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Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish (Write Great Fiction) Paperback – 28 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 5 edition (28 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158297294X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582972947
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 15,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

A former trial lawyer, James Scott Bell is an award-winning author and frequent speaker at writing conferences.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I wasted ten years of prime writing life because of the Big Lie. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 64 people found the following review helpful By J Smith on 18 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read many books on plotting and structure, but this is probably the best so far. It doesn't offer a miracle cure for ailing plots, or promote a magical formula for coming up with the perfect novel, or divulge any flashy techniques - instead, it provides a nuts-and-bolts, back-to-basics guide to developing a strong foundation for your novel.

It has to be said that a lot of books on writing can come across as quite patronising - not so here. The book has a very friendly tone and puts its points across in a simple, straightforward manner that's always easy to read and often quite entertaining. There are many tips and exercises, all of which are practical and useful.

I read this before embarking on my current project, but I imagine it would be useful whatever state your novel's in, as many of the hints and tips can (and should be) applied throughout the whole novel-writing process. My copy is already covered in highlighter pen and scribbled notes in the margins, and I have no doubt that I'll be returning to it again and again. I see this book as an essential reference guide to the craft of plotting, and would encourage anyone who's serious about novel writing to invest in this. If you only buy one book on plotting and structure, I'd make it this one.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By biro man on 5 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
If your goal is to write and sell fiction, this book will guide you.

It gives a valuable overview of good structure, identifies all the key elements, then provides you with a 'toolkit' of methods for structuring your own work, and tackling problem areas. Some books just tell you what to do, this book also tells you how to go about it.

It's well laid out, well signposted, includes examples from popular novels, and provides exercises to help cement the learning points.

Reading it is like sitting with a friendly expert who is willing to pass on all his experience, and who encourages you to apply it to your own work. It's the best book on writing I've come across so far.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Michael Domnin on 25 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You will be taken by the hand on a step-by-step journey to write a good book.
Bell is a very sympathetic and empathic writer. He is thorough, and most of all an enabler.
He said that he had believed the Big Lie, i.e. writers are born; fortunately he passes on his skills extensively so you can allow yourself to learn the technique of efficient plotting to become a good writer and not believe the Big Lie that there are only privileged writers born with their skill.
Following this book, you too will penetrate the secrets of good writing and its creative pleasure. You will feel satisfied with a good structure for your novels. (He said that people who came to him for advice sold their own books!)
Have confidence in James Scott Bell, you will want to write following his pieces of advice.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Seraph on 10 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is everything I hoped it would be. I've recommended it to fellow aspiring writers I know.

Some great practical tips on how to get your plot started and ways to keep your ideas on track. It uses novels and films to clarify plot techniques and offers exercises at the end of each chapter.

I found the 'to outline or not to outline' part particularly useful in helping me decide which method works for me.

I have this by my side constantly as I soldier on with my first novel.

My first "how to write" book and worth every penny.
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68 of 76 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is simply wonderful! I read a lot of 'how-to' books and most of them are a waste of money. Worse, they are a waste of your time. Not so this one. I've done courses as well, but most teach you the art of the short story. When it comes to novels, though I am not exactly a novice with the written word there were some elements to my style that were lacking. Not so now!
The book is well written, easy and informative. It covers all the important elements of the craft in a clear and concise yet entertaining way. I won't bore you and list what those are - there's no point for I would have to write a novel here to list them. You are better off buying the book and discovering them for yourself. I simply cannot say enough good things about this book - it highlighted my strengths and my weaknesses so that I can now work to correct them. Sorry if I sound over enthusiastic but I feel as though I've found a rare treasure - an educational book that does precisely what it says it will.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike on 10 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the best books I've read on the subject of properly structuring a novel.
It's easy to read without being patronising (the opening passage is a notable exception) and uses references with which most readers will be familiar. It has become my 'go-to' book when I find I have written myself into a corner, and my copy is now full of Post-its, passages marked in yellow highlighter, and hastily scribbled notes.

If you wish to write a stream-of-consciousness novel or are aiming for a literary prize then this will probably not help you. If, however, you simply wish to learn the ins and outs of structuring a gripping plot then this is well worth a look. Think Jeffery Deaver or Tess Gerritsen rather than Brett Easton Ellis.

I love writing but will be the first to admit I'm not very good at it. This book has become invaluable to me - a welcome and useful companion as I struggle to become a better writer.
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