Authorpreneur's Journey

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Tag: story craft

How To Write a Book: #1 – What Is the Craft of Writing?

Hey Jake,

I was going through old emails from waaay back when (yep, I’m an unapologetic email hoarder). I was looking for story ideas we used to float by each other to see what we thought and how they might be developed into a story.

We had tons of ideas, but we never developed them into full-fledged, novel length stories. You know the main reason we didn’t? Whether we realized it or not, we didn’t know how to do it, nor what the craft of writing a story is really about.

With the help of my mentor, let’s call her Emily, I now understand that if you don’t have at least a rudimentary comprehension of story craft and structure, those story ideas will never get off the ground.

‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

~Theosophical Proverb~

With Emily’s help, I put my focus into to discovering what the craft of writing is truly is about. In addition to what I learned from her, Emily suggested I read a book written by James Scott Bell titled Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story. She said it would explain craft it in a way I’d understand.

The book is packed with concise, easy to understand information in just  118 pages. It’s a quick read even for a slow, dyslexic reader like me.

It breaks story structure down into comprehensive, bite-sized chapters. He provides examples for each chapter subject, using well-known novels and movies to demonstrate what he’s talking about. After reading each section you get that, “Okay, I see exactly what he means…” moment.

BTW: You can learn everything he teaches in the book, right on his blog https://killzoneblog.com/ . It’s free, but it takes some digging. For me it was worth the price of a Starbucks coffee to have it on hand at all times.

As I read this book, the light switches in my head flicked on, illuminating the knowledge that had been lurking in the darkness. Eventually I realized I’ve already read many great books about story structure, but for some reason they never made my synapses fire up like this one did.

Now that “I get it,” I’ve been going back to the following fantastic books about story structure to deepen my knowledge and make it part of the construct in my brain.

  • Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. This is a great book about story structure. It’s pretty involved, so read it in small bites. It’s pretty much a master class about writing a novel. I guess I should have started with a novice level book before diving into this one.
  • Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee. I know, you must be thinking, “A book about screenwriting?” Telling a great story is the key, and this book covers it like no other. It is touted as one of the most highly acknowledged books on story writing in the entire writer’s community. It is a big book, so take your time with it and really absorb what is being taught.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King. This one we both know well, and like a lot. The first half of the book you get a mini autobiographical account of what Steve King went through to become the legendary novelist he is today. Then, in the last half of the book, we’re treated to the insights of telling a great story. I never need an excuse to re-visit this book. I have it on audio and will start listening to it again on my commutes.

I know there’s a ton of good writing books out there, but these are among the best of them, and ones I refer to most often. Finally having a good grasp of what story craft really is, I know I’m going to get so much more out of these books now.

So what does the craft of writing fiction involve? The following list is by no means comprehensive:

  • Understanding the 3 act structure
  • Your writing voice
  • Finding Ideas
  • Choosing a genre
  • Choosing a POV – Point of View
  • Concept, Premise and Theme
  • Outlining – bringing structure to the story
  • Story Beats
  • Creating unforgettable characters
  • Knowing what the main character wants – what’s at stake
  • Dialogue – and how to make it real and stay on point
  • Inciting incident – engaging and hooking the reader from the first pages
  • Conflict, conflict and more conflict – the key to what makes the story
  • Plot Points, Pinch Points, and Milestones
  • Pacing
  • Setting and tone
  • Foreshadowing, story elements and supporting characters
  • The all-important Midpoint – or Mirror Moment
  • Building interest or suspense through the middle
  • The climax and transformation

As you can see there’s a lot to learn. With time we can master some these skills. Think about our current professions. The average person can’t come in off the street and do what we do. We’ve built our skills through years of experience. Being able to write great stories is no different.

I’m creating a story structure matrix in Excel (hey I’m an analyst, what did you expect?), to make the outlining process easier for me. Yes, I’m plotter/outliner now – I’ll cover that in another post.

Regards,

Werner

Hey Big W,

I recall how we used to come up with those ideas. Do you remember the satire we tried co-authoring, ‘The Corn Conspiracy’? I think I still have it in a file folder on some dusty old hard drive somewhere.

And whaddya mean you outline? Since when? What about all the talks we had about developing a story organically?

Jake

 

Welcome to the Authorpreneur’s Journey

 

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What’s an Authorpreneur, you say?

  • It’s a person who wants to live the writer’s life and make a living from their writing.
  • It’s someone who thinks of their writing as both an art and a business.
  • It’s a writer willing to do it all (at least in the beginning): write their books, self-publish them, promote them and build a successful author platform.

The Authorpreneur doesn’t want to surrender control of their efforts and books to gatekeeper agents, and an old-style publishers. They don’t see a need for the middle-man agent, nor traditional publishers with their unfair contracts, who do little to market their book, yet take a huge cut of any money made and leaves the author with crumbs.

The Authorpreneur is willing to do the work, invest in themselves, and reap the rewards. They are excited about building a platform to engage their readers, and build their writing empire, one book, and one reader at a time.

Welcome to the Authorpreneur’s Journey.

I am just like You.

You love stories, love reading and have always enjoyed writing. You wanted to become a writer for as long as you can remember, and not just a hobbyist scribbler. You want to make a full-time living as a writer.

You just never felt sure enough about what to do or how to do it. You want guidance. A place to go that clarifies the whole process of writing a book. You want to be motivated and seek the camaraderie of people just like yourself.

With the continued growth and popularity of ebooks, and the relative ease of self-publishing, there has never been a better time or opportunity to create your own writer’s life.

You no longer HAVE to deal with the gatekeepers of traditional publishing. There are far better options to available to you when it comes to your books, your rights and your success as an Authorpreneur.

Nobody has a more vested interest in your success than you do. It’s no longer necessary to have an agent or publisher to quantify you as an author. You’ll let readers decide if you’re an author worth their investment of time and money.

A successful journey begins with that first step.

Along the way there’ll be challenges and triumphs, unforeseen setbacks and jaw dropping surprises.  On your journey you’ll grow with each new experience, becoming stronger, and more resilient with greater determination.

The best part is, you will not be on this journey alone. There will be many people eager to help you up, to breathe the rarefied air of writing success. You will meet many people along the way. Some will be immeasurably helpful, and become lifelong friends.

To build a successful writing business, you’ll do it one step at a time. Each step building on the other. Everyone starts with that first step. Persistence and determination is the difference between the ones who succeed, and the ones who end up spending the rest of their lives just dreaming about becoming a writer.

Like you, I’ve waited long enough to become the writer I always wanted to be, and live the writing life I dreamed of. It’s time to start my Authorpreneur’s Journey, and make my writing business a priority.

Following the lessons and advice of my mentor, this blog is here to serve anyone who wants to embark on their own Authorpreneur’s Journey. You can model what I’m doing and the strategies I try. You can benefit by learning what works and avoid the pitfalls.

Success leaves clues and I’m going to learn from the best to build my writer’s business – and share it here.

We’ll be covering the following topics in an in-depth, ongoing basis to deepen our knowledge, and taking action to help us grow as writer’s:

  • Step 1: Writing a book or novel
    • Deciding what type of book and genre
    • Parts of Story
    • Story craft
    • Revision
    • Editing
  • Step 2: Building your Authorpreneur Business
    • Building your Author Platform
    • Building an email list
  • Step 3: Preparing your book
    • Formatting – for mobi, ebub and others
    • Ebook cover design
    • Self-Publishing
  • Step 4: Building your Authorpreneur Business Part II
    • Marketing and Promotion
    • Building your brand
    • Creating raving fans

I hope you subscribe and stick around to learn, watch and model the development of an Authorpreneur from the very beginning.

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