I have been reading, and recently finished reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. If you haven’t read it, It comes highly recommended. Anyway, after going through and highlighting the things I wanted to remember, I also took note of a writing exercise that I’m going to give a shot.
In his book Mr. Bell explains in detail a multitude of ways and ideas to improve our writing, and as he says in the first chapter. Writing can be taught!
So, knowing that I am not born with some particularly stellar set of writing skills, I am setting out on my first 8-12 week self motivated writing challenge. In this challenge, using a lot of…ok pretty much all of.. what the book talks about, I am going to:
1. Collect 6 or more books in my chosen Genre. (These are books that will help me get a better grasp on the writing styles of my peers, give me fresh ideas and an outlook on how the Pros do it.)
2. Read through all of these books for pleasure.( This is my favorite part. I love reading!)
3. After reading through the entire collection go back to the first one with a set of index cards. On the first index card write number 1 and so on and so forth, so If the cards are ever dropped they can be put back into order. For each scene, I am going to write down:
- The setting
- Point-Of-View character
- A two-line summary
- and scene type ( reaction, deepening, setup, action…)
Then I’m going to write if the scene makes me want to read on, why and why not?
4. Repeat this for all of the books, after which I will have 6 or so neatly piled stacks of index cards. I will save them
5. Pick any of the stacks and quickly read through the novel summary by summary and scene by scene. Try to remember the scenes and continue on, almost as if I’m watching a movie in my head.
6. Wash, Rinse and Repeat…well, just repeat. So after going through these 6 + stacks of plot I will have a much better grasp on plot and how to better articulate it as I write.
So, that’s the gist. There are other parts to this exercise which I will be attempting, but I’ll leave that until you read the book yourself! It’s an incredibly valuable tool, and any one who has ever had difficulties with plot, or thinks that structure is a thing of the past, needs to get this book!
Good luck on your Writing!