book review · writing

Larry Brooks Show Us How to Engineer a Story Using the 6 Core Competencies

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*Book received for my unbiased review from Book Sneeze

Upon receiving Story Engineering"" in my hands, I quickly skimmed the front and back cover and thought to myself: “Oh no. Not another book rehashing and microwaving old concepts to help me become a better writer.”

 But I was wrong…very wrong.

 Larry Brooks explains to us that creating a work of fiction involves more than just art and raw talent. It is a skill. Like architecture. Just as there is a blueprint for construction of a building, you need to have these 6 Core Competencies under your belt, whether you outline a story first, or not(more on that later).

 Knowing the 6 core competencies may actually help you get published, and if not, you still have more leverage than a writer who fails to implement all 6.

 The 6 core Competencies:

1. Concept

2. Character

3. Theme

4. Story Structure

5. Scene Execution

6. Writing Voice

Okay so in his book there were a couple of highlights I highly regarded. for instance: Should a writer just “pants it” or outline a story before writing the draft? “To write a successful story, you can’t wing it and expect to get to the Promised Land”(Brooks, 2011, p.225). Either way you write you need to have some basic principles of story structure in your mind. So organic writing is good but you will have to write more drafts than if you planned out your writing first.

Secondly, Brooks talks about Writing Voice. I so loved this chapter because I am tired of Self Righteous Writing dronies crying out: “Stephenie Meyers can’t write! Her style is whack or Dan Brown can’t write and James Patterson is not using good terms” or whatever. Brooks however tells us that those people are good storytellers. Leave the grammar, syntax and other stuff to editors, because if you can write good words but there is no story, you will NOT be published anyway.

Having said all of this, the downside to The 6 Core Competencies is that I wish it were more organized in the beginning. Just give me a good beat sheet and do not run all over the place with Plot Points and Milestone, Brooks! Love the book, but wanted a bit more simplicity. I felt like I was getting a Masters in Writing(which I guess isn’t so bad).

Book Details:

Publisher: Writer’s Digest(2011)

ISBN: 978-1-58297-998-4

Price: $17.99

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