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20 Master Plots and How to Build Them Hardcover – September 15, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0898795950 ISBN-10: 0898795958 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: And How to Build Them
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writers Digest Books; 1st edition (September 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898795958
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898795950
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,056,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Claudia Summer on 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 By Joyce Sweeney on 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 By Bonita Kale on 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 By A Customer on October 27, 1999
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 By G. McCarthy on 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 By Erik1988 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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 By E. Alicea on 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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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7, 1996
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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