How it all started
Updated: Apr 20, 2022
My name is Eric, and I wanted to give you a brief introduction to how Bookplotter came to be.
I've been a storyteller all my life. Taking an insignificant event that happened in my life and turning it into some exaggerated grand adventure to make my friends and family laugh. I was told many times that I should write books with those stories, and I dabbled into it a few times in my life, starting a few chapters and putting them away in a drawer to be forgotten. 10 years ago, I committed myself to follow through and completed a book. I shared it with my family and friends and got positive feedback. So I posted it on the web, got over 600 readers who also told me they liked it. It was a good start, but after getting refusals by editors, who polity said, the story was interesting but they didn't see a commercial future for it; I concluded that I wasn't blessed with the God-given gift of writing. So it also went into the proverbial drawer, along with my dream of becoming a writer.
Fast-forward to last year:
I love to read (don't we all), so during the holidays, I went back into the infamous drawer, which I affectively call the coffin, and took out THE book. I sat down in the living room with my family, and a glass of Scotch, and read it. It was...ok. I mean, it wasn't good... but it wasn't bad. Something was off, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I had to figure out what I was doing wrong.
You have to understand that I've been working in Aerospace Engineering most of my career as a Continuous Improvement Black Belt. My role is to analyze processes, to improve cost, time, quality, and safety. When I realized that writing was a process and that becoming a writer was a skill I could develop, my mind went into overdrive. On NewYear's Day, I made a resolution that I would become a writer, and submerge myself in books, online courses, seminars, and podcasts. I made a list of all the tools that could help me hone this new skill and started writing. I was having fun!
Now, I needed a control point. I needed to know the level at which I was starting to be able to measure if I would be making any progress. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you get on the scale and weigh yourself, and then you can see if you're moving in the right direction. I needed an expert that could look at my work and give me an appraisal. I joined the Dialogue Doctor Community and started writing prompts every week getting feedback on what I should be focusing on. After a few weeks, Jeff Elkins, THE Dialogue Doctor, offered me to do a podcast with him, where he could work with me on a scene I had written. I accepted with joy, and some fear of the potential humiliation I could face having millions of people seeing and hearing how bad my writing was. Jeff lied and reassured me that he only had 6 followers and that everything would work out great. I figured that I was there to learn and I could only get better. Jeff was great! He coached me on dialogue only first draft, how to put backstories in dialogues, emotional flow, and how to modulate character voices. This guy knew what he was talking about and knew how to communicate it in a fun and constructive way. I now had my control point.
I took all the tools I had and created an excel spreadsheet to help me write. After a few weeks, the spreadsheet was getting very complex and hard to manage, so I designed a database to simplify the process. This was going great. My writing was under control and to my feeling, getting better. I showed some friends my new hobby and they told me they wanted a copy of my database to also try writing. It got my wheels turning. If this tool was good for me, I should share it with the writing community. I have done some web programming in the past and decided to give it a shot and created a beta version to test it out. I wrote 30 chapters of my book using BookPlotter beta including the rewrite of the first scenes that Jeff had helped me with.
When Jeff offered me another opportunity a few months later to do another podcast with him I jumped at the chance. I suggested working again on the same scene that I had rewritten since then. I was more nervous than the first time. Was I at the same place I was a few months ago or did I improve? I sent Jeff my scenes and waited for his edits. I was sweating bullets. It took him a few days to respond (if you listen to his podcast you'll understand how busy this guy is) and I was imagining him reading my text with a glass of whisky and a cigar pulling his hair out wondering why the hell did he ever accept to work with me. When his email finally popped into my inbox I was almost scared to open it. Now don't get me wrong, Jeff is a gentleman and a really good guy, he would never tell me something like: "You're the worst writer I ever read. This is the perfect example of what you should NEVER do... " But the email shocked me even more. It went like this:
These are amazing. You've done an awesome job. I can't wait to talk with you about them.
This is night and day from the first time I read the piece.
Needless to say, I was doing imaginary cartwheels in my head. If ever you watch the episode on youtube, you'll see me with a stupid grin on my face during the whole hour. I was getting better at writing and the process I had created for myself was working.
Part of my job is to simplify complex tasks and make them user-friendly for my colleagues. The most efficient way I found to communicate is to create a story that will simplify the dry, and often complex, theoretical concepts. When I explain in a manufacturing shop the concept of material flow throughout the plant, I always compare it to a river, where the obstacles, rocks, bends, and waterfalls are analogies for issues they are having. I would receive calls telling me: "Hey Eric, we just hit a rock and our boat is taking is water. Could you give us a hand?" No one ever tells me: "Eric we need to do a Kaizen event due to a deficiency of the kanban process in the pull system which isn't sending the appropriate replenishment signal to my internal supplier, creating a strain on the constraint and depleting the buffer inventory, reducing our overall equipment effectiveness ratio causing a delay on our delivery schedule." You get the idea.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoy once in a while drinking a good glass of Scotch. My wife on the other hand will not drink any kind of whisky (more for me...) she finds it too rough. But if I buy Honey whisky she'll join me for a drink. I listened to over 600 hours of podcasts and audiobooks last year on writing read more than 15 books and hundreds of newsletters. Committed you say? There might be another word for it but I'll gladly take that one. It was all without exception very good information. This being said, a lot of it was rough to assimilate being very theoretical and abstract. So I decided to pour some honey on it.
I've been practicing martial arts almost all my life. As most of you might know, Bruce Lee studied Kung Fu but developed his own specialty called jeet kune do, concentrating on the essentials of the art. To be a grandmaster in any martial art you need to know over 800 different technics, but if you want to survive a street fight knowing 4 or 5 moves is all you need.
Essentially this is what I created with Bookplotter. I designed a honey sprinkled, pick and choose, writer's buffet to help you write a story that works. If you're a Plotter you will want to use the tools before you start writing your scenes. If you're a Panser you'll want to use them after as you edit your story. I'm halfway. I use some of the tools to start and some later on once the Muse tells me what the characters are like. It's up to you how you use it.
Try out BookPlotter yourself for 14 days for free and tell me what you think. I'm always looking for ways to improve. let's build this tool together.