The Power of Storytelling

As I mentioned in an earlier post I am reading The Seventh Thunder by Larry Brooks. I don’t normally discuss the books I read because I’ve geared this blog more toward crime related topics and not book reviews. This book, however, grabbed me by the throat and hasn’t let go. Even when I’m not reading, I’m thinking about it. Over the last few days I’ve tried to work, but this book keeps calling me back again and again, demanding that I jump back into the story.

As a reader and a writer I am no longer content with crime thrillers with a subtle or non-existent theme. I want books that go beyond genre, that make me question, think, imagine. The Seventh Thunder does all that and more.

The 7th Thunder

Here’s the blurb:

When Gabriel Stone’s devout wife dies in an unlikely airline disaster, he pours himself into the writing of a story that has haunted him since his youth, a story his wife had warned him never to finish. Inspired by a life-changing visit to the island of Patmos years earlier, he is fascinated with the visions beheld there by St. John The Divine while in political exile as penance for his devotion to Christ. Those visions included frightening sights delivered by what John described as the “seven thunders,” visions he was instructed to withhold from us, to seal up and write them not (Revelation 10:4).

As Stone becomes entrenched in his writing, the Book of Revelation begins to reveal startling connections to covert operations that are about to tear the world’s political landscape to shreds. When the book nears publication, Stone suddenly finds himself the pawn in a war between superpowers and supernatural forces, each with hidden agendas beyond his comprehension and stakes that pivot on his ability to accept the unbelievable and stop the unthinkable. Juxtaposing choices that are at once spiritual and life-dependent, The Seventh Thunder stops at nothing short of our very souls hanging in the balance.

Sounds amazing, right?

Are you ready for some incredible news? Larry Brooks is coming here! That’s right. I’ll be interviewing Larry about his craft books, Story Engineering and Story Physics- Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling

Story Engineering

We’ll discuss what the Six Core Competencies are and how they can transform your writing. No longer will you need to worry about why a story went wrong, or why every agent/editor you sent it to rejected it. With the Six Core Competencies Larry teaches us how to dissect those stories, see them as a whole and discover where they went wrong. These two books surpassed any and all expectations I had. They super charged my writing to the next level.

After reading Story Engineering and Story Physics I was forever changed as a writer, and I think that’s why I’m loving The Seventh Thunder so much. I can see its power, feel its theme. It’s as if I’ve been let in on a well-kept secret that best-sellers keep close to the vest, or been handed the keys to an exclusive club. I want to shout my heart out about how happy this makes me. I can achieve my dreams because I have the know-how to turn them into a reality.

In a past post I said I’d been converted from pantser to planner by using Joel Canfield’s method of outlining. Who, by the way, is a big proponent of Larry Brooks’ work. Now, I’ve evolved even more. We all should strive to learn more about storytelling, reach beyond what’s easy, hone our craft, dig deeper into why it works. Gone are the days of minimal planning, winging it and hoping for the best. I know exactly where my story will take me, how to get there and how it will end. No more staring at a blank computer screen wondering what to write next. By implementing the techniques in Story Engineering and Story Physics I know how one scene transitions smoothly into the next, and the next, and the next, each mission-driven and executed properly.

I can’t tell you how good this feels! What an incredible feeling it is to rip apart my stories and see where I veered off course, or how to make them stronger, better. I cannot simply tell you this. You must find out for yourself.

It’s an exciting time as a writer because we have easy access to so much information. But sometimes that isn’t a good thing, sometimes it can steer us wrong. Not the case here. This is craft at its finest.

Many writers rage against structure. They’ll tell you rules were made to be broken. I don’t believe that. A building can’t stand without a foundation and walls. Why would we think our stories could survive without structure? And structure placed at key moments. Just like a tent that sags in the middle because a pole is out-of-place, so will the story if we don’t hit the right milestones at the right time. It’s architecture and physics and they’re invaluable tools for a storyteller. Having structure won’t stifle creativity. It enhances it.

Anyone who’s ever taken a creative writing course learned basic structure. That’s not what I’m talking about today. I’m referring to deeper structural elements, like the Six Core Competencies and the Six Essence of Storytelling. Structure being one of the core competencies.

Successful authors like Stephen King who publicly declare he’s a panster inherently knows the fundamentals of storytelling. Instinctively he’s structuring his novels. He’s just doing it without forethought or planning. But how many of us are Stephen King?

I’m not saying he’s the only best-selling author who writes from the seat-of-his-pants. But the others also have a firm grasp of the Six Core Competencies and Six Essence of Storytelling. For the rest of us it’s better to plan. Notice I’m not using the word “outline”. You don’t need to outline to plan your novel. James Patterson writes a 50 page outline before he ever writes one word. I am not suggesting that. Are you kidding? That would drive me nuts. Plan your Acts. Whether you use a three Act structure or four is up to you. Personally, I prefer a four Act structure because that’s what Larry advocates and that’s what I find works for me. I’m not suggesting my way is the right way, or the only way. Whatever works for you.

Once you read Story Engineering and Story Physics it becomes almost impossible not to see structure in everything you read. The milestones pop out like a neon signs. Even in television series and movies it’s easy to find the milestones because they occur at the same point in every film/episode. I’m constantly pressing pause, shouting, “Inciting Incident! First Pinch Point! All is lost moment!” I’m driving my husband insane. Course that’s nothing new. Neither is the knowledge of basic structure, but seeing it everywhere is.

Story Physics

Plotter or planner any and all successful novelist will have the same structure. It’s only a matter of how many drafts the author wants to write before getting there. Because if you want to publish traditionally or do well with self-publishing your stories will need structure. Them’s the facts, Jack. So why not save yourself a ton of time and plan it out?

Story Physics digs deeper into the Six Essence of storytelling. Which is different from the Six Core Competencies. We’ll get into that during the interview. For now, I recommend buying both books, because together they are absolutely mind-blowing. From the novice writer to the professional novelist Story Engineering and Story Physics have something for everyone.

A former minor league pitcher turned professional writer Larry Brooks is one of the best authors/teachers/writing coaches in the industry. His passion shines through everything he does. And his voice– amazing! Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about an author in a long, long time, and it’s because of the magic within the pages of his books, both craft and crime thrillers.

So please join us for an incredible interview where Larry will discuss what the Six Core Competencies are and why they matter. And if you’re looking for a new book, one that forces you to turn the page, makes you question, think and feel deep in your soul, I highly recommend The Seventh Thunder. Clicking the title will take you to the Amazon page.

For your convenience I’ve added Larry’s blog, Storyfix, to the sidebar and to the Crime Writer’s Resource page, along with other incredible finds. If you’ve used the Crime Writer’s Resource page and referred back to it from time to time I think you’ll be pleased with the new additions. Also, you’ll notice I’ve added new menu options: Appearances shows where I’ve guest posted or been interviewed, along with future appearances. I don’t often reblog my guest appearances so now you can see what else I’ve done, if interested. My Guests shows who’s appeared on this blog. I’ve had some incredible guests, so if you’re looking for a specific post by one of them they are all conveniently located in one place now. Lastly, Blog Awards are no longer on the sidebar. I’ve placed them on one-page with links to the posts and to the bloggers who nominated me.

Do you plan your books in advance? Or do you write from the seat-of-your-pants?

Does delving deeper into the craft of storytelling excite you as much as me, or is my inner geek showing?

 

27 Comments

  1. Pingback: Interview with Bestselling Author, Larry Brooks! | Crime Fiction Writer Sue Coletta

  2. I’ve read books that took me by the throat. Now that’s all I enjoy reading. :-/

    Anna from Elements of Writing

  3. I’m currently working on my second novel and, having learnt my lessons with the first one, I started out with a detailed plan for this one. It’s definitely made the process a lot easier. With the first one I didn’t have a detailed plan to start with, just a brief outline, and I ended up developing the plot at a later stage and doing substantial rewrites. It worked out in the end but I would have saved myself a lot of time if I had put a plan in place from the start. I look forward to your interview. It should be interesting. 🙂

  4. I don’t know about Larry, but your enthusiasm sure does shine through! 😀 I’ll be sure to check them out. And yes, the 7th thunder sounds great. Plus, Patmos is right next door to Athens, so… 🙂

  5. You’re absolutely right, Sue. I’ve met so many authors that think planning means constrictions. So many authors that think ‘rules are made to be broken’ and only then you are a true writer.

    I didn’t read the books you’re talking about, but I read many books about textual analysis. I find them so much more interesting than books about creative writing, if I may say. Where books about creative writings teach you how to build a story, books about textual analysis teach you how to dissect a story, because this is what critics are supposed to do.
    Learning to dissect a story taught me so many things. It taught me to look for elements, the connection betwene them, it taught me the name of the different parts of a story (and as we all know, names are power – I had never truly understood this before). Seeing my story as a critic helped me to understand it better as a writer, as funny as it might sound.

    I really can’t wait to read the interview 🙂

    • Doesn’t sound funny at all, Sarah! I agree 100%. And you’re so right about applying names to story elements. It does make them powerful, and easier to understand. As a fellow craft geek you’d love these books. 😉 You know what else you’d love is Larry’s blog Storyfix.com and the other “craft” blogs I’ve listed on the sidebar. See you there!

  6. Hi Sue! Great post as usual and really good reasons to read Larry Brook’s work.

    I have Story Engineering as ‘to-read’ ebook, but I’m terribly old fashioned when it comes to reading resource books digitally. I prefer paper which I can mark up and easily flip back & forth. That’s the drawback to Kindle.

    Interesting perspective on plotsters & pantsters. My first novel was ridiculously plotted out but this one I’m half through writing is pretty much by the seat of my pants. That’s probably because I know the story throughout and I’m just letting it naturally unfold.

    Looking forward to your interview with Larry!

    • Many write the first draft by the seat of their pants, and then structure on the 2nd. Everyone has their own process. It’s whatever works best for you. I just find it’s easier to create with a plan in place. But it wasn’t always that way. And you’re so right about eBook craft books. Just not the same as marking up with a pen. 🙂

  7. I’m excited about him coming here. I will probably wind up with the novel and both craft books. Since he’s coming here, I’ll wait to see what he has to say. I found a writing craft book once before that changed my life. Maybe I’m ready for the next evolution.

  8. I’m so glad, Sue, that you’re enjoying that novel so much. And you make such a good case for crafting a story. It really does go deeper doesn’t it than just what happens in the story and to whom it happnes. It’s what the author is trying to express as well. And that simply comes across better when the story has a structure.

    • Exactly, Margot. There’s so much more than just telling a good story. Which is why the quote “There’s nothing to writing. You just sit at the keyboard and bleed.” is so true!

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