Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing a Premise Statement--Why This Tip from Screenwriters Can Help Book Writers of Any Genre

In my online book -structuring classes, we always write a premise statement.  Most new writers have never heard of this focusing tool for books.  It's borrowed from the film world.  Screenwriters use it as their pitch line to sell movies to producers.

How does it help book writers--say, if you're writing a memoir or a novel or a nonfiction book?   

It is the easiest way to see if you have a book at all.  Why?  Because it immediately lets you "test" your book idea in terms of inner and outer story balance (the inner meaning versus the outer event or topic) to see if a reader would be engaged.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Finding the Key Conflicts in Your Story--How to Sift through all the Problems to Find the Pivot

The main reason books are rejected, according to one of my colleagues who is in the business?  Nothing happens.

The stakes in a story must always be high enough to make us care about the people, the information, the place.   

But some writers downplay conflict, protecting both readers and characters from the mess and chaos.  Ironically, this is quite dangerous!  Unless key conflicts come forward right away, something to drive the story and create tension, there's little chance we'll keep reading.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Crafting a Credible Narrator--How the Emotional Narrative Arc Works in Memoir

A writer in one of my classes is working on a memoir about a serious event that happened a few years ago.  She's focused in on the months of discovery, treatment, and recovery--and it's a good read.  Very traumatic, written in a tense yet slightly humorous style.   

Anyone who has been through trauma knows that often, during the experience, survival  is the only thing we pay attention to.  Getting through it, as intact as possible.   

This writer did survive, thankfully.   And she wants to share her particular view on what happened.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Value of Winter Writing Retreats-- How to Stand Back and Get a Better Look at Your Book

Years ago, I lived near the excitement and chaos of New York City--close enough to train in for an opera or play.  The speed of life was fast there, even though our home was in the suburbs.  A family change brought us all to a remote village in northern New England.  I loved the idea of calming down, working on my next novel, and trying life in the "real" country. 

I thought I'd be bored.  To my surprise, I fell in love with it. 

Winter where I live now is the "holiday postcard" type--deep snow, fierce winds, blue chilly skies, and staying indoors except for snowshoeing and skiing.  Winter is a force to surrender to, not fight.  When the plow doesn't clear your road for hours after a storm, you adjust your plans.