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The Plot Machine: Design Better Stories Faster Kindle Edition
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For someone coming to it without a background of reading and practice in the field, I suspect it might seem overly simplistic and the methods hard to follow or stick to. It's only once you've learned the hard way that fuzziness in thinking about your story leads to fuzzy, muddled results that the true value of this book becomes apparent. I can say with confidence that if I'd found this book two years ago, I wouldn't have "got it" at all.
It doesn't distinguish between plot and structure as some do, rather it teats structure as an aspect of a plot, something it always exhibits in one form or another, a position which is hard to dispute.
It doesn't deal with every kind of plot. It isn't a method well suited to producing plots where the protagonist doesn't really have an arc. However, it's excellent for any kind of protagonist-centric story where you want a strong arc. Despite not being aimed primarily at literary fiction, it would be very useful to a literary fiction writer that appreciates structure. The language is quite different to some other books that categorize plots in a different way, but it turns out more useful than any system that says one label can describe a plot. For example, William Bernhardt says there are five kinds of plots. While his system of division isn't useless, it isn't powerful because it provides only limited, vague information about a plot. Kutzera's system says far more.
I found that many other books provided systems that seemed to make sense while you were reading, but when you tried to apply them, they were too vague to be effective. The brutal simplification this book encourages, and the clean-cut methods of doing it, are a great aid in per-planning a story so it really has strong bones, or evaluating why an existing story is weak.
With the tool-kit of concepts in this book, you can easily take stories apart and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
Another strength of this book is the order it suggests, the priority of working. By focussing on issues in the right order, the characteristics of the protagonist flow from the plot and reinforce it. This method is easy to apply, rather than trying to work out how to drape a plot onto a character concept, which is hard. The focus on essential parts of the story is better than simplistic advice like "write from the end backwards".
If only more screen-writers would pay attention to this book I think we'd be spared a huge number of dismal movies and lacklustre television.
But this is not mechanical; the purpose is to stimulate the imagination by creating an understanding of plot elements. So far, I like it.