Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Elements of Fiction Writing: Scene and Structure" (Chapters 1-6) by Jack M. Bickham

I didn't start to get into this book until Chapter 3. Chapters 1 & 2 were more introductory, covering topics such as, "The Structure of Modern Fiction" and "Strategy: How to Start Your Story and End It." Chapters 3 and 4 really gets into the produce of what a mid-level writer needs to know. "Structure in Microcosm: Cause and Effect," really helped me think about cause and effect in my novel, and Chapter 4 ( Structure in Larger Elements: The Scene) helped me to analyze each scene in my story.

Chapter 5 (Structure in Macrocosm: Scenes with Results) resonated with me, as I have done what this author warns against which is to write a grand scene and end up in a blind alley of manuscript with no where to go. This action reminds me of that science cartoon where the guy is writing an equation on the board and in the middle of it he writes *then a miracle happens* and the rest of the equation follows. I'm actually in a tough spot with my novel right now because some of the choices my characters have made put them all in a particular place with the need to get a specific thing done and I can't quite figure out how to do it without the *miracle* in the middle. Either I'll have to scrap some chapters or be clever and figure out something that's plausible.

Through Chapters 5 and 6, Bickham's techniques suit those who plan and who outline ahead of time but is not exactly for the 'pantsers' in the crowd. Chapter 6 deals with "Planning and Revising Scenes for Maximum Effect," and so as a part time pantser I could see where his technique wouldn't necessarily work for certain writers. However, if one were to go back later and apply some of what Bickham suggests it may be helpful. As of now, I"m on to Chapter 7 and will give more reviews later. So far there isn't much in this that I haven't been told already. It's a good review for general creative fiction novel writing but there's nothing that has completely rocked my world as a writer. More soon!

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