Posts Tagged ‘story engine’

The Beating Heart


November 10th, 2017 Posted 6:58 am

If you’ve ever caught us on tour, you probably heard something about the heart of the story, the engine that makes it go. Here’s an example from THE RIGHT SIDE (from Chapter 21).

The dog came closer, stood beside LeAnne. Then she lowered her head toward LeAnne’s side and prodded her with her warm, wet muzzle. The message couldn’t have been clearer: Get up.


The Engine That Drives the Story


September 28th, 2013 Posted 7:59 am

“First,” Bernie said, pulling up to a roadside food truck – one of the greatest human inventions, in my opinion, right up there with cars and handcuffs, “let’s get you fed.” Sounded like a plan to me. And what if after I was done, he said, Second, let’s get you fed again?

Bernie went up to the guy in the food truck window.

“Got any steak?”

“Just the round, but it’s all cut up for the brochettes,” said the food truck guy. He wore beaded chains around his neck and was missing a whole bunch of teeth. Getting through life without all your teeth? Hard to imagine anything worse.

“I’ll take two pounds.”

“How’d you like that done?”


The next thing I knew I was making quick work of the best steak I’d ever tasted and you can take that to the bank, except you couldn’t, the steak being gone. This took place outside the car, right off the paper wrapper, the food truck guy in the window smiling the whole time. After that, I lapped up a bowl of water and another, felt like me. I sat myself down in front of Bernie and waited.

“What?” he said. “What?”

He didn’t know I was waiting for him to say, Second, let’s get you fed again? That had been the plan, at least as I remembered it.

Then from the food truck guy came a big surprise. “I reckon he wants to do it all over again.”

“Can’t be,” Bernie said. “You saw what he just downed.”

“So how come he’s barking like that?”

Bernie gave me a look. “Could be anything. Cool it, Chet. Let’s go.”

We went. I tried to cool it but couldn’t for the longest time, on account of it couldn’t be anything! The food truck guy hit it on the nose, whatever that might mean, the human nose being mostly wrong in my experience, or not even in the picture. Finally Bernie said, “Chet! I can’t hear myself think!”

Uh-oh. Bernie’s thinking was one of the best things we had going for us at the Little Detective Agency, Bernie having come up with so many thoughts in our career that I couldn’t remember any. I got a grip.

“Whew,” said Bernie.

– from The Sound and the Furry.


Readers And Us


September 7th, 2012 Posted 9:50 am

“Sometimes,” Spence says, “a reader identifies the engine that drives the story. I know, Admin, that that’s a concept you talk about sometimes with people who want to write.”

“Going somewhere with this?” says Admin.

“That was my intention. An Amazon reviewer named Margaret Phillips wrote this about our e-story, A Cat Was Involved: ‘Finally, we find out why Chet failed the police training program. He was even better than the test he was supposed to pass.’ The engine, right?”

“Vroom vroom.”

Welcome Finnigan, ballplaying dude.


The Books

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