I’m thrilled to announce the release of “Story Structure Expedition—Journey to the Heart of a Story” by 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.
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:
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.’
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.”