- 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: #24,954 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
Think of writing as a journey through the woods: You set up, you get in the muddle, and you come out (hopefully) on the other side. When doing this, we try to use as many tools and resources as we can to make it to the other side, but most of the time you fail (or tools fail on you) and you end up starving or being eaten by some wild animal in the muddle of the story. What James Scott Bell wants you to have in clear is that the most useful tool you can have out there is YOU. And all of his tips, advice and excercises are aimed to one thing and one thing only: how to unleash and harness the power of your story (and survive).
It provides clear, straight-forward tools and tips, adressing many aspects of the writing process you won't find in many of them. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the study of plots and storytelling. Relevant examples that take in consideration a wide array of writer profiles, and Bell does not abuse with film examples (and most of the movies it references are also books i.e.: the maltesse falcon, the godfather, etc.). It contains useful excercises at the end of each chapter to help you put the tehcniques in practice and bring the best out of your learning experience. It really helped me overcome several issues I had with my novel-writing and opened my mind to a new scope on plot and str.. This is a wonderful book, written in the same gripping style that the author suggests to use, and with great success.
I think this is a wonderful book because it does not give infalible advice. To me that is very important. Let me ilustrate how I felt by giving you the following example:
(after developing content)
-Regular book: so just do This (and fail, miserably).
-Bell's book: Many writers had this problem before and by doing This you might also find a solution for it. In case That doesn't work, you could maybe try This, or come back at it again later on with a fresh view and give it another try.
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.