Story Engineering

51i0lzgdhtl-_sx323_bo1204203200_Story Engineering: Mastering the 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks was published by Writer’s Digest Books in 2011.

Had I opened this book six years ago (2011) I wouldn’t have made it through the first chapter. Here I am half-way through the book twelve years into writing, learning and meager success in publishing, and I have almost stuffed Story Engineering into a drawer about a dozen times.

It’s good. No, it’s great stuff. Fascinatingly complex stuff. Larry Brooks writes like a genius in my opinion. I, unfortunately, don’t read like a genius.

Some of his Pauline sentences come close to giving me a headache.

Brooks explores in minute detail what he calls the Six Core Competencies of successful writing. He doesn’t skimp on the details. But I am having difficulty absorbing all of the details in this exposition.

He also proposes that both types of story tellers, writers—planners and pantsers—must master these Six Core Competencies in order to succeed. They simply do it from two different starting points. They are headed for the same destination, riding the same train, they are simply taking two different routes to getting there.

He says in Chapter One, “The Six Core Competencies comprise the first storytelling model I have seen that brings all of the necessary components and skill sets of successful storytelling under one approach.”

I can buy that.

Brooks devotes 50 intertwining chapters to these Six Core Competencies. So far I vote for him being amazingly knowledgeable. But I’m having trouble wrapping my head around all that he has to say.

Story Engineering is NOT for the beginning writer. Shucks, it’s not for the median writer, I think. The pages of my Kindle version are dripping with yellow. I keep highlighting things I think I need to remember. That’s about half of the words, so far.

The Six Core Competencies fall into two categories:

  • The four basic elements of story
  • The two narrative skills required to effectively implement those elements

It’s not until the bottom of chapter three that he actually lists and gives a cursory explanation of the six.

  • Concept
  • Character
  • Theme
  • Structure
  • Scene Execution
  • Writing Voice

I’ve read about all six from the perspectives of dozens of writers. But Brooks attempts to weave them all together in a complex and beautiful design that guarantees the success of your efforts.

I have to admit to you that I’m plodding my way through the 300 some-odd pages. This isn’t light reading. Not for me anyway.

If you are totally serious about writing novels or screenplays. Story Engineering is well worth your considerable investment of time. Just stick your brain into the best brain-sharpener you can find first. In my opinion keeping up with Brooks is going to take the sharpest brain you can put to the task.



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