A Book Review on Writing Great Fiction – Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

Here we are, several months after NaNo and my book sits in a large manila folder by my computer. Mocking me.

I found myself struggling to get my NaNoWriMo book edited. I would take it out of its neat folder. Sit down somewhere cozy and prepare to read the silly thing. I made it about 20 pages in.

Not that I was not excited about the plot! There is great potential in those pages. The characters (after a bit of serious rewrite) are fun, sexy and smart-ass, but for some reason I just could not bring myself to sit there and read something I knew everything about.

It was starting to feel impossible! This book will never get edited. Rewrite is going to be a chore if I can not even read through it once!

I decided to look through my kindle for anything on the subject I could find. I was not really sure where to look so I started with the author who had recently given a webinar on the very subject I was having a hard time with.

James Scott Bell is an author who followed me on Twitter so I decided to return the favor by following him. Am I glad that I did!

I found his book Writing Great Fiction – Plot & Structure. I grabbed the sample and read through it. Absorbing every bit of info available in the brief snippet of text they allowed in the sample. I had to buy it.


I am only about half way through the book. I have started to take my time reading it. Wishing now I had purchased a hard copy to highlight the crap out of. (I think he even mentions doing that to his own books on writing.) It is one of those books that you just need to dunk in a bucket of highlighter ink.

JSB goes through the basics of plot creation and idea generation step by step with great examples from many of the top names in Fiction, both past and present. The exercises he gives started my mind whirling about ways to improve my book right away. I had to grab a notebook and pen to keep with me as I read.

He explains each stage of a book and the reasons why they work the way thay do in such a way that you never get bored.

I don’t have a very extensive library of ‘How to write…” books yet. I honestly don’t think there is a successful author out there who could put out such a book and not have it be good. I am really glad this book happens to be one of the first I have purchased.

Writing, due to the creative nature of it, is something that you can never learn too much about. Yes, I agree with JSB that it can be taught. Point proved by the things I have learned from his book so far. However, there is still the element of creativity, of spontaneous art that comes from the flow of the words onto the screen (or page if you longhand at all).

That part, I don’t feel, can be taught. It is the artistic passion of the writer that keeps them writing regardless of the number of rejection letters they have received. That starts them on the path to becoming a writer in the first place.