This week’s Monday book comes courtesy of Paul Garrett
I once had the opportunity to observe the construction of a high-rise apartment as I drove by the site once a month. The first time I went by they had cleared the lot. The next month they had begun to dig a hole. The next month the hole got bigger, the next month bigger still. Finally, after several months a concrete column appeared. After that, the building went up rather quickly. I often use this anecdote as an analogy for my writing students to emphasize the importance of building a strong foundation for their work.
In her newly released (September, 2021) book, Jennie Nash, the guru behind Author Accelerator, where they train people to coach aspiring authors, is also a strong proponent of laying the groundwork for one’s opus. That’s why she has produced her Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel from the Inside Out. With decades of coaching experience (She coached, among others, Lisa Cron on both her books.) She lays out a step-by step process to take the prospective author from the germ of an idea to a completed manuscript.
Blueprint for a Book is also the title of her Author Accelerator curriculum and could serve as a companion for her popular course, which is how I us it. (Full, disclosure I am a student of the course) or it could serve as a standalone guide. She avoids the jargon that many writing teachers use to show how smart they are; words like “premise,” “theme” “logline,” and “character arc” to make the material a little more accessible to the novice, but the experienced writer will find much to interest her as well.
Ms. Nash focuses on planning the novel and on the often overlooked but vitally important minutia of novel writing, whose neglect may be responsible for many of those unfinished and unpublished manuscripts languishing in drawers and on hard drives. Her best innovation is her “Inside Outline.” a way to marry the story and character arcs throughout the book for a more coherent narrative.
While the material seems tailor-made for the plotter, it may be confounding the pantser, who’s chomping at the bit to get it on paper. But the exercises can be helpful even after a rough draft is finished.
Whether just beginning your story, going into revision, or stuck in the middle, Blueprint for a Book can offer writers a helping hand.