I’m so excited that Larry Brooks is presenting at the 2015 HNS Conference. I’m on the HNS 2015 Conference Board and I suggested inviting Larry to be a presenter at our conference. He’s a busy man giving workshops and talks all over the place. He even went to China recently. He’s also a writer of detective novels. So, I was thrilled he said yes to us. I’ve never met him, but I’m a total fan.
He comes across as a pulls-no-punches, straightforward and entertaining kind of guy, which is probably why I like him. He also cares about writers. He has a great teaching website and a blog (Storyfix.com), plus he’s written books on craft and he’s always giving stuff away. His website is all about helping writers become better writers. I have to admire that kind of giving back, and I’m confident he’s earning lots of good karma.
A critique partner who had read his books first introduced me to Larry’s method. She explained his four part structure when she saw the muddle my story was in and thought it might help. I’m a “pantser,” which you may know is one of those people who has a story idea and starts writing by the seat of their pants. Plotting is not something I like to do. In fact, the process of planning every scene bores me so much that I lose interest in the story and the fire that feeds creativity in my brain just fizzles out. Letting my imagination run free inspires the creative flow. The problem for me was that my undisciplined brain took me on too many tangents. No doubt, you can already see where that lead me – down the proverbial rabbit trails. Endless rabbit trails. It happens sometimes to pantsers. Let me add that not all pantsers have trouble with rabbit trails. There are many successful writers who are pantsers and have an instinctual sense of how to get where they want to go. Stephen King, for instance, claims to be a panster.
However, as a beginning writer that was not the case for me. I discovered that at some point I had to stop and ask myself, where am I in this story? What’s next? How do I get from here to there? And finally I knew I had to impose some organization on my story. But, plotting? Ugh.
So, I bought Larry’s book, Story Engineering. I devoured it. I tagged pages to return to for reference and I worked on the craft of structure. With guidance from Larry’s website, I learned how to deconstruct a story. I followed Larry’s blogs. I hooked up with a group of writers who were fans of Larry’s structure series and we formed a critique group.
Finally, I got brave enough to send my story in to Larry for a Storyfix Coaching Professional Analysis. You can find that on his website. His questionnaire is really in-depth and took me a long time to answer. In fact, it actually changed my story when I realized I didn’t have some of the components the questionnaire asked about.
What I got back was a true critique from a coach. He pointed out where the story was weak and showed me how I could improve it, just like a sports coach – must be his baseball background.
So I now call myself a “plantser”. I’m a hybrid, thanks to Larry. I still don’t plot like a true plotter and never will, but I don’t sit down without a plan either. Oh, make no mistake, I still have a lot to learn, which is why I’m looking forward to finally meeting Larry and hearing his workshop. I just hope I don’t act like one of those goofy fans.