OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Stories are the framework of writing, whether it's fiction or non-fiction. Stories are the way humans communicate and learn, so it's critical we understand as writers how to improve our stories.
In this video, I interview David Baboulene, author of The Story Book about improving story, sub-text and how to engineer a commercial bestseller like Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels.
In this video, David talks about:
- The 3 framework elements of story. (i) Arc of character growth. Every great story has a character that changes and grows (ii) Key questions that need to be answered by the conclusion of the story. iii) Subtext – the more there is.
- What is sub-text anyway? It's the underlying story. It's not written i.e. it's not obvious at the textual level. It's about introducing gaps in knowledge that the reader fills in which produces intrigue and engagement. Introducing knowledge gaps is important and the reader will fill in the blanks.
- How to improve your story using these techniques. Where is the power in this story? Look at character growth. Look at where the story really starts. Many first drafts have the inciting incident very late so consider cutting a lot of front matter once you find where the story really kicks off. Look at the questions you have opened, and ensure you address the questions by the end.
- On Lee Child's opinion on character development. When you're writing a series, if you allow your characters to change and grow, you run out of plot. So you can have other characters change around the character, and they can stay the same. Jack Reacher stays the same in every book, but characters in the book change around Jack. (If you haven't tried a Jack Reacher, check out my review of Worth Dying For here.)
- On engineering a bestseller. Lee Child came out of television and designed the book around a character. People remember characters, not what they do. (David has an interview with Lee Child in The Story Book)
You can find David at Baboulene.com where there are details about The Story Book, which is available online at Amazon and other stores.