- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 2 edition (January 17, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582972397
- ISBN-13: 978-1582972398
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them 2nd Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
For each one there is an example, an analysis of the example and a three-act structure for using the plot. There is also a checklist at the end of each plot so you have some idea what you should be doing to develop this plot in a successful manner.
eg plot 3 the pursuit: the checklist is
* the chase is more important than the people who take part in it
* Make sure there's a real danger of the pursued getting caught
* your pursuer should have a reasonable chance of catching the pursued; they may even catch them momentarily
* rely heavily on physical action
* Your story and your characters should be stimulating, engaging and unique
* Develop your characters and situations against type to avoid cliches
* keep your situations as geographically confined as possible; the smaller the area the greater the tension
* The first dramatic phase should have 3 stages. a) establish the ground rules for the chase b) establish the stakes and c)start the race with a motivating incident
okay this book does a slightly cookbook feel about plot developement, but for those new to the game, what's wrong with getting a little support and help? Consider it a training manual for plotting! And sure you might not agree with the checklists and the manner...but don't you see, that it's getting you thinking about it too! So even if you hate it, you still gain because it pushes you to refute or accept or partially accept what it presents, and this requires effort. Effort creates thought, which leads to understanding and the development of your own ideas! So where's the problem! The only problem is if you're looking for a 'do-it-for-me'...sorry you miss out here.
Apart from the exposition of each of the 20 plots there are chapters (as listed in the table of contents) involving triangular relationships, structure, motivations, the basics of plotting: the things that are always the same.
Seriously for $10 you get a lot of book. It has some really useful content here. I am an engineer and have written two fictional novels (neither published, since I never realy tried to get them published). Yeah scary huh? A literate engineer! That aside, it appeals to my 'generalize the solution space' nature and make a solution that is readily acceptable, decipherable and accessible (there was once a british engineer who went to the local library, found out the most popular childrens books, analyzed them for the common characteristics and plots and then wrote his own...hey it's ugly but it worked!)
Just remember that there is no substitute for actually writing. Nothing will write for you. It is not a panacea. It won't give you ideas nor will it make you a good wordsmith. It will guide and help you to develop one of the major stumbling blocks in writing: having a story that actually goes somewhere (you just have to be sure you avoid being 'formulaic' and applying a given plot too rigidly- remember it's a guide, not a blueprint!). Great characters doing nothing don't interest too many poeple outside of the literary criticism clique. I'm sure it makes them cringe because one doesn't do these things...circumventing the process of suffering for ones art.
Great value for money, well written, using examples we all know and it's cheap. What more could you want? Definitely 5 stars!
The first chapter, titled 'Invisible Fiction', sets the mood for what's to come. The author expresses his opinions on plots and the many forms, how they all originate from a top three to be broken down into a 'top 20' for easier following. Chapter two, ' The Lowest Common Plot Denominators', discusses building tension through opposition, the three sections of a story (beginning, middle, and end), and other crucial things a plot requires to stay alive. Chapter 3, 'The Strong Force', is short in length, basically informing the reader what a 'character driven plot is' versus a 'plot driven' one.
Chapter four, 'Deep Structure', focuses on themes and moral arguments, while chapter five, 'Triangles', is an interesting, unique way to see characters and how they interact with each other.
After this, we finally begin the '20 plots', each divided by chapter. Each goes through all three 'acts' of the plot (again: beginning, middle, end), ending with a checklist to recap all that has been learned.
The wrap up chapter, 'Parting Shots', reminds you that the book is not a guide etched in stone and that rules are made to be broken. It's also stated that many times a plot is a mixture of two or more basic '20 Master Plots'.
At 232 pages, this book covers quite a bit. I was enthused as the sections, and recognized many of the 'patterns', but was left wanting in other areas. The information was useful, but if you read it straight through, many of the plot types repeat the same thing and it becomes redundant and dull. Also, some held examples of other novels and stories to illustrate what the author meant. I loved this; it enabled me to get a firmer grasp on things. Unfortunitely many of the plots don't have as many examples, or none at all, and I missed it when they did.
Wrapping up, this is a great resource guide for writers. If you have trouble with plotting, pick this up for a reasonable price. Heck, even if you don't, still pick it up for there are things out there you may not know about yet. On the downside it wasn't the most interesting thing to read, was a bit redundant, other times not being consistent enough.
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Long story short, this book is for writers.Read more