14. May 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: writing · Tags:

I admire John Truby. He’s a sreenwriter, director and teaches screenwriting. He’s consulted on over (it says) 1,000 scripts.

But when he starts bad mouthing the standard three-act structure just to sell his own classes, I take exception.

He’s written a piece at Raindance.org that says, essentially, that adhering to the three-act structure will kill your writing. Actually, the title of his article/post/advertisement is


Doesn’t mince words, does he?

At the bottom of the piece there’s the obligatory “John Truby has brought his acclaimed “Anatomy Of Story Class” to Raindance London since 1995.”

And if you want to take the enlightened view of story anatomy it will set you back £393.60

The thing is, Truby’s twenty-two building blocks map extremely well to the three act structure.

how-and-why-truby-blocksHe writes as if a writer following the three act structure only has two pivot points. That they have one-dimensional characters. That such a writer, limiting themselves to a three-act structure, exhibits no imagination and less willpower. Why go with a mere three acts when John Truby can show you twenty-two actual building blocks?

So we’re 100% clear, here, I think his building blocks are excellent. I don’t want any of you readers to think I’m slamming them.

What I’m slamming is the disingenuous method he uses to sell his £393.60 course.

I talk (actually, I write) about structure at a high level here. I cover the setup, the inciting incident, first and second plot points a couple of pinch points, the midpoint, the “all is lost” prior to the second plot point and the resolution. I also talk about the way the character’s motivation changes from that of an “orphan” to someone you is reacting to the events around them, on to the hero on the attack and finally to the martyr stage.

And I’m a rank amateur.

If you look closely at Truby’s building blocks, you won’t find much new. IT’ll be presented in a new way, and maybe different words are used, but it’s still a three act structure.

Hell, I even suggest you buy one of his books. He has many good points.

But saying that the three-act structure will kill your writing isn’t one of them.

Oh yeah. Monkey nuts.


April 15th marks the arrival of my tenth book, “Killing Time”.

The first was “Matt’s War”, initially released in September of 2010 (and revised thoroughly since then). That’s ten books in five years.

Two a year at a pretty steady pace.

And I’d write ten more in the next five years except for one small thing.

I’ve figured out the writing part, but I haven’t figure out the selling part. The writing part is easy. And I told myself that once I had a decent back catalogue (ten books qualifies as a decent-sized back catalogue), I’d put my slowly decaying mind to the marketing and selling bit of the business.

The “traditional” method used to sell the “non-traditionally published” books involves blog tours, free give-aways and excessive, it seems, social media floods.

I think there’s a better way. There has to be a better way.

“Killing Time” will be my last book in 2015. I’ll be spending the remainder of the year working on the sales part.

If you want to give a writer a hand, pop by AmazoniTunesKobo or B&N and preorder Killing Time. It would be much appreciated.

The genesis of a story idea is an ethereal thing, sometimes. A couple or three separate ideas lodge in the brain and over time they combine and a completely different “thing” is formed. A thing that would make a good tale, one that others would enjoy hearing.

The “over time” ingredient, however, can be months, or longer.

In 2013 I saw this Tweet:

I immediately thought this would be a good idea for a story, but an idea is not a story. I didn’t have the arc. I didn’t know the protagonist or antagonists (yet). Location, time, how the time travel would be presented all fuzzy.

The premise, that unsolved murders are the result of time travellers coming back to clean up messes, was good. That’s essentially the premise of the Terminator movies.

But to craft that premise over three acts, with a good character arc and a nice twist at the end, that took me a little while.

Over a year, in fact.

Initially Act 1 was easy. Act 2 floundered. Act 3 was impossible. Turns out I was looking at the story the wrong way. I was focussing on the time travel aspect of the story and not the reason for the time travel.

Then last November a virtual lightning bolt hit me on the top of my bald head and I knew how to end it. Once you know that, the rest falls into place. And after that, it wrote quickly. Probably because I’d spent over a year bouncing various permutations of the story around my mostly hollow skull.

It’s available for preorder now, and will be released on April 15, 21 months after the initial spark.

So, if you read Killing Time and enjoy it, thanks Roman Godzich. He provided the spark.

KillingTimeCoverv20(400x600)Killing Time is currently available for preorder (to the right on my website for links, or go here).

I’ve mentioned before why I think preorder has the potential to be a home run for authors, and I’d like to amp that up a bit.

I’ve got ARC  (Advance Reader Copies) available for readers who would like to provide reviews in advance of release (for iTunes and Kobo) and copy those same reviews on Amazon and B&N on April 15 when the book is released. (Amazon doesn’t allow reviews of books on preorder. Yet. They’ll catch up some time. B&N, the same.)

Two caveats:

  1. It has to be an honest review. I’m not looking for slappy-happy 5-star reviews. If you get the ARC, read it and think it’s poorly written drivel*, tell me and rate it accordingly. Of course, if you think it warrants 5 stars, I’m sure as hell not going to stop you.
  2. Please mention in the review that you are reviewing an advance copy (ARC). I expect I will find a couple of minor things to change between now and the end of the month. The story arc won’t change, but the “final” edits for tightness and flow never end.

If you are willing to help me out with this, leave a comment with the type of platform you read with (kindle, iBooks, etc.) and I’ll email you a copy.


*I frequently think what I write is poorly written drivel, so don’t beat yourself up over it.

01. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: writing · Tags: , ,

rebookEvery single book I’ve written is available on Smashwords.

And every year Smashwords has a weekly “Read an eBook” promotion. (Now you know where I got that catchy title.)

If you were to maybe click on the link above and see the titles available,you will see thirteen titles. Granted, one isn’t available until April 15.

So twelve.

Two are always free (the Eamonn short stories) and three are priced “pay whatever the hell you want”. That means you can pick them up for free, or one billions dollars. (Your choice. No pressure.)

The remaining seven are, for the period of March 1 through to March 7, 75% off.


Have you ever seen a deal like that? Yeah, yeah. Plenty.

But this is only on for a week.

Click that link above again (or flip over to the tab that opened the first time you clicked on it because I know you already clicked it) and pick any of the books (they’re all good. Trust me) and when you (if you) choose to buy one, enter the code RAE75 when you check out and presto-gizmo, a whopping 75% discount.

Go on. You know you want to.

Many thanks. For every dozen books sold I get to buy another cup of coffee.

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