By Lorraine Beatty
If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve probably collected dozens of books on writing, and stacks of notes, handouts and pamphlets with even more advice and instruction. Each book holds valuable insights on improving your craft. They each have something that clicked with you, or gave you that aha moment. But others may have left you scratching your head in confusion. No two writers are the same. Which means there is no One Size Fits All book on writing. With the possible exception of Debra Dixon’s Goals Motivation and Conflict book.
When I first started my writing journey, I had two critique partners. We were all at the same starting point and learned together. But as we grew and our experience deepened we started to discover that what worked for one of us didn’t work for the other. One friend discovered the snowflake method and it opened her eyes to a new level of understanding. I read it and it didn’t connect with me at all. Each of us latched onto something in the many workshops, seminars, conferences, and speeches we heard that resonated with us. Sometimes it worked for all of us. Other times not.
As a result I ended up with a stack of writing books that each had little tidbits that helped me. A paragraph from this book, a few insights from that one, plus a file cabinet full of materials I’d collected from attending all those how-to events. When it came time to write my book I was wasting too much time locating the tidbit that would help me. Was it in the Vogler book or the Maass book?
So I sat down and wrote my own book on how to write. A kind of cheat sheet for plotting out my books. I started a document called the New Book Template and in it I gathered all those precious pieces of insight I’d collected over the years. I copied the highlighted sections, the key sentences that triggered deep insight and I transferred important notes I’d taken.
Once it was all in place then I sorted it into what should come first. Over time I learned the pieces I needed to begin with. I had to know the hero and heroine’s goals, I had to know what their conflict would be. I had to know the black moment early on because that gave me a point to write toward. My productivity increased significantly. Now whenever I start a new book I have a road map to follow and I don’t have to dig through books and papers to find what I need.
There are still times when I need to refer to a book. Writers never stop learning and growing.
I encourage you to start your own writing book. Put all those wonderful little insights in one place. At your fingertips. You’ll be glad you did.
Here are a few of my favorite writing books and tools:
The Writers Journey – Chris Vogler
The Character Interview – Alicia Rasley
The Story Within Plotting Guide – Alicia Rasley
Debra Dixon – Goals Motivation and Conflict
Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maass
Lorraine Beatty is a multi-published bestselling author of over fifteen inspirational books, including her most recent release, The Lawman’s Secret Son. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, she now calls Mississippi home. Lorraine’s the proud grandmother of five and loves to spend time with them when not writing. She and husband Joe love to travel.