From Kate’s Writing Crate…
Normally this week’s post would be an essay on writing, but I just finished Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It by Steven Pressfield. It’s a perfect companion to last week’s writing book recommendation Invisible Ink by Brian McDonald.
I’ve been a fan of Steven Pressfield since I read The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. I reviewed it on this blog in my first post on 8/30/12. It’s the book that turned me into a professional writer. Do yourself a favor and read it, then reread it.
In Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, Pressfield recounts how he became a writer as well as sharing all the truths he learned about writing along the way. Like McDonald in Invisible Ink, Pressfield uses movies and TV shows to illustrate his points—showing, not just telling—because using a story structure works for any genre that you want to appeal to an audience.
Because a story (whether it’s a movie, a play, a novel, or a piece of nonfiction) is experienced by the reader on the level of the soul. And the soul has a universal structure of narrative receptors…
The soul judges a story’s truth by how closely it comports to the narrative templates that are a part of our psyche from birth… (pp. 63-64)
For his screenplays, Pressfield recommends: Start with an Inciting Incident, deal with the villain, then transformation of the hero completes the story.
How can you tell when you’ve got a good Inciting Incident? When the movie’s climax is embedded in within it. (page 75). Followed by chapters: “The Second Act Belongs to the Villain” (pp. 76-77) and “Every Character Must Represent Something Greater Than Himself” (pp.78-79) to set the story. Chapters “Write for a Star” (pp. 94-95); “The All is Lost Moment” (page 104); and “Give Your Villain a Brilliant Speech” (pp. 108-109) round out your work.
Pressfield discusses his “overnight success” when he publishes his first novel at the age of fifty-one on pp. 120-121. Here he lists nine storytelling secrets followed by a list of ten skills he learned in twenty-seven years of writing.
His chapter “Fiction is Truth” on page 122 is essential reading as are “Narrative Device” on pp. 124-125 and “Novels are Dangerous” on pp. 128-129.
From fiction, Pressfield moves to nonfiction in “A Non-Story is a Story” including a list of eight universal principles of storytelling (pp 148-149) and to self-help in “Flashback: Narrative Device in The War of Art” (172-173) and “Flashback: Hero and Villain in The War of Art” on page 174 to reveal how many of the same principles apply.
In The Artist’s Calling section, I loved “There is a Muse” on page 181 and “The Artist’s Skill” on page 184.
I also read and love Steven Pressfield’s blog, Writing Wednesdays, too.
I just started reading Brian McDonald’s blog, Ink Spots—also the title of another of his books.