Writing the Heart of Your Story: a book review

book cover Writing the Heart of Your Story by CS LakinI rarely do a straight-out book review. In fact, I think this might the first one. I often recommend a book, especially those that have had a tremendous impact on my writing career in some way whether in skills learned or motivationally.

But today, I feel compelled to talk about Writing the Heart of Your Story by C.S. Lakin.

As I read, I’m highlighting paragraph after paragraph. I plan to reference this book again and again as I write my own novels.

Just as important, what I’m reading is impacting me as an editor as well as a writer. I won’t look at another novel manuscript the same again. I probably won’t look at any book I read, for business or pleasure, the same way again.

As the title states, this book is about what’s at the heart of your:

  • story
  • plot
  • characters
  • secondary characters
  • theme

Lakin talks about major dramatic queries: the plot question and the spiritual question (not in the sense of faith or religion). I knew about the plot question, but it was the spiritual question that knocked me over. This element brought balance (and a name) to what I knew separated the good books from the great ones from my own years of avid fiction reading.

In her chapter on “the bad guys” (your antagonist), she shared something she had learned from a Donald Maass workshop:

Rewrite our synopsis from the POV of our antagonist.

This opened up a whole new aspect of her antagonist to her, and it can for you as well. It also may give you ideas on how to handle POV.

I’m only on Part Three: The Heart of Your Plot and Theme, the 48 percent mark in my kindle location. Lots more to read and, no doubt, lots more to learn.

This book has taken my understanding of writing a great novel to a whole new level. It will impact how I write and how I edit.

I highly recommend this book for fiction writers. Check for it at your library, though I couldn’t find it at mine. Never hurts to ask. The kindle version is only $4.99. Let your friends know you’d like it for your birthday!

In the meantime, check out Lakin’s website LiveWriteThrive resources page. Her freebies include an 11 page article “The Right Way to Write a Query Letter” and several checklists.

What book(s) have you read that have had a major impact on your writing? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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  1. I was just looking for another book to read for writing! Thank yo for the recommendation 😀

  2. So true. I read her Mark of the Lion Trilogy and couldn’t put the books down.

  3. Francine Rivers’ books. Not only are they stuffed full of scriptures, biblical history, and an unspoken foreign language (Latin), but they are long. All these things, I’ve been told, can spell doom for your books. Yet she is a very successful author.

    • I’ve only read one of her books and I don’t remember it being like that. Often, once authors gain fame and a following, they can break the “rules.” New authors more often have to follow those rules with their first few books.

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