|With Larry Brooks in Portland|
This weekend I attended the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland. The conference is for screenwriters and writers. All of the speakers offered a plethora of information in an engaging way. I learned so much from pros like Hallie Ephron, Eileen Cook, Gordy Hoffman and Luke Ryan. My only regret: that I couldn't attend every workshop.
This was the first conference I ever attended and all I can say is, wow. Huge value. Huge. My head is swimming with knowledge, ideas and lists of books to read by these great authors and teachers. And as for all the wonderful people I met, are all the people in Portland this nice?
The reason I signed up to go to Portland was to meet the King of Craft himself (in my humble opinion), Larry Brooks. Larry was teaching three days of story craft and after reading his books, Story Engineering and Story Physics; I knew I had to see him in person to thank him for making my dream of getting published a reality.
Rewind to three years ago. After finishing my manuscript and landing a superb literary agent I read Story Engineering and cried. I mean, had I known these core principles of story structure before writing my book it would have been so much better and saleable.
I looked at my manuscript with dismay and disappointment, had I only known...
Then I got a call from my agent, a publisher liked the premise but my book needed a complete re-write. A re-write? Where do I start? I asked. Page one, she said. Gulp.
Normally this is when most writers would reach for the bottle, I just reached for a king sized chocolate bar. But I also did a happy dance while gulping down said chocolate bar because now I could write my story using the principles I had learned and I knew it would be kick-ass.
Nine months later (and a few hundred chocolate bars later) my script went back to the publisher and by the end of the weekend, yes, it was Sunday, I was signing my first contract (and starting a diet). Thank you Larry Brooks. Not only that but NO major re-writes and nearly no edits, it was relatively painless (no chocolate required).
So if you think your story could be better, or if you're wondering how to write that great story that's keeping you up at nights, I recommend reading Brooks' books, or at least reading his blog, and no, I don't get a commission.