Sunday, February 21, 2010

Diving Deeper

In response to last week’s post, J. Irvin Kuns, the author of While You Were Out (Dutton, 2004, a Junior Library Guild selection), wrote:

As so often happens when following the links offered on wordswimmer, I find myself diving deeper and deeper into the various related articles, interviews and exercises provided at the end of each post. It happened again with last week's link to After doing the exercise recommended by author Larry Brooks, I noticed an e-book he wrote called Story Structure - Demystified. Since structure has always been my nemesis, I took the bait and ordered the book. I always suspected there was a book on structure out there somewhere that was different from all the rest. For me, this is that book.

Normally, whenever I pick up a book on structure and see those jagged mountain graphics that are supposed to represent rising and falling action, with the peaks growing taller and steeper and looking more and more ominous as they cross the plain of the page, I immediately shelve the book and run. I just cannot get my right-brained head around that kind of approach. Also with most books on structure there seems to be this underlying assumption that all writers understand what such things as plot points, turning points, midpoints, and pinch points (what are pinch points?!?!) represent and how they all relate to each other. I will readily admit I am not one of those people.

In this book, Brooks kindly, gently, and patiently leads us, using helpful analogies, towards a real understanding of what it is a writer must do to make a manuscript work. In the exercise that got me into all of this in the first place, Brooks suggests listening to three specific songs as a sort of meditation and inspiration to help draw you back to the page. One of those songs is "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley. It is a beautiful and haunting song and I have listened to it several times over the last couple of days. But it was Brooks' book on structure that really drew me back to my work-in-progress, this time feeling cautiously optimistic that I finally (finally, finally!) have a clue about how to approach it. Hallelujah, indeed!

For more information about Brooks’ book on structure, visit:

And to read more on writing from J. Irvins Kuns, visit:

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