20 Master Plots and How to Build Them Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0898795950
ISBN-10: 0898795958
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Product Details

  • File Size: 917 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 1 edition (September 15, 1993)
  • Publication Date: September 15, 1993
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LIYZJ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #610,600 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Thompson on January 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
If you've looked inside the book yet then you've noted the twenty master plots that are exposed in this book. So I won't list them here.
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'...
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Format: Paperback
'20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them' is a well thought out idea that falls a little short in it's delivery, but in the end saves itself through originality.

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.
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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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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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