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20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them 3rd Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Being selective for most of my reading life and favoring the classics or what is termed literary fiction, I suspect I am well into appreciating the craft required. However, what has troubled me about most guides to fiction writing is the continued emphasis on conflict in plot structure. Most conflicts bewilder me into wondering why I should care about the characters. Tobias makes clear that action plots drive most popular fiction today; the rest are character-driven plots. He uses as an alternative expression to conflict the prospects from tension in the story. This may be a subtly semantic difference, but it promises greater complexity and subtlety in story-telling than the out and out razzle-dazzle of action plots.
Tobias hits the mark when he says, quoting Picasso, that the creator must first know the rules before setting out to break them. Okay, let's start with action and character examples of the most common plot usages. This he does with pinpointed relevance and incisive clarity. Also practically useful are the lists of check questions along the way. In short, did you learn the lesson?
I've read enough novels over my lifetime to learn that in the few hundred years of novel development, authors have exercised a great deal of experiment not only in plot, but in style.Read more ›
Ronald B. Tobias's craft book, "20 Master Plots and How to Build Them" takes an approachable and wizened tone to the subject of plot and plot-doctoring. At no point is the craft "preached" or laid out as hard-set rules to follow (indeed, he hastens, on many occasions, to remind us that the book only offers patterns).
The tone makes the text approachable, and the layout of the book is logical, concise, full of literary examples to illustrate points, and not at all gimmicky.
The twenty plots examined by Tobias include Quest, Adventure, Pursuit, Rescue, Escape, Revenge, The Riddle, The Rivalry, The Underdog, Temptation, Metamorphosis, Transformation, Maturation, Love, Forbidden Love, Sacrifice, Discovery, Wretched Excess, Ascension, and Descension. Each come with three or four literary or cinematic examples to help get the point across, and a checklist at the end to help "guide you" back on target. The text can be read cover to cover or piecemeal, however you plan to use it. There are a lot of cinematic examples, but I didn't find these detracting (after all, it's far more likely someone has seen a specific movie than read a specific book).
I personally recommend reading the book with a story already in mind. By the time I got to Chapter Five, I had so many new ideas for writing that I almost put it down... I'm glad I didn't, because in Chapter Thirteen, I was hit by another plot twist that basically fixed a lot of my tension issues in the outline.
This book not only helped me understand some of the fundamentals that are not inherently obvious, but did the most important task of all: got me psyched to start writing!
The book has a chapter for every plot you could think of. It explains the plot and then breaks down the order of events that normally occur in the plot. The author provides numerous examples of books and films to look into in order to better understand each type of plot.
This is a huge help when working out an outline, whether on paper or in your head.
The truth is, your story may be applicable to a few plots; that's the genius of it. It allows you to see some really cool ways if telling it. There's always more than one. You may even find a few plots in there that you would have never thought of using but, after reading its dedicated chapter, find yourself curious enough to explore......
Chase your intuition. As a said before, it's a good supplement, certainly worth it's price.
This entire volume suffered from a lack of editing. I don't mean grammar or nit-picky stuff. I mean, it was disjointed. Sometimes he switched gears without titling a new header, there were often no transition sentences between paragraphs to make things read smoothly, and he included things that made the reader wonder where that came from or why it was in that place (particularly in the six chapters preceding those covering master plots).
Not that I mind it since he is a screen writer, but he frames his discussion of the three-act structure primarily around examples from screen, giving marginal attention to either classic or contemporary literature. What I did mind is that he showed his screen bias so obviously (more than once). He prefers plot-driven commercial plots rather than character-driven literary plots. He said they don't require as much thinking and that he doesn't like to feel "lectured" by moral characters in literary stories. He also dares to speak for most of America with this particular opinion, citing market trends. I completely disagree with him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I could not believe something written in 2012 could be so sexist and insulting. Female main characters? No, they're just supporting. All plots revolve around men. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Lily
I really liked this book. I was kind of stuck and it helped me a lot. There's nothing really new, it contains things we aspiring writers have heard before, but when I was reading... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Claudio
More general reference, won't help too much in writing a story.Published 13 months ago by Brad Ashlock
To know the main existing master plots in literature, theatre or film is essential for any screenwriter. Read morePublished 14 months ago by diego
20 Master Plots is very useful to the beginning writer who needs help in crafting a plot. A guide for those who thought they were pantzers but may very well need an outline to help... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Karen L. Wutzke
Was a gift for my English lit major, future novelist. She loves it.Published 14 months ago by RICK NICKERSON
Tobias, like most writers and critics, believes that novels must be either action oriented or idea oriented. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Edward Woodhouse
If you're looking for plot ideas for your next novel, short story, or creative writing piece, experiment with the 20 plot structures in this book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Sheri Rose
this has helped me understand what the authors go through and i now read books entirely differantlyPublished 18 months ago by don