I’m a sucker for an analytical way of breaking down story structure. Since I outline more than most, I like to have a story broken down and built up again multiple ways. I now have about eight steps in my outlining process, each of which adds twists, character depth, and world building.
So I should be the ideal audience for Story Grid, as it emphasises the importance of structure in books. And, for the most part, I enjoyed reading it and picked up a few tips.
However, the book does fall down in a number of places that frustrated me. The author mentions that every genre has obligatory scenes that the reader needs to see. However, other than a few examples, there isn’t a list of those scenes.
The author also breaks down The Silence of the Lambs and uses it as the example for every part of the book. Which starts to feel a little tired. The book would have benefited from more examples than one. Granted, it’s probably a lot of work to break a book down like that, but I felt like there should have been half a dozen examples across multiple genres.
My other criticism of the book would be the focus on the thriller genre, to the exclusion of all others. It felt a little like the author was discounting the other genres as being a waste of time, or irrelevant. I’ve read Silence of the Lambs and didn’t enjoy it all that much. Of course, I’m not a fan of crime, so I didn’t really expect to.
The book triggered a lot of thoughts in my own head on how to approach the subject. It is an interesting idea, breaking down the book into obligatory scenes and filling in the gaps. It feels like with some work, it would make the outlining process a lot easier. However, there’s a lot more groundwork that needs to be done before that happens.
Overall, I give Story Grid 3/5 stars (4/5 on Amazon). It’s a good starting point, if you enjoy outlining books and want to see a different approach. However, it will require more leg-work to apply to anything other than a thriller.
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