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Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules Paperback – May 27, 2014
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About the Author
- Publisher : Writer's Digest Books (May 27, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1599636514
- ISBN-13 : 978-1599636511
- Item Weight : 15.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.48 x 0.73 x 8.38 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #125,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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For example (I’m paraphrasing):
OUTLINE RULE: You must create a detailed outline before you begin to write, otherwise you’ll end up wasting time and throwing away a lot of pages.
TRUTH: You’ll waste time writing the outline, and then waste more time rewriting the outline when your characters want to take the story in directions you couldn’t have anticipated.
THREE-ACT RULE: Your story must have three acts with specific plot points.
TRUTH: If you force your characters to stay within rigid boundaries, you may well end up with a cookie-cutter story that lacks momentum.
HOOK RULE: You must “hook” readers by blowing them away with your first sentence/paragraph/page or you will lose them.
TRUTH: You do need to “hook” readers early on—that much is true. However, if your first chapter explodes with over-the-top excitement, Chapter 2 may seem like a dud in comparison, and you’ll likely lose readers by Chapter 3. Instead, the tension must continually build from the first sentence to the climax.
THEME RULE: You must determine the theme of your story before you start writing. What’s it about? What’s the point you’re trying to make?
TRUTH: If your story can be boiled down to one or two sentences, why write the book?
Like a good novel, the value of this book cannot be condensed into a few paragraphs. I urge you to read every page and let it soak in, and then follow the author’s advice and create your story organically. Then you can analyze the structure if you like—after it’s written.
On another note, with the knowledge I’ve gained from reading this book, I will never read novels the same way again. You know that feeling you get when you finish a book and it was just meh, but you can’t put your finger on why it didn’t work for you? I’ll be able to better articulate why a book doesn’t work for me from now on. This book has ruined me as a reader, but it’s made me a better writer.
So much has been written about plotting, outlining, creating backstory, point of view (POV), grammatical good and bad, and on and on it goes. As its title suggests, this isn’t that book. Instead, Story Trumps Structure is a guide to really thinking through your story. How do you escalate tension? How do you create it in the first place? And, why do you need it? It guides you to think through your plot twists, overall and in each scene. There are many other valuable story considerations presented, such as cause-effect, story progression, and the value of organic writing, just to name a few.
The book also examines character development. This is the best, if not only, book I’ve read on character status, and the value varying status between characters. There are other character considerations, which I have observed in other resources, such as quirks, transformation, uniqueness, and attitude. But, even in these more common considerations, his approach is fresh and effective. I also really enjoyed his discussion of character intention.
I read this book, as I often do, between the first draft of my next novel and the rewrite process. I believe Steven’s insights will prove invaluable in taking my own writing to the next level. I only wish I had read this book before writing my first novel. Yes, I have much to learn about my craft, as I believe we all do.
This book will remain on my writing desk for years to come and I give it a “14 dog-eared pages” rating!