Plot & Structure Exercise 15: Tighten the Rope

Isolate a tense scene in your novel, where the conflict is at its highest. Then stretch the tension even more. Use the techniques from the chapter. Then return to it in a few days. Does it need to be cut, or have you added to the reading experience?   This […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 13: Till Death do us Plot

Today’s exercise is a matter of life or death. For the characters. That’s because Mr Bell recommends that the stakes be so high, so grand and important, that they will make or break a character to his fundamental being.   I remember last night’s episode of Sex and the City, […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 12: Workshop Thyself

The next exercises in the chapter all revolve around the first. You essentially pick it apart. Kind of odd, if you ask me. Like scratching something off your back, and inspecting it. Well, here is it.   First, a look at story world. How well do you do it? Are […]

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Plot & Structure 10: The Bell Pyramid

Who doesn’t like pyramids? Mr Bell always wanted one named after him, so in his plot book he did just that.   He asks writers to put their unsunken lines and hooks through another test: PPP.   Does the story inspire passion? Does the story have potential? Will the writing […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 9: Scrap the Crap

In chapter three we find a quote from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. These Hollywood producers are shooting the breeze, coming up with movie pitches, when one of them say, “That isn’t an idea, it’s an notion. If we put some money into it, then maybe we can turn it into a […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 8.1: the What-If game

In chapter three of his plot book, Mr Bell suggests ways for coming up with hundreds of ideas. Ok, we wonder, why? Remember how one tip to writing subsequent scenes was to imagine multiple scenarios? We tend to write A, B, C, D . . . but Mr Bell suggested, […]

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Who Are You? [Birthday Post]

This exercise comes from the James Scott Bell’s plot book, but it hit me so hard I decided to treat it as something separate. Basically, Mr Bell takes the old adage, “Write what you know,” and makes it, “Write who you are.” It sounds almost Julia Camerom-esque. When you invest […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 6: an Honest Look

How could I not? I read chapter 2 of Mr Bell’s Plot book through the lens of my last novel. Why? Because I wrote They Lived They Were with plot squarely in mind. At first I wrote freely, as I tend to do. But later, every editing decision, every scene […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 3: Quick and Dirty

Today’s exercise calls for four lines, one for each of the LOCK element, on your next novel. Well, well! I do have a next novel idea, which I really (really) want to be plotty. Like I might as well get the thing down pat. Butterflies, remember? Gossamer wings. Plot of […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 2: Lock and Load

This exercise builds off another idea from chapter one of Mr Bell’s simple and clean book on training your plot muscles. Essentially, the structure of our favorite books boils down to this acronym:   L.O.C.K.   In pieces, Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout. Acronyms are sexy, we must admit, and choice […]

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Plot & Structure Exercise 1: Get Motivated

The first book in the semester of Plot will be James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure. With a name like that, how could you go wrong? Not his, although it does reminds me of one of my favorite professors in college, Susan Bell . . . nevertheless, just for bibliography’s […]

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A Semester of Plot: a preamble

Has it ever happened to you where you get the same message three different times, in three different ways? Your stomach growls, you’re hungry. But it’s better to save money, hold off until dinner. And then you see an ad on your computer for ice cream. No, you say. Then […]

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