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The Extra Squeeze Team: Writing Books and Story Structure

November 30, 2019 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , , ,

Dear Extra Squeeze Team,

We have two questions this month.

Question #1: Do you like books on writing? What are your three favorite books on writing?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

Here are my three favorite books on the craft of writing. I love what these writers have to say… and how they think… and the encouragement they offer. Two of these books I first read decades ago…and, just to be sure, I re-read them this year and still love the breathless excitement and the truths they provide.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Ueland
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book by Guy Kawasaki
Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels: How to Write and Sell Fiction for Young People by Phyllis A. Whitney

BONUS ROUND. Books on writing are important…BUT, here are my four favorite books on surviving the decision to become a writer. Each of these share something that for many writers will be more important than honing the craft of writing or studying the specific industry know-how. Spoiler Alert: Believe in yourself and your dream…don’t give up on yourself no matter how many times you are rejected…be aware that the road less traveled is frightening but worth the effort. And, please don’t wait for someone else to make your dream happen for you…you just gotta do it yourself.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
The Missing Piece Meets the Big O by Shel Silverstein

H. O. Charles | A Slice of Orange

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array

Is it really shameful that I’ve never read a book on writing? Oh dear, it probably is, isn’t it?!! I’m going to hide over here in the Naughty Writers’ corner and let the others take this one…

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

I must confess, I have never read a book on writing. I have never taken a class. My education came through the school of hard knocks (editors doing the knocking) and osmosis because I am an avid reader.

Question #2: My critique partner keeps yammering on about story structure? Do I HAVE to follow a formula?

Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.

No, you do not.  Likewise, you do not have to write books other people will read and you do not have to create work that is anywhere near commercially viable. Your critique partner is trying to alert you to the alarming way your work is turning out. Your story may ramble and wander about. Your work probably lacks the structure needed to give readers the experience they demand.  What can you do? Start by exploring the notion that story structure and formula are not exactly the same thing, and neither are evil. I think formulas can provide an important illumination for your chosen genre. If you are a new writer, following a proven formula can allow you to lean on something that works while you develop your skillsets. Structure is a different kind of thing.  It is a design requirement to make sure your work has the scaffolding needed to support a reader. Like an architect designing any building, writers must accept that writing projects require a certain framework to function. So formula is like building a line of cookie cutter houses. Structure is the engineering rules you follow that allows iconic buildings and cookie cutter houses to stand up at all.  All to say: listen a little more to the critique partner and explore what you are being told.

The advice about structure that your critique partner is yammering about is a must if you want to be a successful writer.

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

There are no hard and fast rules in art, but there is a reason why successful novelists pay attention to structure. Think of your manuscript as a maze. It is your job to guide the reader through it to a satisfying conclusion. If you decide to have some fun and lead them down paths that are confusing and unrecognizable, there is a good chance they won’t play your game because you’re making them work too hard. Instead, they will find someone who weaves a structured tale. So, ask yourself what is important: pushing a tried and true envelope for the sake of an artistic fling or gaining a loyal audience?

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September Online Class

August 26, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , , ,

“Deep Story Structure & Techniques” with Carol Hughes

September 10 – October 7, 2012

COST: $20 for OCCRWA members, $30 for non-members
If you have specific questions, email occrwaonlineclass@yahoo.com 


What does Nora Roberts, Stephen King, George Lucas (STAR WARS), Stephen Spielberg (E.T.) and all of those other blockbuster creators know about writing that makes them the mega stars that they are?

Learn about the 18 scenes that every story contains, no matter its length or genre.  Find out how to identify your character’s mental gender and what impact that has upon readers.  Discover how your character’s arc drives your story and how your story drives your character’s arc.  Learn the four throughlines of every story and how to weave them together.

Every successful story contains characters who come alive for the reader.  Every successful story is built on a solid, easy-to-master, story structure that works every single time.  Every successful story lives on in the hearts and minds of readers because their authors have mastered the simple secrets needed to turn them into writing super stars.  And you can, too.


Writer/director/producer Carol Hughes has been a driving force behind some of Hollywood’s most financially successful media franchises.  Carol was the studios’ “go to person” when it came to helping her fellow writers turn their uncut diamonds of rough stories into some of Hollywood’s most memorable and financially successful projects.  Over the years, her projects generated in excess of $1 billion in profits for both the studios and the leading Networks.

Now she enjoys writing and working with her fellow novelists by sharing the powerful secret writing techniques and tricks behind some of Hollywood most successful films and television series that had made her a much sought after story development consultant and writer for so many years.

Enrollment Information:

COST: $20 for OCCRWA members, $30 for non-members

Coming in October 2012: Conquering National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with Alison Diem

Challenge yourself.  This course is designed to help both new and veteran participants understand the NaNoWriMo program and use it to push their careers forward.

Check out our full list of workshop at http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html

Want to be notified personally two weeks before each class? Be sure you’re signed up for our Online Class Notices Yahoo Group! Sign up at the bottom of http://www.occrwa.org/onlineclasses.html or send a blank email to OCCRWAOnlineClassNotices-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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