Saturday, September 18, 2010

Plot by Ansen Dibell (4 stars of 5)

I just finished Plot by Ansen Dibell.

Plot is a non-fiction book for aspiring writers who want to learn the basics of the mechanics of plot.  The book was good; I learned a lot.  It didn't have any secrets about writing that I couldn't figure out myself by reading a lot of books.  But what the book did do was help me put a name and organize the concepts that I subconsciously recognized in reading other people's book.  There were a lot of A-HA or YES I RECOGNIZE THAT IN BOOKS THAT I'VE READ moments as I read.

I was a little confused about some of her choices for examples of good plot but then I realized that she wasn't picking the choices for creative genius but rather for accessibility to the reader.  She talked about EMPIRE STRIKES BACK a lot and I mean a lot.  I thought initially that she did this because she thought it was a work of profound PLOT genius but then, after further thought, she probably picked this story because most people are familiar with the story.  Another story she mentions a lot was LORD OF THE FLIES and REBECCA.

As I'm reading about learning how to be a better writer, I'm actually becoming a better reader.  As I read through short stories, novels and even movies and tv shows, I'm realizing all the mirror and patterns and juxtapositions that are commonly used that I never noticed before.

Overall, this book was good.  It definitely delivered on what it promised.  I learned about plot, the beginning, the middle and the end.  There was less HOW TO and more DESCRIPTION of ELEMENTS OF PLOT but I appreciated the writing and the few tips that she gave.  She also describes common pitfalls which was helpful.  I liked how she gave a lot of examples from books/stories/movies that I was familiar with.  I rate this a 4 out of 5, minus one star because I was hoping for some secrets or things that I would not have noticed on my own but didn't get.

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