S2/E34: Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horwitz
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
A little about Stuart Horwitz (quoting his web site, BookArchitecture.com):
“As founder and principal of Book Architecture, Stuart has spent over fifteen years helping writers become authors, signing with top literary agencies, sealing deals with coveted publishing houses, or forging a successful path through indie publishing. Book Architecture’s clients have reached the New York Times best-seller list in both fiction and non-fiction, and have appeared on Oprah!, The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and in the most prestigious journals in their respective fields… Stuart is an award-winning essayist and poet, who has toured the Book Architecture Method through over seventy venues in North America and taught writing at Grub Street of Boston and Brown University. He holds two masters degrees—one in Literary Aesthetics from NYU, which helps him a lot with this work—and one in East Asian Studies from Harvard with a concentration in Medieval Japanese Buddhism, which helps him get out of bed in the morning. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife and two daughters.” www.bookarchitecture.com
The Book Architecture approach combines academic theories along with his years of experience as an editor and book coach into a unique approach to “plot, structure, process and revision.” There are three books in the Book Architecture trilogy:
According to the intro of Blueprint Your Bestseller, the Book Architecture Method has three main concepts. Seems as good a way as any to share my …
1. It’s about the Scene, silly. According to Horwitz, “Scenes are the building blocks of your work.” Thinking of your work this way, dividing it into chunks will make it easier to see how they need to be moved around, eliminated, expanded, etc. And you can see where you’re missing pieces and exactly the size and shape that’s needed to fit into your story.
2. Series: Think Both Repetition and Variation. Horwitz says that “anything that repeats and varies in your work can be considered a series: a character as he or she evolves, a relationship that has its ups and downs, an object that becomes a symbol.” A narrative arc is basically just tracking the changes in these series.
3. All in the Service of Theme. This is the heart of your book. The thing that it’s about. Without this central organizing principle, your story becomes a series of events without meaning.
“I must ask you one favor. When the desire to write seizes you while reading this book – to craft a new scene whose possibilities announce themselves to your imagination, or to reinvest in a shaky scene with renewed sparkle and purpose – please put this book down and do so. Planning such as this gives you questions – more refined questions, perhaps – but it is only the writing itself that will give you any answers.” Stuart Horwitz
Horwitz views underscores the “Method” part of Book Architecture Method. It isn’t a formula. In fact, he sees the heart of his own book this way:
“This method is designed to invite a collaboration with active writing. Inspiring you to write – and to finish what you write – is this book’s only purpose.” Stuart Horwitz
HACK: Beta Readers
The final chapter of the book features a guide for Beta Readers. I don’t feel like it’s fair to the author list all the questions contained in that section, but here is a sampler (quoting directly below):
What scenes do you remember from the book you just read?
What is the one thing that this work is about?
With each given scene, how close to or far from the theme does it belong?
I hope this was helpful! Next episode (November 5, 2020) I’ll bring you comparisons of The Author’s Checklist: An Agent’s Guide to Developing and Editing Your Manuscript by Elizabeth K. Kracht, The Indie Author Checklist: From Concept to Launch and Beyond by Adam Croft, and Fearless Author: Prepare, Publish, and Launch Your Own Book by Ashley Emma.
IN OTHER DAIR-RELATED NEWS:
Fellow author Robin Knabel and I recently posted a new episode of our podcast, Unsettling Reads. Come check out our spoiler-free review of The Amazon Dark Corners Collection. Visit www.UnsettlingReads.com to browse our other reviews of books from the crime, fantasy, horror, literary, mystery, sci-fi, suspense, and thriller genres. And a reminder to look for Robin’s short story in the summer issue of The Raven Review!
Until then. . .
Go vote, people!