends on a point of view. I will return and reread your important books but for now I'm moving on to "The Story Grid" which readers say makes the "light come on" for them after reading your books. Metaphors and models are usually extremely helpful when I learn so that is what I'm hoping for in The Story Grid.