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Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters

42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1582973258
ISBN-10: 1582973253
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Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters + 45 Master Characters, Revised Edition: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters + A Writer's Guide to Characterization: Archetypes, Heroic Journeys, and Other Elements of Dynamic Character Development
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The author of 45 Master Characters, Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D. holds degrees in film production and creative writing and also has a Ph.D. in psychology. Victoria also works locally as a story analyst and writer.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582973253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582973258
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Victoria Lynn Schmidt, PhD PsyD is recognized internationally as a guru for the creative writer and is now becoming known as the voice for the creative soul in all areas of life and business.

While Victoria has been writing since she was 9 years old, she has been studying writing deeply for the past 10 years and uses her techniques and research in her courses at several major universities with much success. Some of her students have gone on to become bestselling authors and have won literary awards.

Unlike most writing books, her books are grounded in solid experimental work.

"I hope readers will realize how vitally important it is to think deeply about all of the decisions they are making when writing. Don't just set a scene in a coffee shop because that's the most logical place or how it's always been done... consider other options and see just how much more alive the scene will feel for it." Victoria Lynn Schmidt

She takes cutting edge research, connects it with ancient wisdom, and puts it in the hands and hearts of everyone who wants a successful high spirited life and career. Her Sound, Simple, Profound ideas help improve every area of your life. She also has a quirky sense of humor, an adventurous spirit, and a passion for helping shelter animals globally.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Erik1988 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Part 1 - Drafting a Plan

Six basic conflict types you need to decide upon as you structure your story. The 21 genres listed, though not extensive (the fantasy genre was highly lacking), helped realize that there are other niches open to me as a writer and not pigeon-hole myself.

Part 2 - Building the Structure

Eleven structures from the traditional 3-Act format to some non-traditional formats. No 4- or 5-Act structures covered here, but when you think about what is presented you can have some creativity in combining elements of different structures or taking away.

Part 3 - Adding Stories

Fifty-five dramatic situations that expand on the traditional 36 are explained well with examples from contemporary movies/books.

Character types and their motivations are presents which drive the types of story options listed. This helped me consider some additional motivations for my characters in my stories.

Overall this is a fantastic reference.

The book is practically a book of lists to pick and choose and consider as you construct your story. No fifteen examples to support a point and fill pages. The author keeps things straight and to the point letting the 270 pages consist of meaty, helpful information and not fluff. A must have for any reference library.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A. Smitley on September 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
I just bought this book recently and devoured all of its contents from beginning to end in one long sitting. UNLIKE so many other books that claim to help a writer flesh out their novel and then only give vague refrences as to character and plot, this book just about details step-by-step how one can go about doing it.

Another reviewer commented that the print in the book is 'too small' and that it is very hard to read -NO. It has the same print size of any paperback novel.

Another reviewer said something about an error relating to the book saying that the book states that stories are either plot related or character related with the other taking second and then gives examples which are actually the same as each other. Well, i have the book in front of me and this is NOT true. What the book says is that (and you can skim the other reviews to find the one i'm talking about) plot driven stories have the characters REACTING to the events of the story and that character driven stories have the characters ACTING to cause the plot to further itself.

What this means is that in a character driven story if the main character(s) stop deciding to act, which will further the plot of the story because of what they then do, then the story would simply be over. Think of it like your main character deciding that they need milk for their cereal and decide to go to the store to get some. That decision furthers the plot but at any time during their trip to the store they could just as easily decide that they change their mind and don't need milk after all. Then they could just turn around and the story of them taking a trip to the store to buy milk would be over with their decision.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on August 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
Schmidt provides excellent coverage of the variegated structures of plot. The book is divided into four parts. The first explains how to plan a narrative. The second explains how to structure a plot. The third is a compendium of story structures. The fourth is a brief guide to research.

In the Part 1, Schmidt emphasizes character motivation and conflict. Unlike many books of its kind, "Story" clearly explains the relation between the "throughline," the conflict and the genre. If you aim to produce marketable works, this point is crucial. Schmidt covers this material at just the right depth, neither too theoretical nor too paraphrased.

However, in Part 1 you will find the only error in the book. The author makes a distinction between plot-driven stories and character-driven stories, but it is a distinction without a difference. According to Ms. Schmidt, a plot-driven story moves forward by events that "cause the characters to react to those events. Characters are secondary to the plot." On the other hand, a character-driven story moves ahead by "action and choices." Character-driven stories advance by the actions and choices of characters, while plot driven stories advance by the reactions of characters to events. The distinction claimed evaporates when we see that reactions invariably involve choices and actions, and moving ahead by "action and choices" invariably involves reaction to events.

For over 2,000 years, a good plot has been understood to be the logical and probable actions of characters. This is a plot-driven story. In some rare cases, the characters are not people, perhaps not even living. The long descriptive pieces in Hugo's "Toilers of the Sea" are a good example. A kind of story is told, but the characters are the Chanel Islands.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andre Pais on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not one of those guys who've read a thousand books on writing, so I'm not a pro. In fact, this is only the 3rd book I'm reading about fictional writing.

I bought this book hoping to find some help about structure and plot. What I found is that it gives the reader a lot of titles, but it under-develops the content of them, providing fewer examples than those I thought needed. I ended up with lists of structure models, dramatic situations and so on, but with very little clues on how to apply them.

In a way, I found that the author didn't know as much about the topic being discussed as she was supposed. It's like she's learned it from college, but lacks the deep, experiential understanding.

It's still a helpful book, but very shallow. I found "How to write a damn good novel" and "Writing fiction for dummies" much more enlightening.
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Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
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