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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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Top Customer Reviews
One of my pet peeves with any non-fiction book is the use of too many examples to fill pages vs. giving me hard content I can walk away with and attempt to use. This isn't the case here. I felt that 90% of the book was pure content with a sprinkle of examples to further prove the author's point. Thank you Mr Bell!!
You can click "Look Inside This Book" at the top of this product page and you should. The author deftly covers the whole gambit of What's a Plot, Anyway? to Plotting Systems (a great chapter regardless on your style of plotting), to Tips & Tools for Plot and Structure.
As with the rest of the books in the series, the icing on the cake for the impatient ones in the world is Appendix A, which lists the authors main points in the book in bulletted form. For those of us who stick with it, this was a wonderful summary of the previous 200pages we just journeyed through.
My recommended plotting plan:
1) Read this book for an overview of plotting and some real world tools that can be applied to the process
2) Pick up The Marshall Plan of Novel Writing by Evan Marshal or First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner. Both of these books take many of the concepts listed in this book and put them into templates and forms you can fill out to plot your novel
3) Write. Write. Write.
Don't do what I did and spend the last ten years reading more on writing than actually writing. Get that first 1 million words written asap!! While you are doing it, read this book which has a permanent place on my book shelf as a handy reference and reminder of what makes a successful plot.
Bell addresses just about every aspect of plotting I could think of, from "What's a Plot, Anyway?" to generating ideas, dealing with beginnings (and middles, and endings), handling individual scenes, crafting complex plots, integrating character arc into plot, different systems of crafting plot, revising plots, plot patterns, plot problems, cures for plot problems, and even checklists to go through to make sure you're remembering everything as you write your book.
One of Bell's major contributions to plot theory is his "LOCK" system, which stands for Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout. In order to have a gripping plot you must have a lead, he must have an objective, there must be confrontation, and the ending must have "knockout power." There are a million-and-ten possible variations on this simple structure, but this basic idea alone can help a struggling writer to get a grip on the basics of plot.
I highly recommend "Plot & Structure" for anyone who writes or plans to write fiction. It's been a while since I sat down to write fiction, but this book makes me want to sit and work on a novel right this moment. It's clear, coherent, practical, and immensely useful to any student of the craft.
Every Writers Digest Book regardless of the title is 200 pages long and has brief chapters on these same topics. Writers Digest Books has been re-cycling the same information for thirty years, each time with a new title and a different author. (And now they're calling it "Great"!) Even one of the admiring reviews below admits that all of this information has already appeared in other books! When are readers going to figure out that they are buying the same stuff over and over?
If you're a beginning writer and are reading this material for the first time, that's fine. If not, it's time to break out of the Writers Digest cycle and get on with your career. For instance, Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel is a better book on plot and it doesn't waste your time with chit-chat. Draughon's Advanced Writing ( Advanced Writing: Fiction and Film )will help you understand what you're doing and why and enable you to do it better. Rennie Browne's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers will teach you how to revise.
And by the way, "structure" is poorly understood even by professional writers. Beginning-middle-end is not structure. What is structured is the dynamic elements of a novel and its various appeals.
So, unless you're a beginner and new to WDB, look beyond Writers Digest Books for the next step up in your development.
As with most writing books, this book won't teach you everything and some things you'll find helpful and some things you won't. Some of the lessons I took away were how to structure your book in three acts, how each scene must contain suspense, and of course how you should show, not tell. Also, your hero and villian must have adhesive, ie, there must be a reason the hero can't just walk away from the villain. Bell also emphasizes the importance of constantly looking for ideas to make your plot original and to not be afraid to let your mind wander and fill your story with some crazy, outrageous ideas. You can always cut them out later.
Bell is a strong advocate that you can learn to write well. While some people are born great writers and some aren't, even the best writers have to hone their craft and develop their potential. So, if through trial and error or rejection slips has caused you to think you weren't born to be a great writer, you may be wrong. This book will help you evolve into the great writer you were born to be, or at least improve upon your current meandering novel.
This is fun book to read and Bell is a great teacher.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It greatly supported me with my writing and gave me a new perspective on story structure.Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
I just recently received this book and it is a very good read. Easy to understand and provides an amazing how to guide on developing plots and structuring. Read morePublished 4 days ago by kayd80
It was very clear and easy to follow. Using the examples from popular books made it easy to see the techniques he was teaching.Published 13 days ago by Jill M. Oliver
This is a really helpful book with a lot of ideas that are easy to comprehend and execute. Bell's advice helped me to significantly improve my writing.Published 28 days ago by R. A. Kramer
Great book, well structured and very informative. Very useful for the beginner writer and maybe also for the seasoned readers - I, for sure, started to look with different eyes now... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cati C
We used this book as a study for the Wolf Creek Christian Writers Network. Everyone in the group has gained valuable tools for every different type of writing. Thank you so much.Published 1 month ago by Lynn
James Scott Bell provides a very entertaining story on how to write, highly recommend if you desire to improve your writingPublished 1 month ago by Henry Cerny
Highly recommend for writers. Bell writes superior nuts and bolts writing books.Published 2 months ago by capt367272