Writing the Heart of your Story, by C.S. Lakin (Ubiquitous Press, 2014)
What transforms a novel from a good read to one that lingers in readers’ imaginations? C.S. Lakin suggests the key is finding—and writing—the story’s heart. Finding it, she says, requires seeing the big picture, or some level of pre-writing discovery. Once a writer has found this connection point, he/she is in a strong position to weave it through the whole story.
Sections of the book focus on the heart of the story, of the characters, and of the plot, with extra sections on scenes and settings. Each chapter ends with a “think about” assignment, which turns this already-helpful book into a personalized writing course. Most assignments send writers back to their own favourite books to observe how those authors succeeded, and then challenge us to re-evaluate our own work.
If you’re a die-hard seat-of-the-pants writer, you may not value the book as much as I do, but you’ll likely find some things to help in your revision stages. C.S. Lakin is an unapologetic advocate of pre-planning, using the analogy of a mine: if you’re digging for the heart of your story, it makes sense to stabilize the tunnel so it won’t collapse.
I’ve done a prodigious amount of highlighting in this book, and it’s one I’ll go back to again and again to deepen my understanding. My first reading taught me things I’ve been able to apply immediately, and taking time to do the homework will build on that.
C.S. Lakin is a novelist and writing coach. Writing the Heart of your Story is one of her Writers’ Toolbox books, compiling a year’s worth of teaching on her Live Write Thrive blog. It’s available in multiple ebook formats as well as in print.
[Review copy from my personal library.]