…3…2…1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!
by Jessica Brown, Screenwriter and Board Member of Phoenix Screenwriters Association
Are you ready?
Have you mapped out your writing projects?
Sharpen your Blackwing pencils?
How about organizing and cleaning up your writing space? Washed out your favorite writers mug?
Then dear Writer, get writing. But first read about what I have in store for 2021 and how to keep building that Writer’s Toolbox of wonderful resources and books on the Craft of writing.
This year I am going to divide the year into four acts (because that’s what us writers do) and by year end we will have discovered tools in the areas of Plots, Story, Characters, and Rewriting. 2020 was the year of must-have books. 2021 will be the year of fundamentals for our tool box.
Let’s jump in…
Story Physics: Harnessing The Underlying Forces of Storytelling by Larry Brooks.
Before you moan and groan and tell me “I failed science in high school. Don’t make me go back there” hear me out. This is Storytelling Physics. Mr. Brooks defines Story Physics as the nature applied to a goal. He tells us “The physics of cooking are similar to the physics of storytelling: Better ingredients and better tools, applied to a proven recipe that allows you to season, to taste, lead to a better result.”
See? That wasn’t too painful. Well, almost. So let’s break this down….”professional writers get to choose what ingredients they use, and how they are combed and prepared.“ Ah! Now we get it. So once we understand the story forces and how to use them, we can craft a better story.
In his delightful book, the author divides the learning of story physics into Four Parts. Part One: May the Story Forces Be With You. Part Two: The Optimization of Story Physics. Part Three: The Power of Process. Part Four: Story Physics in the Real Writing World. He does apply Story Physics at Work in The Hunger Games as an example. Mr. Brooks also gives you a summary of the Six Core Competencies of Successful Storytelling, in case you missed it as you read through the book.
One of my favorite chapters, The Highest Goal of Your Writing Process, is the heart of what he is teaching us. Mr. Brooks writes: “Wherein we finally agree that there is more than one way to skin a manuscript.” He acknowledges “The underlying forces of a story are best served when the writer recognizes where and how within that flow to apply those forces and how to connect them as the narrative unfolds. One’s process defines where, how, and how soon the idea for a story will dissolve seamlessly into a concept that sets the stage for the layered sequential narrative of an effective story. And in doing so, she defines when and how story physics will be applied.”
The author’s wise advice really hits home. He reminds us: “Write your story however you need to write it, process-wise. But don’t turn a blind eye to what’s true about the bones of the story itself, however you get there. What the story demands from you in order for it to work is nonnegotiable.” He goes on to say: “The highest goal of any writing process is to find and execute the best possible story. If your process is part of the problem-for writers who can’t seem to get it right, or get it published, or sold, it usually is-then the process should be taken apart and changed.”
So there we have it! A wonderful and honest look at storytelling by an author who recognizes that it doesn’t matter what your process is, so long as you get an amazing and entertaining story filled with engaging characters who must overcome unbelievable challenges on the page. No one really cares how you got there.
And you thought this was going to be painful.
Happy New Year! May this year be filled with many blissful hours of writing. I hope to see you on Zoom at our many events we have planned for this year. Check out PSA MeetUp or Eventbrite, or the PSA Home Page on the web.
Feel free to reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your writing adventures, ideas or thoughts. You can also catch me at The Writers’ Insights Workshops monthly event and The Writers Lounge, also a monthly event.