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Showing 1-10 of 75 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 135 reviews
on September 27, 2007
I have used this book to teach plotting to creative writing students, so my review is based on how well absolute novice writers respond to the ideas he puts forth in this book. On the whole, they respond positively. Once they grasp the standard three-act structure of a plot, they find his scene-sequel formula to be IMMENSELY helpful figuring out how to work out options for rising action. A few students complain that they don't like being taught a *formula*, and it seems a few reviewers have that gripe as well.

I'll say here what I say in class. First, if a formula happens to have been successful (as you can see if you break down almost any movie or popular novel), eh, maybe just this once it might be worth your time to learn it. Just file it away somewhere or something. Second, just because Bickham advocates a linear tic-tock scene-sequel way of composing your plot, that does not mean, nor does Bickham anywhere say, that you have to TELL the story in simple lockstep straightforward chronology. Once you have the basic idea of what's going to happen and why, you can start the story whenever you darn well please. You can start just at the climax, if you want, and tell the story through disconnected flashbacks, so that readers have to piece together the shards into the picture of the story arc. You can tell the story as an epistolary novel. You can tell it by varied protagonists. The only limit is imagination of the author. If you hate this book because you can't figure out new and creative ways to apply his basic formula, that doesn't necessarily equate with the *book* being worthless.

My students are grateful because (and remember they're all fledgling writers) this book's ideas give them handles to grasp when they sit down to write. I don't advocate the whole 'scene goal clearly stated to the reader' thing Bickham states, but if you as the WRITER have no idea what the scene goal is, or how things are going to wind up worse for the protagonist, chances are pretty high there will be a high Flounder Quotient in your plotting. All in all, it's worth your time and money as long as you are willing to view it as a plotting aid device and not the Magic Potion of Writing. It's a skeleton upon which one can reliably hang decent stories: my students are invariably impressed at the end of the semester both at their own ingenuity in storytelling and how they managed to create a story that *moves* and unfolds logically.
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on December 3, 2014
The book is a bit tough to wade through but I’m sure there are plenty of great takeaways for someone who’s more structured than I am.

There are plenty of chapters that help writers to agonize over the nuts and bolts of how to structure a novel. I feel like I need to somehow get my mindset into “if something's boring then it must be good for you”.

Or not.

But I did learn a few key points involving how to pose a dramatic question and most importantly: “What is my book really about and am I getting this across?"
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on August 26, 2015
I don't often say, "the one book you really need" but if you are serious about improving your writing, this may be indispensable. At first glance, I was a bit put off by what I took to be a "formula writing," mechanical approach, but after I got over the "how can you treat such a creative act" feeling, and told myself, "this really applies to the mechanical side of the process, the how to, not the what to," and studied what Bickham was saying, I saw a dramatic improvement in my writing, (verified by those who read it).
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on April 9, 2015
This is one awesome book. Yes, it is easy to read, but will take some time to master the concepts such as cause and effect, and stimulus and response. These really are the building blocks of any story. I thought I had a clue as to how to write a sharp and engaging story. This book opened up a whole new world to me.

Of course there are other components of the craft, such as voice, character, and the like that need to be mastered, but plotting out engaging scenes that link to one another through scene and sequel, is the framework upon which the other writing disciplines hang.

Enough said. Excellent book.
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on December 4, 2012
I read one and two star reviews. But I also read the whole book. As my title of my rewiew says this book gives tips for writing scenes and sequels. You don't have to follow each step and use it as a formula. It should help you to notice weak points of your structure and where to improve your own writing. I love literary fiction, but many new writers tend to write sequels and scenes that have nothing to do with their story. It slows down the readers. After reading this book, I just keep more than a few things in mind to see where I can raise the stakes or make things harder for the protagonist. What questions I can raise in readers' minds? It gives you tips to help you hook readers and know where you went on a rabbit trail.
Yes, the author writes suspense or thrillers. Not all writers write that way. I don't. Also, the writer have shown examples that fail DPOV for example. Now, writers are taught to involve readers so they can experience themselves the journey. The author used his own examples using summaries and passive voice. Restating the goal in each scene may sound repetive. Resist the urge to explain things alerady said. Readers will thank you.
Anyway, this book was worth reading. I learned, and it answered some of the questions that I had. But be prepared that this book is a bit hard to read. It may help or hurt your creativity. It depends on you. Use what your heart tells you and leave the rest. Happpy writing.
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on September 29, 2016
Where has this book been all my life?! If I told you all about the student loan debt I'm in trying to write a bestseller, you'd cry. I do. But this book is all I will ever need. That my reaction to reading his bio was an effusive, "The Apple Dumpling Gang?! I loved that movie!" I was sold. Seriously, this is the only book you'll ever need, my friends.
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on May 5, 2014
I would recommend this book to all my friends who are novelists, and to newbie writers as well. However, if you're a newbie, you might not be ready for this book. I know I wasn't when I started out. I had stories to write and I just wanted to hit the ground running. Structure, smucture. Who needed it? And I did okay. I'm now working on my tenth book. But over the past couple of years I've begun to read more and more writing books (32, to be exact), looking for ways to improve. Out of all those books, this one has been one of the most valuable to me (and this is not the first book I've read about structure).

Check out the sample. It will tell you exactly what the book is all about. And if that doesn't make you want to read it, then either you're already well-versed in structure and understand its importance, or you're just not ready.
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on September 18, 2017
A box of printers ink dynamite that explodes when you read it cover to cover. Better than a day at the beach.
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on August 11, 2015
I'd give this book 4 (maybe even 5) stars, except the digital edition I got is chock full of goofs, including random insertions of linked chapter titles smack in the middle of the text. It's a shame, because this is a classic book on solid fiction structure.
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on June 10, 2015
Authors will learn from this book what's missing from every other instruction manual. How to hook a reader and keep them hooked--regardless of
Your genre or personal style. A must-have.
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