Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure

Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure

by James Scott Bell

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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 for crafting strong beginnings, middles, and ends
  • Easy-to-understand plotting diagrams and charts
  • Brainstorming techniques for original plot ideas
  • Thought-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter
  • Story structure models and methods for all genres
  • Tips and tools for correcting common plot problems

Filled with plot examples from popular novels, comprehensive checklists, and practical hands-on guidance, Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure gives you the skills you need to approach plot and structure like an experienced pro.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582976846
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/22/2004
Series: Write Great Fiction
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 116,454
File size: 843 KB

About the Author

James Scott Bell is the bestselling author of more than twenty novels, and is a Christy Award winner for Final Witness in 2000. His fiction has been reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and the Library Review. He's the author of Write Great Fiction: Plot & Structure, Write Great Fiction: Revision & Self-Editing, and The Art of War for Writers. He writes for Writer's Digest magazine. Bell has taught fiction writing courses at Pepperdine University and is a regular on the conference circuit. His website is www.jamesscottbell.com. He lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Putting the Big Lie to Sleep1
Chapter 1What's a Plot, Anyway?6
Chapter 2Structure: What Holds Your Plot Together22
Chapter 3How to Explode With Plot Ideas35
Chapter 4Beginning Strong56
Chapter 5Middles79
Chapter 6Endings99
Chapter 7Scenes113
Chapter 8Complex Plots130
Chapter 9The Character Arc in Plot141
Chapter 10Plotting Systems152
Chapter 11Revising Your Plot172
Chapter 12Plot Patterns180
Chapter 13Common Plot Problems and Cures194
Chapter 14Tips and Tools for Plot and Structure206
Appendix AChecklist: Critical Points223
Appendix BCreating Your Own Back Cover Copy229

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Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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, practical book. He responded, that same evening I believe, with a very kind note of thanks and well wishes for my own writing. I heard he was a nice guy. Now I know it's true. :-) Not that I've ever doubted it. Too many authors I know have said so.
falstaff1962 More than 1 year ago
Flat out the best book on writing I've run across. James Scott Bell's text is straight forward and clear, telling you a lot of things you didn't know (and confirming a lot of things you knew but didn't know you did). I doubt every writer will agree with him on everything- nor should you. A significant part of writing involves making a conscious decision to bend or break some of the rules set forth in the writing books. Bell fills his chapters with plenty of excellent examples from many genres, which means that anyone from a mystery to sci-fi to literary to everything in between.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best book I have EVER purchased for writing. It changes the way you think, orangize your novel and ultimately write. THE KEYS THAT THIS BOOK GIVES YOU, MAKES YOUR WORK PUBLISHABLE!!!! Absolutely, buy it. Your writing will change from amateur to professional!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am currently writing my fifth published novel and found this book to be very helpful in the process of both refining my plot and my characters. The writing is clear, insighful, and specific enough to be of real use. The examples and end-of-chapter questions are extremely useful. I highly recommend this excellent book both for beginning and seasoned novelists.
RARogers More than 1 year ago
If, like me, you are a novice writer and are looking for ways to improve your knowledge and expertise in a very competitive field, Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell is a "must have" for your library. He effectively covers everything we writers need to know about developing plots and structuring our works in a way that both attracts and keeps our readers reading - and that's what writing is all about. I found this book both interesting and informative, packed with ideas and suggestions I am now employing in my own literary efforts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
PLOT & STRUCTURE, by James Scott Bell, is a comprehensive look at these aspects of fiction. This is an insightful study of plot and structure, together with practical tips and exercises on how to improve skills. I didn¿t agree with all of the author¿s thinking and explanation, but this is certainly one of the best books on these subjects. This is one of four in the Write Great Fiction series by Writer¿s Digest Books: 1)Plot & Structure 2)Character, Emotion & Viewpoint 3)Description & Setting and 4)Dialogue. Each volume provides an in-depth, thought-provoking look at its subject matter. All four belong in a novelist¿s reference library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was about two weeks into the task of plotting and structuring a very convoluted time-travel novel when I received my copy of PLOT & STRUCTURE. I immediately delved into the book and gained valuable insights that enabled me to manage and harness the complexities of my story. And James Scott Bell doesn't merely instruct--he inspires. Let me show you what I mean. Near the end of the book, he writes: 'So what are you writing for? If it is only for money or fame, you'll miss the spark that makes both of those things possible. Go further. . . . Develop a vision for yourself as a writer. Make it something that excites you. Turn that into a mission statement--one paragraph that sums up your hopes and dreams as a writer. Read this regularly. Revise it from time to time to reflect your growth. . . . If you stay true to your own awe, your books cannot help being charged with meaning. That's not just a great way to write. It's a great way to live' [Page 204]. James Scott Bell has written a book you'll want to read straight through, then go back and refer to again and again. Powerful visual diagrams, practical exercises, techniques for brainstorming ideas, valuable tips and tools, and a checklist at the end makes this one of the most useful and user-friendly books on writing I've ever encountered. Whether you are an aspiring writer, just learning your trade, or an experienced pro, wanting to take your craft to the next level, I highly recommend PLOT & STRUCTURE.
Tiger_Lily85 More than 1 year ago
James Scott Bell has written a book both entertaining and useful for aspiring writers. This book contains many exercises and ideas for coming up with an original plot. There are many ways to develop and hone an existing plot. I loved this book and I would recommend it to anyone, but a word of caution: it won't make your plot for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you are published or just starting out, every writer should have Plot and Structure on his or her bookshelf. I have published three mysteries and I learned something from this book. Not only does Bell clearly explain structure, he also touches on other aspects of novel writing like character development. Bell writes in an informal easy to read style and even has a sprinkle of humor. The exercises at the end of each chapter are thought provoking and he provides numerous examples from bestsellers that make the concepts he is teaching easy to understand. This book is a good place to start for anyone thinking about writing a novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book out there! Perfect for writers of all genres and all ages.... a must buy! TWO THUNBS UP!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the book I wish I'd had years ago when I first started writing. This is the book I'm glad I have now even after 34 published books. Because Plot and Structure is a book that will guide, inspire and enlighten you no matter what stage you're in with your writing. It will help you get started with ideas, hook the reader with your first sentence, keep your story from drooping or stalling in the middle and carry you through to a knockout ending.
FloridaWriter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I learned more about writing an interesting story from this book than from all the other good writing books I've read. James Scott Bell distills the most crucial aspects of constructing an interesting plot into an easily read and understood book which should be a reference for beginning writers.
CKmtl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great two-for-one guide, encompassing advice on the construction of plot and scenes.Bell's writing style is engaging and encouraging to the new writer. His teaching style is replete with mnemonics/acronyms and diagrams; which I really appreciated as a slightly visual learner.The only theoretical downside I noticed was that he draws from modern commercial fiction and film for his examples. While I found this helpful, a new writer with high literary aspirations may be put off.
SimonHaynes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended. Despite the fact I have three novels in print, I will never stop devouring how-to books. This is one of the best I've read on the subject of plotting a gripping novel, giving plenty of detail and examples.
DonCapone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The best book on writing that I've ever read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
catburglar More than 1 year ago
An excellent textbook in plot planning and organization. Many useful exercises.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, though, it is not formatted to be read on the desktop version of the Nook, but can be read on the Nook itself. So be aware of the formatting issue. Overall the book is great.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great writer's guide! I'm hooked!
Romantic_at_HeartNY More than 1 year ago
I haven't finished reading the entire book, otherwise my rating would have been 5 stars. What I've read so far has held my interest, and gave me ideas to complete my novel. This book has done what writing classes have not been able to teach me: the plot and structure of a novel. Thank you James Scott Bell.
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