The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 8: Discussing “Story Genius” by Lisa Cron)

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Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This episode will cover Lisa Cron’s second dive into the reader’s brain, Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere). Her first dive, Wired for Story, is probably also worth reading, but I haven’t read it, nor do I own it yet (as of this writing), so I cannot comment on it. But Story Genius, I can comment on plenty, and if you check out this video, you can see me commenting on it plenty.

Hope you’ll check them both out.

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)

Lisa Cron

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 288 pages

·  ISBN-10: 9781607748892

·  ISBN-13: 978-1607748892

·  Publisher: Ten Speed Press; 1st Edition (August 9, 2016)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

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Using Scrivener for NaNoWriMo 2020

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short, is right around the corner. Chances are, if you plan to participate this year, you’ve already started getting your materials together. But my question for you is, have you decided how you’re going to write your novel?

“Er, I’ll probably type it. How else would I do it?”

Okay, not exactly the answer to my question. Of course you’ll type it. But will you type it in Microsoft Word, Scrivener, or some other software? Do you plan to write it on your desktop or laptop? Or will you pull an E. L. James and type it on your phone while sitting by a pool (in November, mind you)?

Well, if you plan to type on Microsoft Word, a dedicated fiction app, or your window of great distraction (phone), I can’t help you. But if you plan to type it on Scrivener…

Well, I’ve got a template you might like.

It’s my NaNoWriMo Basic Template, which I created last year for my work-in-progress Washed Up: A Pirate Adventure, and you can now download it directly from Drinking Café Latte at 1pm. In fact, you can check it out, along with some of my other templates, right here on my new writing template page. If you see anything else you like (and the list will be very small as of this writing), all you have to do is click the link, read the full description to make sure it’s right for you, then click the download (from Google Drive, if that matters).

Then after you try it out, come back to the description page and leave a comment letting me know what you think.

Hope it works out for you.

So without further ado, jump on over the new templates page and give it a try. And if you want, check out my other Scrivener template, Story Planning General (still a work-in-progress), if you like obsessive planning and complete from-scratch-to-published design work (read: insanity). It’s another way to bring your story from idea to “What Have I Done?” status.

Once again, if you want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, check out my Scrivener template, NaNoWriMo Basic Template. It’s good stuff.

Planning a Story: Campfire Pro vs. Campfire Blaze

Remember the days when hunters would sit around a campfire inside a cave and tell each other ghost stories while waiting for the bears to leave camp? Yeah, me neither. But the good people at Campfire Technology haven’t forgotten. In fact, they’ve created not one, but two writing apps that can help recreate that lost storytelling moment, in a manner of speaking.

Okay, they’ve actually created one, Campfire Pro, then used it as a template to create the other, Campfire Blaze. But both apps, which are basically desktop and cloud versions of the same tool, can do a lot for your story planning. Probably more than most, actually.

And that’s why they’re worth a look.

Screenshot from the Characters tab in Campfire Pro

Screenshot from the Home tab in Campfire Blaze

But what can they do? How do they differ? Why are they worth it? I’ll highlight their key points below.

What They Do:

Both apps allow the user to create a vision board of attributes for:

  • Characters
  • Character Relationships
  • Character Arcs
  • Timelines
  • Worldbuilding Elements
  • Maps
  • Encyclopedia Entries
  • And More

What They Don’t Do:

  • Bring Order to Chaos*

*This is my snarky way of saying that the interface for both applications is quite messy and may require some handholding via their instruction manuals before diving in.

How They Differ:

Both apps do more or less the same things, but:

  • Campfire Pro is desktop only
  • Campfire Pro is legacy software, meaning it won’t receive new updates beyond bug fixes
  • Campfire Pro has a one-time charge of $50, plus $25 for the world-building pack should you want it (and you do)
  • Campfire Blaze adds a writing tool (so you can actually write your novel)
  • Campfire Blaze is module-based, meaning you only pay for what you’ll use
  • Campfire Blaze works in the cloud, so you can use it anywhere
  • Campfire Blaze has team and spectator modes for collabs
  • Campfire Blaze has a nice overview screen for progress reports
  • Campfire Blaze is subscription-based, with the option for a lifetime purchase (at the three-year price point)

I’m sure I’m leaving things out, but it’s worth taking a look at what each app has to offer. You can check them both out at Campfire Technology.

Screenshot of “Manage Attributes” under the Character Traits selection in Campfire Blaze

My Thoughts about Whether They’re Worth It:

I like what both apps bring to the table. Even though Campfire Pro is made strictly for story planning and world building, the amount of elements it allows you to customize or develop is practically unrivaled among all other writing apps, with its only worthy competitors being its successor, Campfire Blaze, and probably World Anvil, which I have not personally tried but hear is quite robust as a world builder.

Campfire Blaze takes everything that Campfire Pro can do and makes it better, especially the character and location builders. For example, Campfire Pro has four default categories for developing characters. You can add more, but it comes with four. Campfire Blaze comes with a complete flowchart of attributes, probably as many as a hundred, that you can select and populate, then answer inside of the resultant fields. It’s crazy in a good way. Most everything that Campfire Pro does competently, Campfire Blaze tries to improve on, especially in the user interface.

Except one.

Except with timelines.

Timelines in Campfire Pro are tricky to navigate.

Timelines in Campfire Blaze are ridiculous and the kinds of things the Codebreakers of WWII would’ve had trouble figuring out.

I don’t like it.

Not at all.

That’s my main gripe with either Campfire program, but especially with Campfire Blaze.

Screenshot of the Timeline tab in Campfire Pro
Screenshot of a timeline entry in Campfire Pro

Now, it should be mentioned that Campfire Pro is a legacy program, so it won’t get any new additions or updates. Campfire Blaze is essentially its successor, so any new features that Campfire Anything gets, it’ll go to Blaze. So, if you’re interested in either program, you’ll probably want Blaze, but you’ll also want to preview the instructions to make sure you understand how to use it. As far as user learning curves go, Campfire Pro and Blaze sit below Scrivener, but stand above most everything else on the market. Neither one is particularly easy to use, and unless your imagination is wild, I can’t imagine you jumping in without feeling a little overwhelmed by their available options. But if you want a program that really goes above and beyond the norm, I don’t think you’d do wrong with either Pro or Blaze. The choice comes down to how much you’re willing to spend.

Note: Campfire’s selling point above other apps is its world-building features. If you’re in the market for a story development tool but just want one, you should really take a look at its world-building tools before committing to a purchase of any writing app. It may be the game-changer you’re looking for.

Note 2: Because Campfire Blaze is coming out of beta as of this writing, it will still have a few missing or unfinished features (including the research and writing modules). The open beta will be ongoing until the end of October, so there’s still time to check it out for free. If you buy Campfire Pro before Blaze officially launches in November, you’ll also get three months of Blaze free and one module of your choice permanently free (I’d go with the character designer personally). If you already own Campfire Pro, then you’ll get a free module for however many years you’ve had it (so, one module for 2020, two for 2019, and three for 2018).

Note 3: Campfire sometimes has affiliate deals with ProWritingAid and other writer resources for deep discounts. You just have to be subscribed their newsletters to get the offer. You should sign up for any newsletter you can in the indie writer space so you don’t miss anything.

Note 4: I’ve also recorded a comparison video showing off both apps on my YouTube channel here.

Note 5: Don’t forget to like, subscribe, and comment your thoughts below.

Screenshot of the Relationship Web in Campfire Blaze

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 7: Discussing “Hooked” by Les Edgerton)

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Imagine this: You’re meeting the love of your life for the very first time today, but you don’t yet realize s(he) is the love of your life. At best, you’re hopeful that something good will come of this first date, so you prepare for the best case scenario. You put on your best clothes. You dress yourself in whatever accessories, confections, or other aids will help you make your best first impression. You prepare yourself to the best of your ability. You want this person to like you, so you want to make sure you don’t waste the opportunity to keep her/him coming back for a second round.

The art of the first impression is not just good for dating, but it’s also good for storytelling.

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This episode will cover Les Edgerton’s educational opus on how to properly open your novel, Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go.

This book will talk everything openings, and this video will talk some things Hooked.

Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go

Les Edgerton

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 256 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1582974578

·  ISBN-13: 978-1582974576

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books; 5/30/07 Edition (April 12, 2007)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 6: Discussing “Story Trumps Structure” by Steven James)

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There’s an age-old question in the writing community: Are you a plotter or a pantser? When a random stranger approaches you at Walmart, carrying a garden rake and a bag of dog food, and he or she asks you this question, what do you say?

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This episode will cover Steven James’s excellent guide on how to pants your way to victory, Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules.

If you love writing but hate plotting, then check out this book, and check out this video based on this book.

Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules

Steven James

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 304 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599636514

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599636511

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (May 27, 2014)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 5: Discussing “Story Fix” by Larry Brooks)

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Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This episode will cover Larry Brooks’s final installment in his Story Fix Trilogy, Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant.

You’ve written a novel. It kinda sucks. You wish you knew what went wrong. This book will help you figure that out (and give you some tips on how to fix it).

And this video will tell you more about it.

Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant

Larry Brooks

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 232 pages

·  ISBN-10: 1599639114

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599639116

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (October 19, 2015)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.

The Writer’s Bookshelf: Recommended References and Writing Resources (Episode 4: Discussing “Story Physics” by Larry Brooks)

Title Image for The Writer’s Bookshelf Episode 4

Welcome back to The Writer’s Bookshelf. This episode will cover Larry Brooks’s second installment in his Story Fix Trilogy, Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling.

Have you written a novel that seems . . . underwhelming? Maybe you need to check for its pulse. This book will teach you how to do that and revive it.

And this video will discuss whether it’s right for you.

Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling

Larry Brooks

Website

Amazon Metadata:

·  Paperback: 256 pages

·  ISBN-10: 9781599636894

·  ISBN-13: 978-1599636894

·  Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books (June 18, 2013)

Check out other entries in the Writer’s Bookshelf series here.

Don’t forget to like, subscribe, comment, and do all of the things that convince me you like this kind of information and want more like it.