Shut Up and Write the Book: Does it work?

Matthew Arnold Stern
3 min readFeb 6
Jenna Moreci’s Shut Up and Write the Book with my manuscript

If you’re a writer, you probably have at least one shelf full of books about writing. You probably have a copy of Strunk & White, Stephen King’s On Writing, Writer’s Market, The Chicago Manual of Style, and a dictionary and thesaurus you haven’t opened for years because you now look up words online. You might also have guidebooks for writing your specific genre and format. When I was scriptwriting, I was a fan of John Truby and his 22 steps. To judge a writing guide, it all comes down to a single question: Does it work?

I’ve been a big fan of Jenna Moreci and her YouTube channel for years. So, I was excited that she was coming out with her own writing guide, Shut Up and Write the Book. It captures all the brilliant insight and foul-mouthed snark of her videos. (You can see my video review on TikTok.) But does it work as a writing guide? To test it out, I followed the book’s advice as I started the draft for my new novel for Fun A Day Reseda. Here’s my experience.

Shut Up and Write the Book (I’ll use her preferred abbreviation of SUAWTB from here on) takes you through the whole process of creating a book, from coming up with ideas through finishing the draft to having it ready for submission or publication. My Fun A Day project of writing the first 50,000 words doesn’t even take me through a first draft. But the guidance in SUAWTB helped me get down the first 50,000 words and build momentum for completing the manuscript.

The first step is to come up with the idea for the book. At Loscon, I learned the importance of finding the intersection between what you want to write and what will sell. Jenna goes into this process in more detail. For my project, this information helped me develop my story idea, especially because I’m writing in a new genre.

From this idea, you build the structure of the plot. Even if you’re a pantser, you still need to give your story shape and direction. While there are many ways to structure a story from the classic three act structure to Save the Cat, your story should follow a pyramid of rising action based on conflict that reaches a climax. Jenna presents her own story structure, which she used in her The Savior’s Champion series. I used it for my book, and I found it extremely helpful. I put together the major story beats and set up the conflicts.

Matthew Arnold Stern

A novelist and award-winning public speaker and technical writer. My novels Amiga and The Remainders are available now.