Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest Stuart Horwitz founder and principal of Book Architecture. Stuart has fifteen years of experience as a writing teacher, co-writer and book coach. He is an award-winning poet and essayist and has taught writing and writing workshops at Brown University and creative writing centers in the Boston area and across the country. He is the author of Book Architecture: How to Plot and Outline Without Using a Formula and Blueprint Your Bestseller: Organize and Revise Any Manuscript with the Book Architecture Method. Stuart holds degrees in Literary Aesthetics from NYU and East Asian Studies from Harvard.
Norm: Good day Stuart and thanks for participating in our interview
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what keeps you going?
Stuart: I guess I first realized I was a reader pretty early on in my childhood, and then it just felt natural to try my hand at a variety of styles and genres. It wasn’t until I was 28 however that I struck the tone of voice that is my voice, and after that I really started getting somewhere... What keeps me going are the writing project ideas that won’t leave me alone – the ones that keep calling me back to them. Those are the ones that really feel like mine, like maybe I’m the only one who can write them.
Norm: In the past few years have you seen any changes in the way publishers publish and/or distribute books? Are there any emerging trends developing?
Stuart: I have seen a lot of as an independent editor which is how I make my living. 15 years ago we were like ambulance chasers, you know, no one really wanted to hear from us or about us. Now the publishing industry has changed so much I get calls from large publishing houses to take over the editorial for a book that has lost its editor or because all of their editors are over committed. Also with the rise of self-publishing, the need for independent editors has come to the fore -- because just because you can click “upload” doesn’t mean that you should yet...
Norm: What do you think makes a good story? As a follow up, what, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Stuart: Having narrative
elements that repeat and vary and that intersect, interact and
collide in interesting and consequential ways. That’s what makes
the story go and what I have written about in both of my books on
In my newest book, Book Architecture, I discuss the strategies for unifying all of the components in your story so that the reader feels the emotional pay-off, the pace and pleasure of reading and can trust that you, the writer, are in charge.
Norm: What would you say is the biggest problem with most self-published books?
Stuart: I guess in reference to one of my earlier responses I would say that the works haven’t gone through the rigorous editing process that all works need whether published independently or traditionally. My second book was published independently but I still had 8 beta readers, an editor, a copy editor and three proofreaders. We only get one shot at this! And we have to make it great.
Norm: Do you feel that writers, regardless of genre owe something to readers, if not, why not, if so, why and what would that be?
Stuart: This is a question that I hear people talking about but I don’t understand. I mean, of course a writer owes something to a reader – without a reader there wouldn’t be a writer! Writing is an act of communication: you have to make yourself understood and connect with someone else’s heart and mind or else you are a tree falling in the forest with no one around. So I guess on that principle I would say a writer owes a reader respect, honesty, and effort if you are going to claim some of his/her valuable time.
Norm: Could you briefly tell our readers something about your most recent book, Book Architecture: How to Plot and Outline Without Using a Formula. Whom do you believe will benefit from your book and why?
Stuart: In Book Architecture, I help writers craft a powerful plot and an effective outline for their works-in-progress by using a method instead of a formula to teach a new approach to structure that will transform the way writers look at their writing. Whether your manuscript is an advanced draft or you are just starting out, whether you are working in fiction, film and TV, or creative nonfiction, I think you can benefit from the detailed, concrete examples that reveal how the Book Architecture Method works with everything from literary classics to blockbuster films. And you won’t have to resort to using a formula – which may seem risky! But it can be done.
Norm: What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Stuart: Well I think this goes back to what I was saying above: if an idea won’t let you alone, then you have to give in to it and participate in it, with joy. As a good Buddhist I have to point out that nothing lasts forever: what matters the most is being in the moment creating, finding intellectual delight in your endeavors and bringing them to fruition through dedication and openness. Since we can’t take any of this with us, how we spend our time is of the utmost importance and writing is a delightful and productive way to spend some time.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Stuart: Our WEBSITE and I think there’s a lot of stuff there that writers might like including a library of 40 articles about the writing process from first draft to post promotional concerns.
Norm: What is next for Stuart Horwitz?
Stuart: I’m a little superstitious about this answer at the moment! I’ve embarked on a new writing project in a brand-new genre (for me) -- I won’t say more than that at the moment except to say that it will require making a bunch of mistake and keeping going anyway to get where I want to go!..
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Stuart: I think these questions were great! Thanks so much for having me, Norm.
Norm: Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.