Sunday, August 25, 2013

Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Today I finished reading Plot & Structure: Techniques and exercises for crafting a plot that grips readers from start to finish by James Scott Bell.

I've resisted reading this how-to book for a long time.  That was a mistake.  I thought that I really understood 3 Act Structure so there was nothing I could gain from this book.

While I probably didn't learn anything new about 3 Act Structure, I didn't waste my time.  I learned many new things.

Back in February I sent my outline for my WIP to two editors for their review of my story.  I was after a development edit.  What I got back from both editors was that my story wasn't ready for prime time.  Editor number one was positive and encouraging while pointing out my weaknesses.  Editor number two was brutally frank.  She commented on only the first act. She said, after you've changed the outline to introduce the protagonist in scene 1 and changed this, and this, and this. (You get the idea.) Then send me your revised outline before we go any further.

I got hung up on her point that my protagonist must appear in the first scene.  I frankly didn't get it.  My big opening scene had my antagonist up to his dirty work.  I had only already revised the opening scene a bajillion times and I liked what I had.   I didn't revise the opening scene or make the other changes.  I was stuck.  I couldn't imagine how to do what she wanted.  The story just had to begin with the antagonist's dirty work.

Then I discovered Bridging Conflict in Plot & Structure.  The answer to my problem.

This book is so much more than just another book on structure.  It has some of the best how-to advice I've read.  Don't miss it.

I give the book 4 stars.

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