from Amber Royer’s Story Like a Journalist
This is going to be a bit different. I just recently got this book, just in time for pre-Nanowrimo planning. So I’m going to be using October to go through the book to plan my novel for November! So this is just part one, what I’ve read so far and my initial thoughts. I’ll have another post mid-October for an update, then a concluding post at the end of October.
We’ll see how it goes.
First, a disclaimer
Amber Royer has had some problems with the publication of the print copies of this book. As of October 1st, there is no guarantee that you will receive a good copy of the print version of the book. The publishers sent the wrong file to be printed. If you want a good copy, buy the ebook version.
Still want a physical copy?
You can contact Amber Royer through her website to see if she has good copies that she can sell you. That’s how I got ahold of my copy. You could also try ordering it from Barnes and Noble or your favorite indy bookstore rather than Amazon.
However, I might recommend the ebook, as a good half of the book is made up of worksheets that you can print and fill out. Some of these may need to be printed multiple times, to fit all the information you need. So the ebook version will save you some time.
Also, just personally, the book felt a little unwieldy, so I took it to a local print shop and had them spiral bind it, so that I could flip through pages easier.
Part one: Introduction
Admittedly, I haven’t gotten very far in the book yet. In fact, I’ve just read chapter one and filled out the worksheets related to the story bible. So far, though, the book is very good!
I’m working on a novel that generated from my short story challenge during Nanowrimo last year, so I already have about 6200 words written. For me, that’s a good thing. It gives me a good handle on the main character and proves (to myself, at least) that I am excited enough about the idea that I can get a full novel out of it.
It does not, however, mean that I have any idea where this novel is going.
That’s where this book comes in. We start with a brief introduction that explains the journalist’s lede and how it can apply to fiction. We are going to use the “5 W’s” (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How) to make our own story stronger. Alright. That will be in later weeks. For this first week I have only read Chapter One: Your Story Bible.
Part Two: The Story Bible
This goes over the very basics of your story, giving an in depth description of things like POV and narration and choosing a protagonist. It also gives a checklist for if you even need a story bible, which I appreciated, even though I always need a story bible for novels.
Some of the worksheets were easy to fill out because I had already made a lot of these decisions when I wrote the first two chapters of the book. Some are continuing worksheets that I will fill out in November, like the characters, objects, and places lists. But some were a lot more difficult to fill out. I had to really give some thought to, like what genre conventions I was going to stick to and which ones I might twist. I might come back to that one after I’ve done a bit more with premise and plot.
Some of the worksheets in chapter one are more geared toward ongoing story generation rather than working on the story idea you have already, but that’s fine. I just printed those out to put in another notebook for generating lots of story ideas. Now I have more approaches than just scrolling through TV Tropes and figuring out how I want to twist them!
One of the best things about this book so far is the Language Worksheets. This main character is very different than any others I’ve written before, partially because she is less educated and uses a lot of “thieves cant” that I’m making up as I go along. So I have lots of printable worksheets where I can list out all the words she uses and their definitions. Plus language worksheets where I can work out a grammar and syntax, if I want to take the jargon a step further.
Other bits of note: A Storyboarding worksheet for figuring out bits of action. A Blocking worksheet for working out a fight scene, among other things. A Novelist Lede worksheet for reworking the opening several times until you get it just right.
The Verdict (Thus far):
This is going to be very exciting!