I’ve just started reading a great book in the Write Great Fiction series on Plot & Structure. It’s written by James Scott Bell who is not an author I had read prior to this book but I’m certainly going to check out some of his fiction to see whether he follows his own (excellent) advice!
Interestingly, I only bought this book because the book I was intending to buy didn’t get very good reviews on Amazon. Now of course I can’t tell you what that book is called because that wouldn’t be fair given that I haven’t actually even seen it myself. It did get me thinking about the power of reviews and how influenced we can be by the opinion of other people, even if we don’t know those people.
The reviews for James’ book were consistently good and the deciding factor for me was that the book contains practical exercises as well as tips and techniques. When learning any craft I think it’s vital to be given the chance to put the theory into practise.
As I didn’t have a specific plot in mind I rather ad libbed the first exercise that called for us to think about a current idea for a novel. And then a rather interesting thing happened. I have found myself quite drawn to the idea and, rather than dismissing it as too problematic, I have started to consider the possibility that it might work.
I will continue to use this basic sketch throughout the rest of this book and see whether I have indeed got the makings of a solid novel. Rather than being put off by all the bits I don’t know – for example about the reality of day to day life in the lead character’s profession and several of the characters hobbies – I will ‘write as if I know’ and can always then go back and get a reality check and edit once I’ve got the basic story put together.
And, if I get that far, I can always buy another book in the series (also written by James) called Revision and Self Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Finished Novel.