Thursday, July 14, 2016

Review: The Ballad of Black Tom

The Ballad of Black Tom The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

This was a fun novella. Not entirely what I expected, but fun nonetheless. I really enjoyed the character of Tom and the police detective. I will have to look for more work by author Victor LaValle. Hopefully he has other books set in the same world so I can find out what happens to Tom and the detective moving forward. Fun read.

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Review: The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know

The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know The Story Grid: What Good Editors Know by Shawn Coyne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy crap. This book is amazing! As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm a huge fan of story structure. I think it is one of the most important concepts to nail down in terms of writing commercial genre fiction. I've used the theory of story structure to write several novels and short stories, but after each one I thought the revision and rewriting process (i.e., editing) was a simple matter of cleaning up sentence structure. I knew I was missing something. My stories weren't selling, and I felt as though there ought to be some form of structured editing process as well. I am so thankful to Shawn Coyne for "The Story Grid," which offers exactly what I was looking for.

This book is dense, and Shawn is clearly a story nerd. He has done what most aspiring writers should do, but he's done it working as an editor. Namely, dissect stories to their smallest part to discover what works and what doesn't. We should all be doing this. I should be doing it, but to date, I haven't. It seemed like too much work for too little gain. Well, my friends, my eyes have been opened. Look out first draft. I'm going to tear you apart and tweak the nuts and bolts until you are prefect now.

I would recommend this book to anyone, everyone, who wants to write. Not only for his clear presentation of story structure (which can be used to outline a story) but for all the nuggets of gold for the editing process. I bought the eBook version, but will be going back to purchase the paperback so I can make copious notes and mark pages with information I'm sure I've forgotten in the vast amount of data within this book. It's not a huge tome, but there is so much in here it requires (at least for me) several read-throughs. (Thankfully, Shawn has a website with supplemental material to help support the book. I highly recommend it, too.)

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