Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure 5th Edition, Kindle 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.
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.