Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Learning to write fiction – that is, good, quality fiction that an editor will embrace – is a little like Theseus seeking the Minotaur in the labyrinth. The prize is there, but where?

In his book, Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing, Larry Brooks gives the writer tools that will assist in crafting a story. Teaching the reader about Concept, Character, Theme, Story Structure, Scene Execution and Writing Voice, Mr. Brooks maintains that by learning and implementing all six of the core competencies the writer will be able to craft a complete story – one that covers all the bases.

The problem with most stories, Brooks states, is that “they still fall short of expressing the essence of a great story.” Without the blending of the core competencies together the writer is left with a story that is flat. It can have great characters, or a stellar theme, but it fails to carry them through in a way that will bring the reader a “literary feast.”

As I read the book, I found myself being persuaded that perhaps Brooks has a map to the labyrinth of crafting stories. I tried a few of his techniques in the first draft of my work in progress, with the result of feeling more confident that my story captures that essence of storytelling that all writers seek. I plan to implement all six of the core competencies as I begin the rewrite of my story, balancing them as Brooks suggests.

Of course, Theseus found his prize with help from Daedalus and Ariadne, but he still had to slay the monster himself – and that’s the task that Brooks leaves to his readers. This book won’t write your story for you, but it will provide you with the tools you need to do the job.

A free copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review.