I wandered over to Alexandra Sokoloff's blog after seeing the title of her latest post in the sidebar of another blog. The title was Nanowrimo Prep: The three-act, eight-sequence structure.
I'm all about getting as prepared as I can for Nanowrimo, so I was happy to read about some practical exercises I can do to get my story idea in the best shape possible to make the writing go faster.
Sokoloff is a multi-published novelist and successful screenwriter. She wrote a book called Screenwriting Tricks for Authors (and Screenwriters). She has a way of explaining concepts that is very easy to grasp, and she follows each one with an exercise or two that cements the new knowledge.
The Amazon page has a copy of the extensive Table of Contents, if you'd like to take a look (it's too long for me to post here). There are thirty-three information-filled chapters. And at the end of the book, she shares complete story breakdowns for four different movies to help readers get a feel for story structure.
This book will help writers understand story structure (by watching movies--how fun is that?) and applying the knowledge to a manuscript. Whether you're starting a new novel, in the middle of one, or tackling revisions, Sokoloff's expertise will help you find holes, discover unnecessary scenes, and place key scenes in the spots they'll do the most good. You'll find out why blockbuster movies get that way, and how to take those secrets and incorporate them in your work in progress.
I spent some time yesterday watching a favorite movie in my novel's genre, and writing down the scenes, while timing when they occurred in the film. Now I've used Sokoloff's index card system to tack them up according to the eight sequences they fall into. (Why eight sequences, you ask? Sokoloff explains the fascinating reason why in the first chapter.)
My mind is already analyzing what I've written in my almost-complete novel. I know what I've learned in only the first five chapters will help me make some important decisions about what stays and goes. I'm using the book as a course to focus my mind on my Nanowrimo project. And I've also purchased Sokoloff's second writer's book ($2.99), titled Writing Love, which is her techniques geared for romance writers.
Here are the links to the international Amazon sites where you can get a copy:
Have screenwriting techniques helped you as a novelist?