ROWMemo 5~20

Hi everyone! Summer and the end of the school year (for the kids) is fast approaching and with it a sudden burst of activity that has worked hard to keep me busy doing anything but writing – but somehow I still squeezed it in. Well, not somehow, the new phone “mobile work desk” idea has panned out for the most part and I’ve been able to read, write and manage platform while traveling around to track meets, softball games, grocery shopping, even working in the yard – all pretty cool stuff.

Today, I’ve got a review of the Vogler & McKenna book “Memo” – right on time to meet my goal, followed by my update. Enjoy!

Review of “Memo From The Story Dept.” by Christopher Vogler & David McKenna

I’d heard good and bad about this book before buying it, but then that could be said of almost every craft book on my shelf. No system or idea will work for everyone. I think those that one-starred this book were missing out on some exceptional advice.

First, Memo stands out as an excellent addition to The Writer’s Journey, expanding on much of the advice given in Vogler’s solo tome of writerly knowledge. Where TWJ gives the keys to unleashing the power of myth for an emotionally strong and compelling story, Memo provides the keys to focusing that power into laser sharpness. Light, by itself isn’t all that powerful, but focus it into a tight beam and it can cut through practically anything.

This is what Memo provides.

Vogler’s chapters focus on theme, audience expectations and how to give them the best “show”. Expansion of the Writer’s Journey stages and archetypes. And a wonderful overview of Propp’s fairy tale system to help unlock all the potential that is waiting out there for a writer willing to do a tiny bit of research for a high return on investment. This adds up to pretty much everything needed to turn the “monomyth” into an instrument of well-structured and well-designed story.

But – then add in McKenna’s chapters, which, in my opinion, are pure gold layered richly over the solid gold of Vogler’s information. McKenna delves into the power of Polar Opposition. Watch any Disney flick and you’ll see this principle in action between the Hero and Villain – they both want the same thing, but they both want it for opposing reasons and follow morally divided paths to attain it.

McKenna’s chapters also bring the Six Environmental Factors and the massive engine of story creation and strengthening that they provide. When, exactly, is your story happening and how does that affect the tone and mood and properties of the story? Where, exactly, is all of this occurring at? What is the social dynamic of the world? An example of this one screams through the pages of Hunger Games, the plot engine is all about the social dynamic of that world which causes the “games” to be a reality. What is the religious – political – economic environment and how does it affect your story world? McKenna goes into detail on each of these points with tips to extract the power of your story from the very environment that you place it in. Great stuff, and by itself worth the purchase of the book.

If you’ve read Vogler’s Writer’s Journey, then this book is definitely one you’ll want to add next to it on your writing shelf. If you haven’t read Writer’s Journey – then I recommend BOTH books to you. I’ve learned a great deal from both books and apply the various principles contained in them nearly every day I plan, plot or write.

And now, on to the update…

-Write 7k of fiction per week. I’m not sure of my exact number but pretty sure I made it – just have to sync my phone and shuffle the material from there into Scrivener. Still pushing forward on this although there is a tweak in the making that I’ll discuss in a future update.

-Read and review 4 books by May 20. The above is the fourth of these and this goal is completed, right on time. I will be renewing this goal, however, between now and June 8th I have a ton of end of school events, graduations, etc., so I’m going to wait until after that to decide on the “official new books”. Currently, I read Holly Lisle’s Professional Plot Outline clinic and am partway through her book “Mugging Your Muse” (which is excellent). I have both of these as PDF’s on my phone and have to say I love the fact that I can read anywhere without having to carry extra items – like a physical book. Okay, so I’m fairly new to the joys of e-reading, but yeah, I’m loving it.

-Visit at least 15 ROWer’s each week. Yep, sixteen last week. Looking forward to stopping by many of your sites today. Remember to get out and support your fellow ROWers. An encouraging word. A virtual hand of compassion. Or maybe a gentle kick in the butt are all appreciated and part of what makes ROW such a wonderful endeavor for all of us.

Peaceful Journeys!

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About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. β€œOnly the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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13 Responses to ROWMemo 5~20

  1. EM Castellan says:

    Yeah for meeting all your goals, Gene, congratulations! You’re doing really well… I hope next week is just as great! Happy writing!

  2. Marcia says:

    I remember those hectic weeks of May and June! You’ll fly through it all successfully, as always. This book, Memo, sounds like a worthwhile read. ..adding more to my TBR stacks. eReading is awesome! I never thought I would give up print books, and I haven’t entirely, but I do love my ereader. It’s the first place I go for something to read now, and I’m reaching the point where I don’t look forward to picking up and actual book anymore. I carry more than 100 books with me all the time! Great job on your weekly goals!

  3. alberta says:

    well I’m not there yet – like to curl up (curl up! who am I kidding, sit) with a real book – but e readers are great in the right situation/time and mine is filling up nicely – just wish everyone would multi format their books tho’ (minor gripe of mine)

    Gene sound s like you have had a good week there and more busy-ness to come – sure you will sail serenly through it all:)

    all the best

  4. Em says:

    Your 7k makes me smile every time I see you achieve it! Well done! Great review too…seems like an interesting book. I am definitely going to have to have a good read about editing soon πŸ™‚

    Have a great week!

  5. Thanks so much for the review! I had added it to my wish list back when you first mentioned it but held off actually purchasing it because of the vastly different reviews I’d seen. I’m so glad it seems to stand as a solid companion to TWJ in your mind. I’ll definitely be picking it up now.

    Great work with your goals! I hear you on all the end of the year stuff, LOL, spent all day Friday at the school juggling events for 3 of the 4 wee beasties. Wishing you a fabulous week Gene.

  6. Juliana Haygert says:

    Haven’t read neither of those books. Need to get to them, thanks for the tips πŸ˜‰
    Awesome job, Gene!
    I miss the smell of books and shuffling through pages … I love going to bookstore … but I LOVE my kindle too! I have so many books at all times with me, whenever I go. Way cool πŸ˜‰
    Have a great week!

  7. Welcome to the mobile, ereading world. πŸ™‚ I still haven’t downloaded any word processing software to my iPad, but I plan to soon. It’s neat to be able to do things you need to do while on the go. What a crazy world we live in!

  8. Good job Gene! πŸ™‚ And good for you getting stuff done on the go “Memo” sounds like another great one to add to my collection.

  9. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    WTG, Gene! Your schedule makes me dizzy. I don’t know how you keep up with it all!

  10. Reetta Raitanen says:

    I loved Vogler’s the Writer’s Journey and this sounds like the perfect companion book. Thanks for the review.

    Congrats on the 7K words and I’m looking forward to your new reviews. eBooks really make reading so much easier. I’m reading more than ever with my Kindle. Holly Lisle’s clinic books are all excellent in my opinion, and I highly recommend her big classes too (How To Think Sideways, How To Revise Your Novel & How To Write A Series). I have taken them all and learned a lot.

  11. kimpdx says:

    It’s good to hear the mobile desk idea is working. It’s something I’m toying with, too. Thanks for the review of “Memo from the Story Dept.” I read “The Writer’s Journey,” so I’m looking forward to this one.

  12. Julie Glover says:

    What a marvelous week for your goals! I love the options of laptop, ereader, phone, whatever to get reading and work done wherever you are. I put Writer’s Journey on hold for a bit, but I’m getting back to reading Vogler’s classic this week. Have a wonderful week yourself!

  13. Fabio Bueno says:

    You’re doing really well, Gene! Writing 7k every week is a great accomplishment. I fell off the Row80 wagon, but I live vicariously through Rowers like you.
    The Writer’s Journey helped me jumpstart my writing career. I need to check out Memo.

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