Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Pros: Filled with suggestive ideas for creating a strong plot.

Cons: As the title implies, this book is limited to plotting only. If you’re interested in a broader perspective, or other writing topics you should read other books on writing.

Thoughts: This book has an expansive, straightforward list of suggestions for tackling plot in a way that is easy to understand. I especially liked the Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knock-out (L.O.C.K.) system and the idea of transitions between acts of a story being ‘doorways’ as a simplified guideline for dramatic structure. This book simplifies and demystifies what is in some of the more elaborate books on the topic, such as Writer’s Journey by Chris Vogler or STORY by Robert McKee.

Summary: If you’re trying to keep it simple, this book might be better than some of the others.


Table of Contents:

INTRODUCTION: Putting the Big Lie to Sleep 1

CHAPTER ONE: What’s a Plot, Anyway? 6

CHAPTER TWO: Structure: What Holds Your Plot Together 22

CHAPTER THREE: How to Explode With Plot Ideas 35

CHAPTER FOUR: Beginning Strong 56

CHAPTER FIVE: Middles 79

CHAPTER SIX: Endings 99


CHAPTER EIGHT: Complex Plots 130

CHAPTER NINE: The Character Arc in Plot 141

CHAPTER TEN: Plotting Systems 152

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Revising Your Plot 172

CHAPTER TWELVE: Plot Patterns 180

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Common Plot Problems and Cures 194

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Tips and Tools for Plot and Structure 206

APPENDIX A: Checklist: Critical Points 223

APPENDIX B: Creating Your Own Back Cover Copy 229



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