I feel like I’ve read a litany of books ‘on writing’ which sometimes (not always) contain brief sections on editing and revision, which is a little ironic or misguided because as I’m sure most of you have realized too, as much of the ‘hard part’ of writing a novel is finishing a novel, the next ‘part’ of editing, revision and rewriting is just as if not more grueling and difficult. (there is a reason there is a myriad of editing services out there)
Blueprint Your Bestseller is the first non-fiction piece I’ve read exclusively for editing and I confess I experienced a big of dumb realization that there is likely a whole sub-category of ‘on writing’ books that I have yet to experience – suffice to say if you’re like me and haven’t dived into books specifically on editing give it some consideration…
Not going to ramble on for a whole post, some of the really useful and interesting points Horwitz made in regards to writing were:
- Have a single theme/thesis/premise
Horwitz called this the theme but I think this could be misleading to some writers. One key point which I agree with is that even a novel length work needs a key premise or point. The point doesn’t haven to cover every detail of the story (obviously that is the point of the whole book) but just a relatively clear point to it all, which ties everything together and provides a sense of purpose to the tale.
While a novel might have one theme, Horwitz argued that the story would have multiple subplots. (although again he doesn’t use the term subplot his exact phrase escapes me right this second). The interesting thing about Horwitz’s approach is that each subplot doesn’t have to be complicated or dense, in fact his method of organizing content is about simplifying plot ‘movements’ to make sense of what changes and what stays the same across moments or scenes in the story.
What I found particularly interesting about that point is that writers are often told to keep moving their story forward, and this can create a sense of pressure to keep having things happen in their story. However when one acknowledges the multiple subplots of their tale one can better craft what changes and what doesn’t, for example a romantic subplot of an action story might not change in every scene so it can be useful to pinpoint which moments the romance happens.
Finally Horwitz recommends collecting around 99 (on average) scenes per novel – in terms of editing his method basically describes cross-matching your scenes to subplots and determining where movement happens or doesn’t.
As a conclusion Horwitz also offers some interesting advice on scene transitions and types of story resolutions.
Blueprinting your Bestseller is very much about the overarching structure of the story, e.g. making sure that you have the right scenes in the right order. The thesis is relatively short but useful and highly recommended for writers!