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Verk av Nancy Ellen Dodd


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This book is actually closer to 2.5 stars.

I was looking for something like a (semi-)graphical model for layout a story, something like a story outline but in a "map." The book provides that... but not with any insight or detail beyond what I could probably come up with myself, having now read 2 books on writing (including this one): a three-box/act structure and then some illegible 5-10 word summaries for the 8 or 10 or 14 rise and falls of the overall "rise" in action/tension/etc.

I was hoping for a good second take on plotting out a novel (literally, but also somewhat figuratively) but got a somewhat disorganized discussion about hooks and the three-act structure and so forth, but without any (clear) discussion of novel-specific components or organization (which can be broken into 4 parts, with the "middle" dividing around the story midpoint), any genre-specific advice, etc.

I was promised a seven-step method for writing... and I got it. But again, I'm not sure I found out anything new. I should brainstorm first, and then mull over an overarching plot and how I might present that, then think about my characters and flesh them out (and probably go back and rethink the ideas and plot as part of that), then break the story up into scenes and transitions... All this is pretty much how I would do it, again, without having read anything. Maybe that just means I'm a natural and I should get on with the writing because, damn, I just have "it." But doubt it.

Or maybe that is just it; there is no magic path, no special sauce, no lightbulb... you write a story by thinking about it, thinking some more, jotting down some notes, thinking some more, reviewing those notes, thinking some more, writing a few scenes, thinking some more... and that is just it. That is writing.

The thing that saves this book from being a complete waste is also the last annoying thing about it. Probably 1/4 of this book is bulleted lists of questions you should be asking. Asking about your characters, your scenes, your hook, your language, your plot, your pacing, and so forth. Basically (and I say this without having ever say in on even one writing group), if you sat in on writing groups for a year and just wrote down the questions and suggestions people raise in review of others' writing, then generalized them, you would get these lists. So that is nice; a lot of knowledge/data has been collected here.

Here is why that is annoying. There is no way I'm going to sit and ask this list of 33 questions (without counting sub-questions) of each of my scenes, while asking these other 47 questions of the dialogue in that scene, while asking these 12 questions about the character arc, etc. Half the questions won't apply, and a lot of the others are so general they aren't the kind of questions you sit down and ask generically ("What are the repercussions of this scene be in later scenes..?" If you are sitting down asking yourself that you have a problem that you should have already noted. I can't imagine going through all 60 or 70 or 90 scenes in a novel and asking this, much less the other 40 questions.)

If I could somehow internalize all these questions so that they just occupied my un-conscious evaluation as I wrote, then, *boom*. So, in that sense, these questions do serve a purpose; once you don't need these questions spelled out, once they all happen automatically, you will have attained the status of a "good writer." But going through them step by step is like giving someone 70 pages of written instructions on how to drive from your house to the store... and then saying, "I've taught you how to drive." That is ridiculous. Yes, those 70 pages do contain all the details that a new driver needs, all the details that an experienced driver would go through... but not consciously. Not linearly. Not as a bulleted list.
… (mer)
dcunning11235 | Aug 12, 2023 |


½ 3.6

Tabeller & diagram