Currently, I am reading a book called “Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing” by Larry Brooks. This book is amazing in how it puts together the elements of writing a story. So far, I have learned that every story that sells is made up of these 6 Core Competencies, which are: Concept, Character, Theme, Story Structure, Scene Execution, and Writing Voice. His use of analogies throughout the book make it very easy to understand why these Core Competencies are important, not only for writing fiction, but for telling a great story.
So far, I have learned the differences between Concept and Theme and how to develop Character as a three-dimensional entity, using the character arc to tie all of these elements together. I don’t want to give away too much, but I have found that my intended writing style — Larry calls this writing method “seat-of-your-pants” and anyone that writes this way as a “pantser” — may need to be modified somewhat to have some sort of structure, otherwise I will be in for writing draft after draft.
I highly recommend that if you want to write a novel, or even if you simply want to be a better storyteller, that you read Larry Brooks’ book. You can buy it by clicking here.
On a different note, one of my current challenges in writing a novel is finding the time. I just got back from a two and a half week vacation with very limited access to a computer (no, I don’t have a laptop yet, but I may be asking for one for Christmas), and the demands of getting back to my full-time employment have left me with very little time for myself. While I don’t resent these demands on my time, I have to realize that writing fiction has developed into a hobby that is somehow inserting itself into the cracks of my otherwise busy life. I have always believed in having a balance in all things, and I have a wonderful wife who picks up a lot of the slack when I am not around, but I realize that if I truly want to write this first novel, I am going to have to make some sacrifices on some of the time wasters that I currently enjoy. TV, for one, is something that I could do less of, but I have already started to do that over the last few years. I already record most of the shows that I like watching since I work in the evenings, but I may have to do some more cutting. Also, it is college football season, and I love BYU football.
So, for me, writing a good story involves learning about the elements of a good story, discovering the structure in how it should evolve, and applying some discipline in getting it done. Feel free to leave any comments below if you have any good ideas in how I might better accomplish these goals!