Journey to the Heart of a Story

Posted: March 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m thrilled to announce the release of Story Structure Expedition—Journey to the Heart of a Storyby top author, PJ Reece.

Reece, an adventurer, a film-maker, a novelist, has a unique perspective on the craft of fiction, which has helped me make sense of the whole reason I read and write. I believe every serious fiction writer needs to read this book and imbibe this information. SSXpedition-FINAL-199x300

I read the book quickly and voraciously. I’ve put a short review up on Amazon and I saved the longer original version to post here, as an exclusive for my readers. Here it is:

photo PJ Reece has done it again, with his second book on the story heart (following Story Structure to Die For) nailing the essence of the roles of author and protagonist and ultimately, the story heart, in a short, easy-to-read novel you can swallow in one bite but then need a month to think about and truly digest. This is an epic tome of the grandest proportions masquerading as a handbook. And yet, even for a “low-brow” writer like myself, I could still understand PJ’s thesis, because this story about heart is written from the heart.

Reece uses the vehicle of retracing Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, by including his own ‘writer’, and casting himself as the protagonist, and the winding Congo river as metaphor for the torturous path our stories must take in order for our heroes to attain ultimate dissolution and rebirth. “If a protagonist charters a steamer up a river, convention demands that his goals be challenged, his desire thwarted, and the principles dear to his self-image be undermined. These are the facts of fiction.”

As the story moves on, while we know Reece is not really aboard the ‘Bouboulina’ retracing the steps of Marlow, in order to elucidate a theory of a ‘story’s heart’, the definitions start to blur, until we start to feel we’re reading a novel of fiction. “Then a lightning flash presents a snapshot of him sitting against the pilothouse wall with his arms crossed, staring at me, listening, like someone’s conscience.” Vivid descriptions like this of the others aboard ship, the Congo and the jungle are so lifelike and engaging, we start to believe Reece really IS the protagonist, and as such, we start to fear for him and tremble about his fate as if it were our own.

This is commentary on fiction like we’ve never seen it before. “First plots, now characters, everything is a misdirection.” We see the ‘protagonist’ ruminating on the sleight of hand of the ‘writer’, about the deeper meaning of stories, therefore the deeper meanings of our own lives as the protagonists in our own life stories, and this round-about-the-mulberry-bush method forces us further and further away from the comfortable former small view we had of everything, until we, the ‘reader’ experience our very own epiphanies. We, too, become ‘unselved’ as Reece puts it, which is the state our hero must achieve also, that of metanoia—being released from ‘the realm of the small self, always clamouring.’

“A hero leaves his self-interest behind. That’s the story.”5260513_orig

My writing tutor, Kate de Goldi, said that fiction should act as the mirror and the window. We should see ourselves and also look out at our world through the vehicle of story. PJ Reece offers us an additional third option through his non-fiction/fiction novel, Story Structure Expedition, Journey to the heart of a story, that of the magnifying glass – we see ourselves, we see the world through his vivid depictions of ordinary things, (we see the rain ‘that drips and twinkles’), and we also see deeply intensely into the core of ourselves, and the futility of our strivings as human beings. “I want to cast light on the human condition so that writers might deal with their protagonists in a way that makes their stories ring true.”


I recommend it.

Story Structure Expedition, Journey to the heart of a story, by PJ Reece. I also thoroughly recommend it.


And this from the author himself:

Does the story heart exist? And if so, where is it and how do we get there? Is it true that you have to die to reach the heart? Is a writer obliged to drive her protagonist that far? Is the story heart the source of our fiction addiction? Could that be why we write? Story Structure Expedition pushes up the Congo River to the famous “heart of darkness” on a mission that one early reader called “a mind-bending whiplash of a journey into the heart of how and why a writer can write…memorable stories.”

Not a memoir, not quite a novella, most certainly not a “how-to” do anything—let’s call this an “entertainment for writers.”

If you act NOW, this amazing book is FREE from Amazon TODAY.

  1. Sounds like great writing book, Yvette. I love that quote. What a fantastic review. I will buy the book even if it’s too late for the free one. I have a great writing book on structuring your novel to recommend. It’s called Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. You might follow her blog. She now has this story structure database. It’s an archive of books and films, recording all their major plot points.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. emaginette says:

    I’ll definitely take a look. You know me always looking for my next read 🙂

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette


  3. pjreece says:

    Thank you, Yvette, for the effort you took to gasp the essence of my little essay-memoir-novella-whataever it is. You’re the world’s best reader. Cheers.


    • yvettecarol says:

      It’s me who owes you, PJ. You were the adventurer who went out and caught fire, and brought it back for the tribe. I really appreciate that. You’ve most definitely altered the way I understand stories, and I think you may have saved me years of effort! Thank you.


  4. Great review, Yvette! Sounds like an amazing and in-depth book. I second Robyn’s recommendation of K.M. Weiland’s site.


  5. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    What an awesome review, Yvette. Sounds like a great book! I love your website. Looks fab!


    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Lynn! 🙂 I can’t even tell you how many hours I wasted in here trying to get the look of this site right. Even now, I think it’s too dark for a children’s writer but I couldn’t figure out how to lighten the page. Still, it’s the best of the lot, for sure.
      And thanks re the review. I believe PJ Reece has a powerful and unique message which all writers should familiarise themselves with, as it’s smart thinking about getting to the core of authentic, truthful writing. Worth a read!


  6. Jenny Hansen says:

    I love that photo of you and your mentor! Thanks for bringing me over here to take a peek. I’ll be back. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Whew! I thought you might have taken umbrage. When I asked another blogger friend how she got so many responses to her posts, she said she adds her URL to every comment she makes. So when I wrote this special post in support of this great book, I wanted to attract attention to the post so I remembered what she’d said, and every response I made the next day or so, I left my URL as well. Except I felt like a big bully afterwards, and wondered whether I’d clobbered anyone into responding! Thank you so much for coming on over Jenny, and also for the follow. I think you’re my second or third person on there! I only started this blog recently (skipped over the fence from the Blogger cow paddock), and just so you know, I only blog a couple of times a month! Sorry, Kristen (I just can’t match her output, or yours, for that matter)!!


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