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Paperback Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish Book

ISBN: 158297294X

ISBN13: 9781582972947

Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish

(Part of the Write Great Fiction Series)

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Book Overview

Craft an Engaging Plot How does plot influence story structure? What's the difference between plotting for commercial and literary fiction? How do you revise a plot or structure that's gone off course? With Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure , you'll discover the answers to these questions and more. Award-winning author James Scott Bell offers clear, concise information that will help you create a believable and memorable plot, including: - Techniques...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

Digestible and Practical

This book provides a lot of practical exercises for the concepts it's teaching. It's something more writing reference books need.

Offers great insight and specific exercises for plotters!

Full of exercises, examples, excerpts and commentary for anyone having trouble with plot.

A must have. No exaggeration!

From the multitude of writing books I've read, this one ranks in my top 5 of all time books on the craft. The author does an excellent job of breaking down what we as authors/readers too often make an overly complex process. He explains why some stories just work and how we as aspiring author can do the same. 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.

Excellent resource

Two novel ideas ago, I had to put that one aside because I stuffed it to the point where the story made no sense. I intend to go back to it at some point, but for now, it's collecting dust. Also collecting dust is my more recent idea. I started with an outline (of sorts), wrote and rewrote it a few times...only to get stuck on Chapter 8 or so. I didn't know where to take the story. This one will probably never get resurrected...but you never know. Which leads me to one of the best things in this book: outlining with index cards. There's at least one other book touting this, but I'm sure there are others that do. What sets this one apart, in my mind, is his suggestions on how to set it up. This doesn't comprise a huge part of the book, but it made enough sense to me that I decided to give it a whirl. Almost 50,000 words later, I'm still chugging along, taking into mind his ideas (I'd never heard it put quite this way) about doorways of no return (more on that in a moment). Sure, I've made some changes, throwing out cards, rearranging cards, adding cards. That's the beauty of this system: it's not set in granite. If your muse takes you in a way that's different from what you originally wrote, go for it! Mr. Bell explains the doorways simply, at first, as transitions - from beginning to middle and then middle to ending. The first doorway gets your Main Character from beginning to middle; the idea is to create a scene where the MC is thrust into conflict in a way that keeps him/her there. With the second doorway (middle to ending), something has to happen to set up the final confrontation. It's usually a huge clue, a big piece of information, or a major crisis that sends the MC hurtling towards the conclusion. Mr. Bell explains these in greater detail, and I found his explanations quite understandable. But there's more to this book than that. Mr. Bell gets into how to come up with plot ideas, character arcs, revising, plot problems and cures, scenes, and tips and tools. I wasn't bothered by his reusing some of the same good writing examples, but it may make you cringe or roll your eyes. Other than that minor quibble, I think everything else about this book makes it shine as a writer's resource.

JSB Dispels The Lie!

There are a lot of books out there whose author claims they'll teach you how to write a novel. It's been my experience that most of them are full of fluff. Not this one. In the book's introduction Bell speaks about The Lie. I've heard. I know you've heard it. Or at least felt it as you looked at your writing and that of published authors. The Lie is that writers are born. In other words you can't be taught how to write. You either can do it or you can't. End of story. Bell confesses that he burned ten years of writing time in belief of this lie. That comforts me. I've always written something. It started with what we now call journaling. Then went to poetry and song writing. Then short stories and scripts. Finally novels. But somewhere along the way I bought The Lie. I didn't know any of the techiques and methods. I didn't know what to do with a manuscript once I finished one. So I never did. Until this year. I have one completed novel manuscript and two more in the works. I own this accomplishment, in part, to James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure put out by Writer's Digest. He wanted to make things simple and accessible for the average Joe. I believe he accomplishes this goal. I now understand things that for a long time eluded me. Things like Character Arcs and the Three Act Structure. I'd read other books claiming to explain these things and came to the final page of said books scratching my head. That one novel I've finished? I was writing it when I picked a copy of P & S. One piece of advise changed my manuscript immediately. I had a good idea. I just didn't start the thing in a way that would compel must folks to want to continue after the first paragraph. With Bell's advice in hand, I rewrote the first chapter and saw a whole new novel and greater potential. And that was just one piece of advice. He covers everything I could think to ask if I could sit with him for a couple hours and pick his brain. And more I never thought of. He explains what a plot is. Developing plot ideas. Stong beginnings. Continuing middles (arguably one of the most difficult things about writing a novel). And ending well so that you and the reader resolve the plot. He provides several pieces of advice to help you learn plot. He explains a simple way to develop plot, The LOCK system. He talks about characters, settings, dialogue, action, reaction. He discusses various plots that are used over and over again successfully. He shares what he calls the BELL Pyramid in the chapter on ideas. He covers hooks to keep your reader turning those pages. He explains scenes in detail; the different kinds and how they work. There is so much to this amazing book. I haven't given you half of what's in there. I want you to find out for yourself. By this book! If you've ever dreamed of writing a novel, this book will give you the tools and teach you how to use them properly. After reading Plot & Structure I emailed JSB to thank him for writing such a wonderful, pra

It's time to plot your next book!

Bell starts from the assertion that anyone can learn to craft a good plot. Whether you prefer to plan every detail of your stories in advance or fly by the seat of your pants, you can still learn all the elements of an engaging story and use them to draw your reader in. Bell has spent a great deal of time analyzing the plot structures of those books that consistently draw people in, and he has come up with a number of systems, theories and exercises which he shares in this book. 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.

Plot and Structure . . . and a whole lot more.

PLOT & STRUCTURE is billed as a how-to book on writing fiction, focusing on plotting and story structure. And it does all that as well as any book I've ever seen. But what I really like about the book is how well it integrates plotting with all the other skills a novelist needs to master--creativity, research, character development, theme, and the logistics to put it all together. James Scott Bell begins with an inspirational "you can do it" chapter that will light a novel-writing fire in the belly of any life form more complex than a squid. He then takes two full chapters to give some hands-on explanations of what a Plot is and why it needs Structure. The next chapter, on how to stimulate your creativity (and how NOT to), is pure gold. This chapter applies to all areas of writing, not just your plotting. Bell then moves on to the staples of plotting, with chapters on the high-level issues of Beginnings, Middles, Ends, and the lower-level problem of how to write a Scene. You can find books elsewhere that explain some of this in more detail, but you won't find a BETTER explanation anywhere. Bell consistently gets to the heart of the matter, says his piece, and gets out. Having laid a solid foundation, Bell moves on to other aspects of writing, showing how each ties in to Plot: Theme, Complexity, and Character. He presents two chapters on the logistics of writing--one for the initial creation of the novel, and one for the analysis and revision after the thing is written and is lying on your desk in a heap of writhing manuscript. A chapter with a standard catalog of plot patterns rounds out this section. James Scott Bell is an accomplished novelist who has paid those pesky writing dues several times over. In the next-to-last chapter, he makes a down payment on YOUR dues--by giving you a very practical list of things that can go wrong and what you can do to fix them. He wraps up with a punchlist of tips you can use to move your level of writing up a notch. I've published half a dozen novels and my seventh is on the operating table awaiting the knife. Bell's book has me itching to get scrubbed and go commit some surgery right this instant.

Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish Mentions in Our Blog

Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish in NaNoWriMo Time!
NaNoWriMo Time!
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 06, 2019

Are you an aspiring author? National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, is an online writing project, which began 20 years ago in 1999. The objective? Write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November? Ready, set, go!

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