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20 Master Plots and How to Build Them [Kindle Edition]

Ronald Tobias
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This book shows you how to take timeless storytelling structures and make them immediate, now, for fiction that's universal in how it speaks to the reader's heart and contemporary in detail and impact. Each chapter includes brief excerpts and descriptions of fiction from many times, many genres - myth and fairy tale, genre and mainstream fiction, film plots of all types, short story and novel. Find 20 fundamental plots that recur through all fiction - with analysis and examples - that outline benefits and warnings, for writers to adapt and elaborate in their own fiction.



Product Details

  • File Size: 1592 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 1 edition (September 15, 1993)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LIYZJ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #389,445 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(19)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ONLY book on writing that helps in a practical way December 15, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Ronald B. Tobias must have written this book with me in mind. I've published and edited non-fiction for years, but now trying my hand at writing fiction. Scary! I usually advise people to stay away for books on how to write, believing it can't be taught. But Tobias chops through the undergrowth and reveals very practical information on structuring your work.
Almost all of the books I've worked on as inhouse editor suffer from lack of structure. Intelligent people seem clueless when it comes to shaping their manuscripts and making them commercially viable. 20 Master Plots offers much more than plot ideas. It succinctly puts forth a wealth of information on how to think about what you're doing and where you are going with your work. I'm so jazzed by this book, I woke up after three hours' sleep to write this review and get back to my novel. Exciting!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best February 28, 2001
Format:Hardcover
As an author and writing teacher, I've looked at other books on master plots and found them very wanting. This one , however, is dynamite. I found multiple ways to use it - it helped clarify in my mind what kinds of plots I had used in the past to write my novels, it gave me ideas for master plots I hadn't yet tried and it gave me a window into several courses I plan to teach in the near future, one on plotting and one in memoir, where I plan to challenge the students to find the master plots in their life stories.Tobias' ideas on just what the master plots are make sense, unlike many other books on the subject, plus he offers the reader lots of original insights into how these plots work, what the "rules" of each plot are and how to look deeper into the themes within each plot. Helpful prompts and checklists at the end of each chapter make this a natural for any aspiring writer who wants to work on plot, or any writing teacher who wants to clarify the subject for students of any age. This one's going in my Best Books shelf!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for the plot-challenged. April 25, 2000
Format:Hardcover
I see that some reviewers find Tobia's stuff obvious. I don't; it's exactly what I need. Plot is my bete noir. I have no trouble with style, and characterization and dialogue are fun, but plot--argh! So who cares if Tobias could have used some line-editing? He knows what I want to find out, and he explains it in a way I can understand. His image of plot as process rather than skeleton was enormously helpful. Bless him!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only how-to-write book you need October 27, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I had been trying to pen my first novel for eleven years, but, in spite of all my reading of other writing books as well as immersing myself in the kind of fiction I was trying to create, I didn't have the critical acumen to define how to do it. This book tells you what you want to do, how to achieve it, and why it's important. Tobias does this with clarity, authority, grace, and humor. This book gave me everything I needed to write my book. Thank you, Ron!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cheesy title for a very useful and informative book June 22, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Tobias does a good job breaking down common plotlines into their respective patterns. His book provides a method to analyze storylines and identify their basic components, making it easier to understand the underlying structure of the novel or screenplay. He illustrates his ideas through well-chosen examples from the classics as well as modern day literature.
Tobias has taken the time to find out what many great authors said and wrote about the nature of their craft. My favorite is a quote attributed to Somerset Maugham: "There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are." This book attempts to identify the rules for story construction in a way that many aspiring novelists will find useful.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference January 20, 2003
Format:Hardcover
My biggest praise is the checklist at the end of each section that summarizes the elements of each plot type
With the use of these checklists I'm abel to see the plots I'm using in my stories and determine if I'm being too cliche or not.Now that I have something to compare things with, I'm able to decide if my story plots need elements added or removed.
For the plot types that I haven't started yet, I found reading the plot generalizations to be a nice springboard for brainstorming twists and turns that my own stories can make as I mix-n-match the different plot devices.
I'm very happy I got my hands on this book!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great handbook for Plot making/revising June 7, 1996
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Tobias includes Aristotles three parts of the play, then expands this into a list of "the lowest common plot denominators." Writers may wish to change these into questions to revise their own story's plot. It helps to have a list of plots sometimes to jar the creative flow, but nothing can compare to just sitting down and writing
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Themes, themes, themes July 27, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
20 Master Plots is the perfect addition to the library of any aspiring writer. This book takes you through twenty different plot themes, with a note in mind on what the plot theme is, and how to implement it in the Three Act structure.

While the book does give you a semblance of an outline in regards to themes, and what should go in which Act, it does NOT tell you how to develop the plot according to theme.

All in all, if you are writing a story about sacrifice or adventure, or one of the 18 other things this book covers, and you are having problems with what is involved in the theme, this is the book for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book I Always Return To
This is a comprehensive book that I reference again and again in my writing.
It's a book that breaks down the principles underlying the types of stories we tell,
why and... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Judy K. Tate
5.0 out of 5 stars PLOT!!
Because where are we without a plot? Aimlessly wandering around, for sure. So getting my teeth into this book, which gives me twenty arch-typical plots for study and dissection and... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Askja
5.0 out of 5 stars The second of this writer's how-to books I've bought
Ronald Tobias makes how to construct a plot as clear as the antagonist's motivations. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is learning to write fiction. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ell Bee
4.0 out of 5 stars 20 Master Plots
The contents were thorough and were a good reminder of many of the useful story plots. I'm glad I bought it and it arrived within the time the retailer had predicted.
Published on October 10, 2011 by James Nee
3.0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile struggle to get through
I've read many, many books on the topic of writing, trying to gather advice to launch a writing career of my own. Read more
Published on October 8, 2011 by Jacob Dieffenbach
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't like it
This book focused on the plots...hey guess what, I already wrote a book...and you know what? It had about 12 of the 20 plots in it! Give me a break! Read more
Published on March 9, 2002 by Jason A. Myers
1.0 out of 5 stars This book needs help!
What can be said in a few sentences, he takes an entire chapter to say. His examples are unimaginative and boring. Read more
Published on June 11, 2000 by laura in Phoenix
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