I’m currently rereading a wonderful writing book called “Story Structure: The Key to Successful Fiction” by William Bernhardt.
Bernhardt is the prolific and successful author of the Ben Kincaid series and over a dozen other books, including five on novel writing. He is precise, literate and highly insightful. What interests me most about Bernhardt, however, is this – he understands how to communicate what he knows about writing!
Bernhardt’s books and workshops teach the students and readers he calls the Red Sneaker Writers how to plot, outline, create conflict, maintain suspense, and develop motivated and memorable characters. Based on my experience so far, his methods are both illuminating and practical.
In the intro to “Story Structure” Bernhardt says:
Here in the Red Sneaker universe, we strip away the pretense and abstractions that do more to complicate writing than to illuminate it. In the Red Sneaker School, we provide down-to-earth advice designed to improve the quality of your work.
This could not be more accurate!
Leaving out the lengthy cut and paste quotations employed in most writing books, “Story and Structure” clearly explains the elements of fiction in terms of structure, act, scene, inciting incident, and classical storytelling. When examples are needed, Bernhardt references his own and other works without reproducing them.
This means that the examples provided are helpful without being tedious – or largely unnecessary. If you’re a serious novelist, you’ll probably already be familiar with many of these books. If you’re not familiar, Bernhardt gives just enough info to make the examples work – and offers some great ideas for your ongoing reading list.
Most significantly, however, Bernhardt tell us how to apply the structural elements of fiction he presents to our own work in an understandable and very effective way.
“Story Structure” is geared toward helping the writer begin a new writing project. Having ditched most of the writing I did before becoming a Christian in 2017 and am beginning my first work of Christian fiction, this now includes me!
“Story Structure” is the first book in Bernhardt’s concise but highly focused five volume Red Sneakers writing series. Please check back as I review the next four volumes!