Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Story Engineering” as Want to Read:
Story Engineering
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Story Engineering

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,243 ratings  ·  223 reviews
What makes a good story or a screenplay great? The vast majority of writers begin the storytelling process with only a partial understanding where to begin. Some labor their entire lives without ever learning that successful stories are as dependent upon good engineering as they are artistry. But the truth is, unless you are master of the form, function and criteria of suc ...more
ebook, 290 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by Writers Digest Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Story Engineering, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Story Engineering

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I went into this book having read the other reviews, so I knew what I was getting. I agree whole-heartedly with a number of things other people have said:

~It drowns itself in metaphors and analogies.

~The author comes off as being hugely egotistical.

~The first 10 -15 % of the book is an infomercial (which seemed unnecessary as I’d already made the purchase).

~In terms of writing craft, there isn’t anything new (which the author freely admits).

However, when all of the above was set aside (unread by
K.M. Weiland
Larry Brooks has long been one of the most respected writing instructors on the Web. Those familiar with his site are already aware of the quality information he churns out week after week and won’t be surprised to learn that his recently released book on “mastering the six core competencies of successful writing” presents more of the same. I read many how-to writing books every year, and I glean something from almost every one of them. But not many offer truly revolutionary ideas about the craf ...more
Laura Kreitzer
Good information, but so repetitive and wordy that I became stressed while reading. The content seems to be geared toward more advanced novelist, but the presentation was clearly meant for newbies or idiots. I say idiots because of how repetitive Brooks becomes. I wished he would have just got to the point in every section. By the end, I was skimming to find the good stuff. If this was redone for authors and, well, people who don't need to have concepts repeatedly drilled into their brain, I'd k ...more
The good:

*Some very interesting, useful explanations of story milestones, with a couple good examples of what he's talking about. It made me think about story architecture in a different way, and I liked a lot of what he had to say. Good food for thought, even when I disagreed.

*A number of good questions to ask yourself about your story and to help you when you're trying to plot it out. I made a copy of the character checklist, for example, to help me flesh out my characters (which I struggle w
Rebecca Berto
Dec 19, 2011 Rebecca Berto rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: novelists & screenwriters
Shelves: best-everrr

Finally, a guide that makes it clear how to lay out a novel and how to plan without having a brain aneurysm (I'm actually going to be a planner and it isn't scary anymore!). I don't know how he has made the process seem so straight-forward, but he has. Don't get me wrong, I've got many weeks ahead of me in re-structuring my manuscript (MS), but now I look forward to it! He's cut down my stress significantly and narrowed the time it would have taken me to fix up my MS.

Larry drills in his "6 Core

Marcy Kennedy
This book is a planner's dream and a pantser's nightmare. Near the end, Brooks writes, "Even if you hate the notion of outlining, you need to realize that it doesn't hate you. There is no downside to outlining that isn't a figment of your imagination" (264). I lead with that because I think it's important for writers to realize that, even though Brooks gives tips for how "organic" writers (his term for writers who write by the seat of their pants) can use his methods, he does advocate a very det ...more
Bottom-Line-Up-Front: STORY ENGINEERING is a great tool that, with some patience on the part of the reader, provides sound guidance for growing a concept into a well-structured first draft. If structure is your only concern, I recommend skipping this book in favor of Brooks's STORY STRUCTURE--DEMYSTIFIED, which consists mainly of the structure portion of STORY ENGINEERING, not quite cut-and-pasted, but pretty close.
Brooks's guidance on structure was most useful to me, so I'll focus on that in th
On the one hand, this book kind of stinks, because apparently, Brooks thinks he needs to advertise for his method and the book every few paragraphs, which...if you weren't interested, you wouldn't be reading, would you? Right to the very end of the book, he's pushing his method of story execution and pointing out that not planning ahead of time will sink your novel or screenplay. Um, if I made it to page 270, I didn't need to be reminded of that for the two-hundred sixtieth time; clearly, I'm in ...more
Larry Brooks describes the Six Core Competencies as a model that encapsulates all facets of fiction writing. He groups them up into six competencies (categories): [Story] Concept, Theme, [Story] Structure, Character, Scene Execution, Writing Voice. They are interrelated, overlaying/underlaying each other, working together, working off each other, etc, etc, etc. In order to write a great story (and have a chance a publishing career), a writer must ensure all six must be executed with some level o ...more
This book is recommended all the time during NaNoWriMo, which is precisely why I read it. And yes, in the end it was worth it. But holy cow. If you stripped this book down to it's useful parts, you would probably have about 10 pages. It was astonishing having to skip page after page, in a writing book no less, just to get to Larry Brooks' actual point. He would take a page to hint at some important writing element, and then spend another 5 repeating how totally important said element is because ...more
David Fuller
This warrants a longer review, but for now, I'll say, this book is a godsend for writers whether they know they need to study structure or not.
But as a committed "pantser" for many years, I found I could revise and revise and improve and improve a draft, but not reconcile what I was discovering about my novels with a final version. I could solve micro problems like description, setting, character motivation, and the all-important "tension on every page" with varying levels of success, but it di
Sarah Hipple
This book came highly recommended for anyone who wants to write a book. And, I have to say, that I did think there were some really useful pieces of information in here, and it was definitely worth a read for anyone who wants to write a book. That's why I went with 4 stars in the end.

I feel like I need to rate two completely different aspects of this book. I will give the positive first.
This book gets 4-5 stars for the fact that Larry Brooks breaks down very important elements of books and analy
D. Thrush
This book is an invaluable tool for any indie or beginning writer. It explains the milestones and benchmarks that move a story forward and how to keep your readers reading. I’m sure many of us writers innately and intuitively already structure our stories along these lines, however, this will help you improve the structure of your story right from the start. It will help you to write more intentionally rather than gambling that it will all pay off. It will help you understand why something isn’t ...more
Katherine Owen
4.5 stars This is an excellent resource for writers (beginning or otherwise) if you are in need of more structure in your storyline. I loved the concepts behind the idea of story structure, however, I was really hoping for some sort of graphical representation. I needed that in order to grasp what Brooks was trying to teach in the way of story concepts.

Update: Re-read the book and that helped clarify some of the concepts I missed the first time.
Camela Thompson
Jul 04, 2014 Camela Thompson rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers, particularly commercial fiction
The concept and material get a 5. I had the privilege of sitting in a class taught by Larry Brooks at Write on the River in Wenatchee, WA. I was so taken in by the information he was presenting that I went back to my hotel room and purchased this book. He is wicked smart and the six core competencies were something I could get behind. Throughout the class I found myself nodding my head in agreement, and I had that same feeling as I went through the book. Already the material has helped me. I was ...more
Carrie Rubin
Without a doubt, the most practical book on writing I've read thus far. Pantsers may find it too formulaic, but my left brain appreciated the structural breakdown the author provides. Highly recommend it.
Jan 06, 2014 Brittany rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring writers with a modicum of talent
How I Came To Read This Book: Toward the end of last year, I decided to research a few writing books and this one came out as highly regarded amongst GoodReaders, so I bought it.

The Plot: The gist of the book covers ‘Six Core Competencies’ every writer must master in hopes of being published, and ideally, commercially successful. Those areas include concept, character, theme and perhaps most critically – based on page count alone – structure, as well as scene construction and writing voice. Each
Tim Johnson
I was initially going to write this review solely to dispute everything Mr. Brooks says in his book. Why? Because he frustrated me by taking forever to get into the meat of the subject at hand. I already have the book in hand, you don't have to sell me. I also seem to pick up a bit of a condescending attitude or maybe I am just inappropriately applying a tone of voice that isn't there.

I don't disagree with everything in the book, okay? There, I said it. There is way more analogy than is necessar
So. Many. Analogies.
So much complaining about 'pantsers' (would pantsers even read a book about story-planning? It'd be like a vegan reading a book on various ways to cook a beef, or…wait… OH GOD, THE ANALOGIES HAVE GOTTEN TO ME.)

The informative parts of the book are useful but i would not recommend trying to read it straight through. Much too easy to lose focus on the intended goal of becoming a better writer: There are entire pages (in at least one place, an entire chapter) which are nothing
Apr 20, 2013 Michael rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers with low self esteem
Recommended to Michael by: Nerine Dorman
Somewhere, lost within this disorganized mess of an instructional book, is the kernel of a Good Idea. About 70 pages, stuck for no reason 2/3 of the way in, explore this Idea in detail. Said pages are summarized nicely at the end. There’s also maybe another couple dozen pages that are worth reading, scattered at unpredictable intervals amidst the other 220. And then there’s the rest of the book.

When he was in school, someone probably told Brooks that good nonfiction is about presenting an argume
Mindi Rosser
Have you ever wondered how a captivating story is constructed? I learned the Six Core Competencies to novel/screenplay writing from master storyteller, Larry Brooks. Whether you are a reader or a writer, you'll enjoy my take on this book.

Six Core Competencies - One tidbit from each.

Concept - Not simply an idea. It is an idea that has beenevolved to be compelling and capable of sustaining an entire novel.

Character -Every story needs a hero. The hero(ine) does not need to be likable, but the reade
J.L. Campbell
In Story Engineering, Larry Brooks advocates outlining, and I can’t say enough good things about that subject. Brooks believes that there are certain aspects of writing that we need to master before we can plan and execute a compelling story. The six ‘core competencies’ embraced in Story Engineering are character, concept, scene execution, structure, theme and writing voice.

Those of us who write are familiar with the meanings of the terms above. Brooks takes time to explain each and how they wo
Adam David Collings
Before I read Story Engineering, I though I knew how to write a novel. I was wrong. Story Engineering opened my eyes to things I didn't know that I didn't know. Larry Brooks' 6 core competencies show you exactly what you need to develop in order to become a publishable author.

The section I found most helpful was on story structure. Now I know the shape that publishers expect a story to fall into. It doesn't restrict your creativity as some might think, I have found, as Larry suggested it would,
Kait Nolan
So here's the thing I have learned as a teacher. Part of your job is to explain things repeatedly, in as many different ways as possible, until your audience understands whatever concept you're trying to teach them. This is something I often struggle with, as I tend to understand things intuitively in a "Yeah, you know, it's like...and stuff..." kind of way. My math teachers in grade school used to think I was cheating because I didn't show my work. I did it all in my head. On a professional lev ...more
As an engineer who is interested in stories and how they're written, I couldn't NOT read this book. The angle is a really good one, and I believe that a lot of storytelling could be done better if it were viewed from an engineering standpoint, because there really are similarities and certain things humans look for in narratives that cause the story to be bad if they're missing or done poorly. The author, Larry Brooks, lays out a fairly clear breakdown of storytelling into four elements to inclu ...more
We were always told in English Lit. that good writing isn't something you can be taught, its just an innate skill, a gift, a calling. They'd tell you the same thing in art class, but I'm pretty sure they still explained about the basics of light and shading. In english class I can't even recall being taught basic sentence structure and grammar, its just assumed you pick these things up as you go along. And as far as writing a novel goes, apparently you just have to randomly become a genius and g ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Right. As much as I want to be inspired as a writer, I also want to use the analytical side of my brain. That's right. I write from BOTH sides of my brain. I use pantsing and plotting techniques: I outline, then I abandon the outline as I go, then I re-outline, etc. I analyze other people's stories. I break down where movies let me down and try to work out how I would fix that. I abandon my analysis when things work for me and just say, "Good job." I cry, I laugh, I make disgusted faces, I shive ...more
I am reviewing the book "Story Engineering" by Larry Brooks.

This is a must book to read if you are a writer. I have completed my first book and was uncertain how ready it was. This book showed me how I was not. It breaks down the book into 6 components. There are four elemental competencies which include concept, character, theme and story(plot). There are two executional competencies which include scene construction and writing voice.The book breaks into great detail on how to accomplish each.
Rose Marcie
Are you kidding me? This has to be one of the most bipolar reviews around. I love the book and the Larry's ideas, however you do need some serious zen to tide over all the analogies, most of them unnecessary. I was warned about this by the other reviews, but decided to try the book. I am not disappointed by what I learnt. Thankfully I think if you love writing stories, I am sure you will be using many of these ideas (probably without being able to put a name to it or a structure to it).

This is t
Moira Katson
This is going to be the weirdest 5-star review I've ever written.

The main takeaway is that if you want to be writing, you should read this book. I really think you should, and I'm someone who went into this book with extreme skepticism.

I wrote an extended second paragraph filled with examples that made me want to throw this book at the wall, but have decided simply to say this: if tempted to do so, for whatever reason, grit your teeth and keep going. It will be worth it. Also, if you're using an
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great
  • Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
  • Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
  • Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore
  • Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer
  • Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
  • Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books And How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
  • Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence
  • The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Getting the Words Right
  • GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction
  • The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling Darkness Bound Bait and Switch Serpent's Dance Pressure Points

Share This Book

“Instinct is the elusive magic that happens when art collides with hard-won craft.” 2 likes
“THE SEVEN KEY CHARACTERIZATION VARIABLES Think of these as realms, as areas of potential character illumination. Here they are, in no particular order: Surface affectations and personality—What the world sees and perceives about a character, including quirks, ticks, habits, and visual presentation. Backstory—All that happened in the character’s life before the story begins that conspires to make him who he is now. Character arc—How the character learns lessons and grows (changes) over the course of the story, how she evolves and conquers her most confounding issues. Inner demons and conflicts—The nature of the issues that hold a character back and define his outlook, beliefs, decisions, and actions. Fear of meeting new people, for example, is a demon that definitely compromises one’s life experience. Worldview—An adopted belief system and moral compass; the manifested outcome of backstory and inner demons. Goals and motivations—What drives a character’s decisions and actions, and the belief that the benefits of those decisions and actions outweigh any costs or compromises. Decisions, actions, and behaviors—The ultimate decisions and actions that are the sum of all of the above. Everything about your characters depends on this final variable, and the degree to which the character’s decisions, actions, and behaviors have meaning and impact depends on how well you’ve manipulated the first six variables before, during, and after the moment of decision or action.” 0 likes
More quotes…