20 Master Plots

I have a deep and abiding love for my chosen profession. Whether or not the feeling’s mutual is still to be seen. This love has made me addicted to technical manuals. I have a shelf full of books about plotting, character sketching, and writing process (do it faster! better!) not to mention my many grammar books. (There’s a difference between “eat, shit, and die” (pessimistic) and “eat shit, and die” (a warning).) What I love about technical manuals is the promise that I’ll learn something new and be a better writer. Ronald B. Tobias’ 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them isn’t the first book about plotting I’ve bought, and it won’t be the last, but it’s a good one.

Tobias first explains that there are really only two kinds of plots, plots of the mind (character-driven) and plots of the body (action-driven), and that there are any number of ways they can be broken down. His chosen 20 is a little arbitrary. Given that, he goes into each one with examples from popular literature and movies that make his descriptions easy to follow. You can read the entire book through as I did, or simply go to the chapter that deals with the type of plot you’re working on. There’s even a handy checklist at the end of each chapter, and a downloadable pdf available from Writer’s Digest.

If you’re serious about writing, this is a good resource.


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