Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Interview With Author & Publishing Expert Stuart Horwitz

1.      What inspired you to write this book? I felt very strongly that it was the next thing, that it was the right thing, that there were real live people who had read my first book, Blueprint Your Bestseller, who wanted more and this was the more they wanted. Sometimes that’s all you have to go on!

2.      What qualifies you to write it? Well, I have studied the theories behind my Book Architecture Method since I was a Senior Fellow in Creative Writing at Dartmouth and went on to get a Masters in Literary Aesthetics at NYU. Which basically just means that I’ve read a lot of books, and I’ve gotten to write about these concepts at length which always helps you clarify what you think. Teaching the Method for seven years also really helped me see when the lightbulbs went off, when things I would say were challenged (in a good way), and when people were looking at their watches...

3.      Do all great writers follow a formula? Is there more than one formula? Two great questions. Let’s take the second first. There is likely an overarching psychological structure that influences how we receive narrative: sometimes that structure takes Five Acts (Shakespeare), sometimes it is three movements (Freytag), and American writing circles have now boiled this down to a formula, where you know, the inciting incident has to happen 5% of the way through the work, the point of no return has to be reached at the quarter-pole, etc. To answer the question of whether all great writers follow a formula, I am of course consigned to what I have read (or viewed in terms of a film or play), but the answer seems pretty clearly to be: No. Some do, and some don’t. And greatness can’t be achieved both ways, and empty or regurgitated material can happen both ways as well.

4.      Doesn't great writing come naturally, from the heart and from experiences and from the depths of one's imagination? It does...but here I wonder if you’re contrasting the imagination to concentration on structural methods. We have a saying around the office, “Intelligent planning is not the enemy of creative genius.” (We don’t actually say that, but it is on the wall.) Writers need to use both sides of their brains.

5.      Did you use a formula to write your book? Heck, no! But I did use three tools which I talk about in Book Architecture, the target, the grid, and the arc. These tools apply to non-fiction as well as fiction, and not only “novelistic” fiction such as creative non-fiction or memoir, but prescriptive non-fiction as well.

6.      Will we soon see robot-authored books that are created based on a formula? That’s funny. To some degree we see that now, at least writers being robotic, and filling in boxes – oh, you know here we need to have the midpoint where my hero takes control of his/her destiny... I think you can tell the books that have written strictly to convention in the hope of riding the coattails of some famous works to getting published well – and don’t forget that movie deal! Because most of those folks use a formula like it’s nobody’s business.

 7.      What advice do you have for a struggling writer? Make time to write, and love what you are writing. Writing is an activity that can sustain you for a lifetime provided you don’t get hung up on what kind of success you have or what people say about you. If you love to write, look forward to writing and don’t miss your appointments. And above all, don’t apologize for being a writer.

8.      Where do you see book publishing is heading? Well, my first book was traditionally published (one of the Big Five, then the Big Six). My second book has been independently published – so that might give you a sense of my bias here. I wanted to write exactly what people were asking for, to have Molly’s marvelous graphs and diagrams in full color, and to get my book to market on a much shorter time span. That said, I’m so glad I have the first experience of watching a book come to life and all of the talented people I got to meet at Penguin. Everybody’s got to find their own road. I guess I’m just saying that book publishing is heading towards a hybrid future of traditional and independent publishing – I can’t see what the end of that road looks like even if I squint.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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