- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 5 edition (October 6, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 158297294X
- ISBN-13: 978-1582972947
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 364 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish 5th Edition
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About the Author
A former trial lawyer, James Scott Bell is the award-winning author of numerous thrillers, including the Ty Buchanan series (Try Dying, Try Darkness, Try Fear). He is also the author of two other popular writing books: Revision & Self-Editing, and The Art of War for Writers. A frequent teacher and keynoter at writing conferences, he resides in Los Angeles.
Top customer reviews
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As a writer, I am a "seat of the pants" guy, who's reluctantly recognized it isn't working for me (a major motivation for getting this book). Bell's discussion of different styles of outlining, though brief, gave me ideas of how to proceed. While I've often read books that include exercises, I confess to rarely doing them -- Bell is an exception (no, I didn't do *all* of them, but.... :) ). His text uses plenty of examples, drawn from movies and well-known novels. I've read other works on plot and structure (both general books and at least two dedicated to these topics), and have found this one to be by far the most readable, instructive, easy-to-digest, and *helpful.*
This book is interesting to read and offers solid examples. I didn't even get halfway through before I bought another of his books. I would highly recommend it to authors.
Some of the things I've read before started to make more sense. I'm going through a couple of the books I have in the editing stage and taking a hard look at them. Do they meet the requirements this book says they must have?
I highly recommend this book. Why 4 stars instead of 5? Well I prefer giving 3 or 4 stars to books because sometimes I think 5 star reviews are not taken as seriously, although they probably carry more weight than a 1 star review.
Really I'd like to give this 4 1/2 stars. If you read this far consider that done. :-)
The author loves acronyms. In Chapter 1, he introduces the LOCK system. L for Lead, O for Objective, C for Conflict and K for Knockout Ending. On page 51, he introduces his own creation: the 3P's of Bell's Pyramid. They are Precision, Potential and Passion. In Chapter 5, he uses ARM (Action, Reaction and More Action) to inject vitality into a scene.
I find "Chapter 10: Plotting Systems" to be the most useful. This chapter alone is better than the entire "Outlining Your Novel" by K.M. Weiland. Under "Systems for OPS", James Scott Bell gives an overview of (1)Index Card System, (2) The Headlights System, (3) The Narrative Outline, (4) The David Morrell Method, and (5) The Borg Outline. (1) and (5) contain sufficient details to translate theory into practice. "Chapter 13: Common Plot Problems and Cures" is also jammed with many razor-sharp tips. "How to Improve Your Plotting Exponentially" on pages 214 and 215 is a real nugget. Scott lists ten steps to -- let me borrow a phrase from Mao Tze Tung -- "make a great leap forward" in your plotting skills. Great advice is contained within these two pages.
Appendix A is a checklist of critical points in plot, structure, beginnings, middles, endings, scenes, etc.