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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most constructive., 22 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish (Write Great Fiction) (Paperback)
This review is based on personal experience and is penned in a bid to help other aspiring writers.

I have been writing about scuba diving and shipwrecks for several years (my first piece appeared in 1978!), and my books have won awards. That genre, however, involves research and describing whatever I find underwater.

Quite separately, for many years I have been working on a novel only to discover Fiction is not as easy as it might appear - even for a modestly successful writer such as myself. Fiction is not about my ability to tell a particular story. Instead, it requires me to learn how to weave intrigue into the everyday life of the central character so that the reader WANTS to continue reading. For example, a Memoirs or Biography is the retelling of a series of events - year by year, as they happen to the subject of the work. The life of a fictional character, however, cannot be a series of stories without the addition of unanswered questions and other events of which he is unaware (the intrigue!) along the way. In my case; yes I have a central plot, yes there is sex and violence (in moderation!) and yes the outcome is exciting. That however, is not enough and is why I have found myself starting and shelving the book over many years.

Finally, I recently purchased a number of books about writing techniques and the various lessons I need to learn. I am studying each in turn and each will be reviewed in time.

As the cover of `Write Great Fiction - Plot & Structure' by James Scott Bell suggests, this book gives an insight into "Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish." Already, I have learned a great deal and would suggest any would-be author of Fiction should study this excellent work.

Laid out with 14 chapters and 2 appendices, each heading covers a different element of the overall craft of writing in an easy-to-understand way which (as you should expect!) is also well written. Different aspects of writing apply to different authors, so I will not go into specific detail. Suffice to say Plot is explained from every conceivable angle and Structure is revealed as the central element which holds it all together. To that end we have chapters on; Beginnings, Middles, Ends, Sub-plots, Complex Plots in addition to problem solving and much more besides.

Within a few moments of starting, I found myself making copious notes relevant to my own novel as I continued reading. In no time at all, I had learned lesson about the development of the central character - who, incidentally MUST become altered by the events he experiences (I hadn't thought to describe such changes - but, of course, we are all changed by life itself).

Most important of all, this book asks the would-be writer to ask themselves the most important question of all; "Why should the reader want to continue reading your book?," and once I have answered that question to my own satisfaction I will finally have finished my novel!

Altogether, thoroughly recommended.

NM
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Ned Middleton
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   

Location: British professional underwater photo-journalist & author

Top Reviewer Ranking: 25