Prather’s Pick: Consulting the ‘book doctor’
Have you started writing a book but haven’t been able to finish it? Is your work-in-progress “not yet working?” Maybe you need to consult a book doctor or, more precisely, a book doctor’s book.
“The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel,” was written by Dinty W. Moore.
Moore is director of the MA and Ph.D. creative writing programs at Ohio University. He has written both fiction and nonfiction. Another of his books for writers is “Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals.” In the title, “Cannibals” is in reference to an infamous essay, Montaigne’s “Of Cannibals.”
In the introduction to the book, Moore explains that a book doctor doesn’t proofread but instead looks at the book (the patient) as a whole, makes a diagnosis as to why the piece of writing isn’t working and suggests a story cure. He suggests the writer may be letting negative voices of doubt get in the way, and this is addressed in the book, was well.
The book is divided into two parts comprising nine chapters. Part I is “Cures” and Part II is “Checkups.” The book is full of helpful information, and it is enjoyable to read, because it was written with wit and humor.
An example of what the book has to offer can be found in Chapter 1, which covers the diagnosis and cure for problems of the heart — the heart of the story, that is. The author explains that, in order to make a book one that an editor wants to publish, the writer must have a good story, and he reminds the reader what a story is and that stories go back a long time — even before there was printing.
Perhaps the writer has not discovered the heart of the story, or perhaps he or she needs to rediscover the heart. An example of a cure might be to figure out what the story’s character wants. The chapter has some exercises to complete about the character. For example, the reader fills out the following: “My character wants —“ and “My character definitely does not want —.”
There are other diagnoses and cures as to the heart of the story. The other chapters in Part I deal with the story’s structure — characters, scene, dialogue, point of view and plot.
The chapters in Part II cover revision, some healthy habits for the writer, such as showing up, enduring/accepting rejection, ignoring negativity and finding a voice. The book ends with three basics at the heart of the story cure. This is a great reference book for writers.
“The Story Cure,” copyright 2017, is published by Ten Speed Press, a trademark of Penguin Random House L.L.C. It costs $14.99 in softcover. You can also find this interesting book with other new books at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries.
Stories enrich our lives. We tell them, listen to them, read them, repeat them, write them, watch them on TV, enjoy them in theaters. Stories teach us, entertain us, make us laugh, ease our social situations, and cement our friendships.