What It's About: Story Trumps Structure is a book about writing that focuses less on structural story formulas and more on letting a story form on its own as you're writing.
Why I Read It: I've been reading Steven James's books for years, long before he became a fiction writer. I've enjoyed reading his novels and think he's one of the best storytellers out there.
What I Liked About It: I've read almost all of the books on story structure formulas, and some of them I really enjoy. There are really two types of writers: those who outline and those who don't. I tend to feel more free as a storyteller when I have an outline to work from, but sometimes I like to write without one. James's book is a book primarily for those who just want to write. James doesn't argue that stories don't have structure. They do, and, ironically, you'll find a lot about structure in this book. But the focus of Story Trumps Structure is to get you feeling free to let a story flow. I know I enjoy getting a story out and then fine tuning it afterward. James's book helps you to do that.
Like many books on fiction writing, James tells you the things that a good story needs, then unleashes you to write a story organically. He gives you some strategies to keep moving if you get stuck in the form of some questions to ask of your story, which I love and find most helpful.
There is a certain thrill from writing a story and not knowing beforehand where the story will go or how it will end. I tend to find myself outlining my stories because it's easy to get to a certain point in the story where you feel stuck. Those tend to end up unfinished stories. That's why I tend to rely on outlines. Story Trumps Structure is for writers who want to get away from feeling they have to have an outline. It's about keeping your story moving, keeping yourself engaged, and ultimately producing a story that will keep an author engaged.
When one of my favorite authors puts out a book about their process of writing, it's an exciting thing. Story Trumps Structure by Steven James doesn't disappoint.