I was intrigued by the title of FROM IDEA TO STORY IN 90 SECONDS. The jacket copy and blurb made it sound even more exciting. Could this book really teach what it promised? Most writers have enough ideas for several lifetimes worth of books, but the trick is in the execution. Until it’s wedded to character and plot, an idea is all but useless. So if this book could show writers how to flesh out those ideas into actual stories that worked, I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, Rand never follows through with anything concrete or useful. FROM IDEA TO STORY IN 90 SECONDS has plenty to say about the idea-gathering process, but next to nothing to say about what to do with all those vague ideas in our heads.
FROM IDEA TO STORY IN 90 SECONDS is divided into two parts. The first part is theory. It attempts to answer that age-old question, “Where do you get your ideas?” The answer is as individual as the writer. Rand is very clear about where he gets his ideas (while driving) but we all tap into our subconscious in our own way, and most writers are overflowing with raw ideas already.
The second part is labeled “practice” and is supposed to teach writers how to shape all those amazing ideas they have. However, Rand never discusses the specifics of creating stories. The entire second half of the book can be summed up in six words: write fast and don’t censor yourself. Rand is of the spit-it-out-and-fix-it-later school of thought. That’s perfectly okay, but the advice is both basic and well-known. It tells a writer nothing about the writing itself.
I’m giving this book two stars, because I reserve one-star ratings for books that are actively harmful to writers. Nothing that Rand says will set your writing career back in any way, but it won’t push you forward, either.
rating: 2 stars
pie slices: 8 slices craft
I recommend Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain or Hooked by Les Edgerton instead of this book.