Friday, February 11, 2011

"Write Great Fiction" by James Scott Bell (Book Review)

When I first began writing--at least for reasons other than those forced upon me by the state and federal government--I had thought that writing a story would be relatively easy. I’ve read hundreds of books after all. You’ve got a hero, little romance, little action--and BAM. Bestseller.
After about 50,000 words I started to realize something was missing. As it turns out, it’s called a “plot,” and most professional writers highly recommend you have a pretty cohesive one.
If you have experienced a similar revelation or are just struggling to keep your story moving, then “Plot and Structure” by James Scott Bell might be is a good place to start. 
I have read most of the books in the “Write Great Fiction” series and found them to be a very helpful introduction. Much of what they talk about are things that I theoretically knew, but had been pushed aside by my enthusiasm for getting the story written. “Plot and Structure” is much the same.
It begins with the basics (What is a plot, how stupid you are if you don’t have one etc.) but then continues on with some pretty sound advice on story structure. If you majored in literature or fiction writing there may not be many surprises here, but for someone like me who majored in a useless subject (marketing) there was a lot to offer. Even experienced writers will be able to take a few poignant reminders from the book.
The book also contains exercises that can help you improve or work through a particularly elaborate plot line.
Overall I highly recommend this book, especially if you stumble upon it on Amazon for a few dollars like I did.

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