Top positive review
A valuable contribution to the literature of writing stories, focusing on story arcs and structure
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on May 3, 2021
The book, written by the creator of The Write Practice website, presents the author’s view of what it takes to write a successful book, namely a focus on structure. This focus is based on many years of experience both writing and working with other writers.
He makes a compelling case for using core values. It is the movement of those core values during the course of the narration that make a moving story. Also, he relates those values to key human needs and shows that those key value map onto key types genres, for example
Value: Life versus Death
Genre: Action, Adventure Stories
Through the use of several graphs, he shows the key types of story arcs, the change of the level of the value scale against the narration of the story, e.g., if the scale is life versus death is on a vertical scale, then as death is more likely the graph dips. It is this change over the course of the narration that the author claims changes a sequence of events into a story.
What I found very interesting is a study the author referred to, by researchers at the University of Vermont, that analyzed over “4,000 of the best novels from the Project Gutenberg library” (p 46), with the claim that six basic shapes dominate these story arcs. See Reagan A, Mitchell L, Kiley D, Danforth CMD, Dodds PS. The emotional arcs of stories are dominated by six basic shapes. EPJ Data Science (2016). 5:31. https://cdanfort.w3.uvm.edu/research/2016-reagan-epj.pdf
Another major section of the book introduces six elements of plot, that appear at various scales of the book, at the scene level up to the entire arc of the story level. These include exposition, inciting incident, rising action, dilemma, crises, and denouement.
Penultimately, the author talks about how to apply these concepts in writing and editing of a manuscript. I look forward to attempting to implement these concepts in the near future.
Finally, the author repeats what others have said, namely separate the writing of the first draft from perfecting the story. Using the tools ahead of time can help you if you get stuck, or can strengthen the story in an edit.
Overall, an interesting and useful addition to the books on how to write books, both through providing a conceptual framework for thinking of your story as well as practical suggestions to implement those concepts.
Note: This is a beta version of a living book, which has typos. The author admits that and made it available on Amazon to receive feedback to improve future versions of the book.
FB: A valuable contribution to the literature of writing stories, focusing on story arcs and structure. The author provides a conceptual framework for thinking of your story as well as practical suggestions to implement those concepts.