- Series: Elements of Fiction Writing
- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 1st edition (March 15, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0898799066
- ISBN-13: 978-0898799064
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 135 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Scene & Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing) 1st Edition
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I'll say here what I say in class. First, if a formula happens to have been successful (as you can see if you break down almost any movie or popular novel), eh, maybe just this once it might be worth your time to learn it. Just file it away somewhere or something. Second, just because Bickham advocates a linear tic-tock scene-sequel way of composing your plot, that does not mean, nor does Bickham anywhere say, that you have to TELL the story in simple lockstep straightforward chronology. Once you have the basic idea of what's going to happen and why, you can start the story whenever you darn well please. You can start just at the climax, if you want, and tell the story through disconnected flashbacks, so that readers have to piece together the shards into the picture of the story arc. You can tell the story as an epistolary novel. You can tell it by varied protagonists. The only limit is imagination of the author. If you hate this book because you can't figure out new and creative ways to apply his basic formula, that doesn't necessarily equate with the *book* being worthless.
My students are grateful because (and remember they're all fledgling writers) this book's ideas give them handles to grasp when they sit down to write. I don't advocate the whole 'scene goal clearly stated to the reader' thing Bickham states, but if you as the WRITER have no idea what the scene goal is, or how things are going to wind up worse for the protagonist, chances are pretty high there will be a high Flounder Quotient in your plotting. All in all, it's worth your time and money as long as you are willing to view it as a plotting aid device and not the Magic Potion of Writing. It's a skeleton upon which one can reliably hang decent stories: my students are invariably impressed at the end of the semester both at their own ingenuity in storytelling and how they managed to create a story that *moves* and unfolds logically.
There are plenty of chapters that help writers to agonize over the nuts and bolts of how to structure a novel. I feel like I need to somehow get my mindset into “if something's boring then it must be good for you”.
But I did learn a few key points involving how to pose a dramatic question and most importantly: “What is my book really about and am I getting this across?"
Of course there are other components of the craft, such as voice, character, and the like that need to be mastered, but plotting out engaging scenes that link to one another through scene and sequel, is the framework upon which the other writing disciplines hang.
Enough said. Excellent book.
Yes, the author writes suspense or thrillers. Not all writers write that way. I don't. Also, the writer have shown examples that fail DPOV for example. Now, writers are taught to involve readers so they can experience themselves the journey. The author used his own examples using summaries and passive voice. Restating the goal in each scene may sound repetive. Resist the urge to explain things alerady said. Readers will thank you.
Anyway, this book was worth reading. I learned, and it answered some of the questions that I had. But be prepared that this book is a bit hard to read. It may help or hurt your creativity. It depends on you. Use what your heart tells you and leave the rest. Happpy writing.