Story Engineering, Story Physics, and Story Fix: Blogging About Books by Brooks (Say That Ten Times Fast)

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Larry Brooks’s books. I’ve mentioned them several times on my blog as well as in the comment sections of others. Aside from Stephen King’s book On Writing, Brooks’s books remain my favorite on the craft, and I’m relieved I discovered them early in my writing journey.

Though the author leans heavily toward plotting—which is why the books appeal to my left-brained thinking—pantsers will benefit as well, because regardless of our writing style, a good novel requires strong structure and execution. And that is what these books help us accomplish.

1. In Story Engineering, Brooks outlines six core competencies critical for strong story architecture: concept, character, theme, story structure (plot), scene construction, and writing voice. Within the competency of story structure, he presents what I find to be the most helpful tool in my writing arsenal: the four parts of story and the nine milestones that optimize story structure. This section of the book is my most dog-eared, highlighted, noted, and tagged.

My copy of Story Engineering. Book purists everywhere are weeping.

My copy of Story Engineering. Book purists everywhere are weeping.

2. In Story Physics, Brooks dresses up this underlying architecture with six storytelling forces: a compelling premise, dramatic tension, pacing, hero empathy, vicarious reading experience, and narrative strategy.

3. In Story Fix, his newest book, he helps us dissect our story for weaknesses, whether those weaknesses lie in concept and premise or in the execution itself (or both). This book is particularly helpful for those who’ve had a novel repeatedly rejected, because Story Fix allows a manuscript assessment in real time. Of course, it’s equally helpful to those in the throes of manuscript creation as well as those who are just getting started.

While you wouldn’t necessarily have to read Story Engineering and Story Physics before Story Fix, I’d recommend it. The first two give you a solid understanding of the craft, while the third allows you to assess what you’ve created.

As a thriller writer, Brooks’s books make strategic sense to me, but his techniques apply to all genres. After all, our goal is to keep readers turning the pages. The tools he offers will help us do that.

What’s your favorite writing book?

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Rubin4Carrie Rubin is the author of Eating Bull and The Seneca Scourge. For full bio, click here.

190 Responses to “Story Engineering, Story Physics, and Story Fix: Blogging About Books by Brooks (Say That Ten Times Fast)”

  1. Joanna Aislinn

    Now I know why I missed this post: it landed on Younger Sons birthday. We “celebrated” by accompanying him to a world-renowned medical facility to discuss knee reconstruction after his team-mate landed on his right (dominant) knee during the last JV football game of the 2015 season. 😐

    Story Engineering is probably THE most useful tool I’ve come across when it comes to craft. Story Physics somehow didn’t intrigue me as much, but you make excellent cases for each book and how they work together as a whole. Congrats on your interview with LB! What an awesome–and well-deserved–compliment! You go, girl!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! And I’m glad to hear you like Story Engineering as much as me. Sorry again about your son though. How terrible. I hope he’s healing okay.

      Like

      • Joanna Aislinn

        You’re welcome and thank you for your good wishes. Please feel free to keep them headed his way: he is scheduled for knee reconstruction a week from today. TTYS and take care! 🙂

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          • Joanna Aislinn

            Thanks again. (Something tells me the real fun has yet to begin.) He’s been a trooper all the way. Breaks my heart to see him limp with that dropped foot. I’m praying that peroneal nerve comes back once it’s been freed of scar tissue.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. A @ moylomenterprises

    I’m nowhere near writing a book, and if I finally do it would most likely be a compilation, not a novel requiring all this brain matter involvement, but this is some good info. 👍

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  3. Vanessa-Jane Chapman

    Obviously I’m too late for the comp, but thank you for those book recommendations , they sound like they follow a logical process which appeals to me, rather than something abstract which can feel inspirational but doesn’t really help in a practical way. I haven’t really read many books about writing, I keep thinking I should, but always come back to the old – when I have time…

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    • Carrie Rubin

      They’re definitely practical and logical which is why I like them so much.As you point out, sometimes the abstract advice is more difficult to incorporate. It’s good to read that type of work too, but these books give my stories a strong foundation. Or at least I like to think they do. 🙂

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  4. frederick anderson

    It sounds interesting. Particularly so to me, as my latest attempt is proving to be a primary example of what happens when the structural process breaks down. I am fascinated by the persistence wherewith I keep struggling long after I am doomed to drown…

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    • Carrie Rubin

      That happened with my first novel, and as a result it required several drafts. Now I try to work out all the kinks beforehand. Makes the story easier to write when I know where I’m headed, and I end up needing less drafts.

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  5. Britt Skrabanek

    When I used to write in secret, I didn’t really care about the technique because nobody ever read my work. So, writing technique books were never high on my to-read list.

    But I have been incorporating a few into my repertoire these past two years. I find them very interesting now that I’m so deep into writing. It doesn’t mean that I agree with all of the advice, but it’s worth hearing other perspectives on writing to see if something is worth trying.

    I started reading Story Engineering after you mentioned it in your recent guest blog. It’s really great! I was planning on reading the Physics one, and now I know there is a third one to check out.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      It’s nice to have a variety of styles and techniques to compare to see what fits us best. But once I read Story Engineering it changed how I structured things. And for the better, I hope. 🙂

      Thank you for the Twitter share!

      Liked by 1 person

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