So how did I get back into writing?

Where better to begin than with a book…

As I explained in Part 1, I couldn’t start writing until I felt that I knew, or at least had a basic idea of, what I was doing.

This is where I began –

1 2 3 4

They are all great books (all from Writers Digest – click on any of them to be taken to Amazon) and I recommend them to anyone learning how to write. But, for me, they still didn’t properly explain where to start, how to pull it all together. They dip in and explore different aspects of the craft of writing a good story. What they didn’t do for me was look at the bigger picture.

You see, I’m a planner not a ‘pantser’. What is he on about… ?! I will explain.

Without a doubt the BEST book I have on my shelf, the one that showed me how to plot a novel and move a story forward is ‘Story Engineering’ by Larry Brooks.


Here, finally, was a book that spoke my language! Brooks explains how most stories fall into an identifiable pattern. It’s not just a ‘beginning, middle & end’ approach, it’s far more sophisticated than that. Whether you’re someone who thinks of a character or a plot and start writing by the seat of your pants (a ‘pantser’) or whether you’re a planner (like me), Brooks says that you’ll end up with a story that follows a time-honoured pattern. You can both acknowledge that pattern and plan from the outset, or you can take the ‘pantser’ approach and end up doing redraft after redraft to clip and push and pull your manuscript into the right shape.

I will write a separate post expanding on the virtues of planning or ‘pantsing’. But, for the purposes of this post, I will end by recommending ‘Story Engineering’ to anyone in the early stages of writing a novel or thinking about embarking upon the journey. It provided me with a blueprint for how to plan a novel. Amazing! I could start!

But it wasn’t all about reading books for me. At some point I had to knuckle down and write something, which I did. More about that in Part 3.