So I am making progress on my novel. I worked for about three hours yesterday and now have about 40 pages. I am going to do a brief revision on this chunk so that I can post it to my writing group. That anal retentive nature of mine won't let me post anything without at least one round of revisions. I am excited with the changes I have made, and feel like the story is really coming together.
I owe a great deal of thanks to a member of my writing group, who suggested I read Robert McKee's book "Story". It has been so helpful. I got it about a week ago, but distracted by Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I didn't start reading it until Sunday. Now I can't put it down. I read it over my lunch break. I read it from 5 when I got home until 9:30 when I stopped to print off my story. Not only do I find it entertaining and easy to read, but it is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted very specific and precise definitions of what a story is, the elements it contains, and how they should be pieced together. This book does just that. And even though it is primarily written for screenwriters, it is easily transferable to fiction, since the stories of films are primarily fiction themselves.
SO I suggest that anyone trying to write a story, or curious about the craft of writing, read this book. I really like a comparison he makes in the first chapter. "If your dream were to compose music, would you say to yourself: 'I've heard a lot of symphonies...I can also play the piano...I think I'll knock one out this weekend'? No. But that's exactly how many screenwriter's begin: 'I've seen a lot of fliks, some good, some bad...I got A's in English...Vacation time is coming...Maybe I'll write a movie."
I love this, and I would argue that this is exactly how many new writer's come to be. I could even argue that it is how I came to be, minus one crucial element. I read lots of books. I was always good at English, and Writing, and yes, one day I thought I can do this. But the difference is, once I decided I could do this, I immediately looked for ways to master the craft. My trouble was that there are very few books, good books, that deal with the craft of writing. I think that writers, simply like to be expressive and talk of the joys of writing, the ups and downs, the antecdotes that make us laugh, and cry and connect to one another, but there are few books that deal with the structure of a story, the elements that should be present. Oh sure, there are the books that list the main items that everyone knows, plot, character, setting, beginning, middle, and end, climax, resolution...These things are always mentioned but not much help and in most cases already known. But what makes a plot? What differentiates act one from Act three. How long should a scene be? How do you decide where to place that scene? Where does your story begin, where does it end? These are the questions that I have been trying to answer, and finally I have an answer. Even if I disagree with some of what he says, at least it's an answer, a set of rules that I can follow or break.
Ok so I am going to go back to reading the book, because in talking about it, I decided I missed reading it. Maybe I will revise the first two chapters tomorrow.
Oh and by the way, I am going to see the Lion King tomorrow. I wonder if I can apply the story to the structure device McKee has created?
Look how good I am at posting to the blog!!! I'm shooting for daily, and I suppose as long as I am in a good mood, I will be able to keep that up.