- File Size: 981 KB
- Print Length: 296 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; Fifth edition (September 22, 2004)
- Publication Date: September 22, 2004
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B001UISGV6
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,697 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting and Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish Fifth Edition, Kindle Edition
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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.*
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.
Whether you are new to writing or an established author wanting to freshen your technique, this book provides extremely useful insights to move you along nicely. Better yet, you’ll know why many functions are performed as they are - and where you can bend or break the rules!
Informative. Well written. Clear. This is one book that should be a part of every author’s tool box.
Top international reviews
Which is all true. Particularly the bit about the diagrams. They really are just shapes with words tagged on. Bad, bad diagrams.
BUT, and it’s a big but which is why I put in capitals, this book is well done. It makes no pretences to be talking about literary fiction, but it does make connections to where the commercial meets the literary, and that’s a rather exciting step in a world that tends to consider good writing an unnecessary element of, erm, good writing. And it does an excellent job of laying out the key elements of how to write a story that people will read.
It really comes into its own in the latter chapters, particularly the one in which he sets out several different systematic methods by which you can put together your plot depending on your writing style. This is great. If you’re a first timer, you could do a hell of a lot worse than work through the system presented here (I know I did – the first books on writing I read were utter rubbish compared to this).
So, if you’re a first timer looking for a book to help you get started, this is an excellent choice. It’s down to earth and full of good advice. If you’re an experienced writer and need a little help getting going, this is a good choice as well. His repeated emphasis on having “no going back” points in the story helped me with a book I’m drafting, so that was worth the cover price at all. Sometimes we all need a fresh look at the basics.