Archive for October 13th, 2010

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 by Bob Mayer
Book & Author Dissection– Learn from the experts

Book & Author Dissection

I know you think you are writing the book that’s never been written before, but you’re not. Every idea has been done. You’re just going to do the idea a bit differently. So find a book like what you want to write and analyze it. Remember, everything in a story is done for a purpose. Also, read first and breakout novels. Reading some bestselling author’s latest isn’t going to help you much. They could sell their laundry list.

Do a scene break down, focusing not so much on what happens in each scene, but on the purpose of the scene.

Do an overall story break down, focusing on the five elements of narrative structure. (Initiating event, escalating conflict, crisis, climax, resolution).

Then ask yourself: How are you going to be different?

One thing I like doing is a plot dissection using DVDs of films and shows. Going to scene selection on the DVD. Note how the scenes are titled.

When I watch something I always note what the opening shot is. Normally, this sets the TONE for the story that follows. Remember the opening shot of Saving Private Ryan? No, it wasn’t the old man in the cemetery or the landing craft. It was the American flag. That set the tone for the rest of the movie.

Note the opening scene. This is the most important scene.

Note how the protagonist is introduced.

Note how the antagonist is introduced.

Search for the elements of plot.

In life, think of yourself and others in the same way. What is the first appearance you make to others at a conference?  As a writer? What tone are you trying to set?

How are others reacting to you? Personally? Professionally?

Do an author dissection. No, not literally, although I am sure there are some authors you would like to do that to. See what worked in their career. See what didn’t work. Study their career path and their publishing path.

What was their break out book?

What from their career path should you emulate?

What should you avoid?

How are you going to be different?

Warrior Writer Tip:  Any time you say “We’ll see” and you referring to something that is just about you, you’re putting a subconscious negative out there.  You’re mitigating your responsibility for what it is.  I find whenever I say “We’ll see” it’s a big red flag that makes me focus on whatever I’ve said it about.  Say “I’ll make this happen” rather than the vague “We’ll see”.