Writing a novel or screenplay sounds like a fabulous idea. But where do you start? And how do you finish? Award-winning author, Amy Deardon, answers these questions in The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This approach will help you focus your creativity and complete your unique and compelling story, script, or novel. With this tool and more than 100 targeted writing exercises, you will learn to: AAscertain the four foundational story pillars, and use the "secret weapon" of the story template, to structure your story. BBuild character depth with believable change. CCreate subplots to raise tension while you deepen and contrast story themes. RReview writing techniques that shape your ideas into a compelling manuscript. The Story Template is a product of Amy's comprehensive research-as well as her personal experience-for what makes a story "work." No matter your level of accomplishment, this book will help you build a better story."
Of the topics Deardon covers, story structure and character development interest me the most, so those were the sections I paid the most attention to. Perhaps other authors have described the model of four story pillars that are the foundation of her story template—plot, character, moral, and story world—but this was the first time I'd come upon all of them organized like this, and how they're the combination of the inner and outer stories with the concrete and the abstract. This alone didn't get the book the high rating I gave it, but it's a major part of it. Her "story strands" were also new to me, and I think they'd be a useful way of keeping track of subplots.
Books on writing often include exercises, as does this one. Unlike many of them, though, the "exercises" in The Story Template are more like guided instructions for working up your own novel or screenplay, rather than small practice pieces. This approach appeals to me, although I'm guessing it will seem too rigid for people who prefer to do their writing intuitively—but then, if you really don't like the idea of outlining your novel, you're probably not planning on reading this book anyway. For those who do like outlining and structuring their novels/screenplays before writing, The Story Template is a clear explanation of one way to do that, and it has earned a spot on my overflowing bookshelves.