Creative Writing Lesson
In this video, Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park and The Book of Mormon) offer a helpful formula on how to write an engaging story. Their secret? If you write an outline of your story, you should put the words, "But" or "Therefore" in between each scene instead of, "And then." Couple bleeps in here, but hey, it's the South Park guys.
What does this look like in action? Let's take a look:
What not to do - Last night, we went to a great restaurant. And then we went to see a movie. And then we got ice cream. And then we came home, watched the news, and then got ready for bed.
There's no twists and turns. No suspense.
"But/Therefore" rule in action - Johnny Cash's "Boy Named Sue" is a great example of the "But/Therefore" rule. Let's take a look:
My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
Therefore... I got made fun of a lot. Therefore I got tough and started fighting back. But I made a vow to hunt down that man who named me Sue. Therefore I went to every bar and saloon to find him. Therefore, when I found him, we got in a big bar fight. But mid-fight he starts smiling, tells me he knew he wasn't gonna be around so, to make me get tough fast, he named me Sue. Therefore I didn't want to fight him anymore. "I got all choked up and I threw down my gun, I called him my pa, and he called me his son." Therefore "I came away with a different point of view." But...
Update on "Oh Mother How Funny"
There's nothing wrong with publishing your book on Amazon. It's fast. User-friendly. And since Amazon does all the printing and shipping, it's pretty stress-free as the author.
But... you don't see the names of who's buying your book. It doesn't feel very personal.
There's something special -- especially as a first-time author -- about running a pre-order promotion and seeing people from your neighborhood order copies. You see people order from your hometown too. People all around the country in your network who saw the post on Facebook. People send in notes of encouragement. Congratulations! They share how excited they are to share the children's book with their kid or grandkid. A little community starts to form around the book.
The first edition travels from the printer in New York to Long Overdue here in Chicago. We celebrate a successful printing and then ship the boxes off to Vicki and Kristie in Minnesota.
Again, not to keep picking on Amazon, but in their standard setup, you don't have much control over the customer/reader experience. Your book shows up in an Amazon box. Like any other package.
You don't have the chance to send out signed copies. And sure, that takes some extra time to do, but it's all part of the fun of releasing your book.
The packaging becomes another opportunity to be creative, building on the themes of the book. Vicki and Kristie created two options for their book, one that was just the book, the other was a gift bundle with a crescent moon plushie they designed. Either way, they wanted the packaging to be special.
The fun continued. Vicki and Kristie went on a Minneapolis radio show to talk about their book and how the idea came together. You can listen to the interview here.
And now that the books are out there, Vicki and Kristie get to enjoy photos coming in from their reader community and, most importantly, a chance to see all the new readers.
There's a quote from Saint Catherine of Siena where she says, "All the way to heaven is heaven."
When creating a book, it doesn't always feel like that. There are definitely some ups and downs. Good days, bad days. But there's always this creative energy moving the project forward from rough draft to final copy. So why not keep that energy going in the editing and publishing process? Keep having fun, keep growing the experience. As the publisher, each step of the way has been heaven with this book and we can't wait to see where the journey goes next.