I won’t spoil that post but I will say that if you have not commented to win a copy of this book, you are doing yourself an injustice. Unless you plan on buying it anyway. Because you need it. It’s like a writing Bible. Seriously.
One of the things that the book made me ponder was how much I’ve changed since I started writing. And then that question made me ponder whether or not I changed at all. Maybe I just got to know the other side of myself.
Think about it. Martha points out that most people’s tendencies are dominated by either the left or right hemisphere of their brain. I loved that she included this in her book…psychology was my minor in college.
Left brained writers tend to be more analytical with their writing. They focus on details and think in language more than pictures. They like to write action, and writing in a linear fashion comes naturally. These thinkers like structure. They are plotters by nature.
Right brained writers see the big picture but have a hard time breaking a story into its parts. They think in pictures and much of their writing centers around developing characters and emotion. These thinkers despise pre-plotting. They tend to work things out as they go…they are pantsers by nature.
Now…even though one side of our brain may dominate and our nature may be one way or the other, we have to remember that we do indeed have that other side. Some of us are a good mix of those two sides. BUT… if one side dominates, we have to be able to tap into the resource that is the other half of our MIND.
A while back I posted about how I was a pantser by nature and a plotter by necessity. Never has a statement been so true.
When I started writing, I definitely thought in pictures. I wrote thousands of words of backstory on my characters to aid in their development. The idea of plotting made me kinda queasy…and not because I really believed it would limit my creative ability.
I was lazy.
But then I started studying story structure in depth and the truth hit me in the face. Kristen Lamb says it best:
Say I want to make chocolate cake. My end goal is a chocolate cake. So I set out cooking, but I don’t want to use butter, and I don’t like eggs, and definitely no flour and I just can’t bring myself to use chocolate. Instead, I want to use vanilla pudding, and slices of bananas and top it off with vanilla wafer cookies and LOTS of whipped cream.So you say, “Wait, but you aren’t making chocolate cake.”And I say, “Well this is how I make chocolate cake.”And you say, “But, you just made banana pudding. That’s NOT chocolate cake.”And I get huffy and reply, “Stop judging me. Maybe YOU make chocolate cake differently, but everyone needs to do what works for them.”You would think I was a lunatic. Yes, I made a dessert….but I didn’t make a chocolate cake.
I wasn’t making chocolate cake. My novel did not have the story structure seen in thousands of published novels. Many writing rules can be bent if you know when and when not to bend them. But not this one. Unless you get really lucky or happen to be Cormac McCarthy or Stephen King, stick to the rules. Basic story structure IS important – like it or not.
Can you write a book without it? Sure. But think about books that you read and put down only to leave them to collect an eternal amount of dust. Often times the stories that don’t sync with us are the ones with a weak structure.
NOTE: Being a pantser does not necessarily equal weak structured writing. I know pantsers with an internal storytelling mechanism that automatically puts that structure in their writing. I’m envious. I have to work at mine.
SO! For me, the task became to learn structure and actually apply it. I guess you could say I balanced my brain LOL. Most people would disagree.
Here are two more quotes by Bill Phillips from a previous post I wrote. I LOVE THESE QUOTES.