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Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham
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Scene and Structure (1993)

by Jack M. Bickham

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Definitely one of the best writing books I've read. At first I was thinking it was going to be a knock-off of Dwight Swain's, and it was a lot like his, but this one actually helped me understand so much more than Dwight's. Though I believe Dwight did communicate these same things, it was just that presented this way--a slightly different way--it all became so much more clear. I especially loved the end, when it gives an example plot outline. LOVED that! I've always wanted someone to do that. That alone made the book 5 stars for me. Most of all, it made me realize I need to quit fighting the system and just go with it. It's only when you know the rules, and know them well, that you should ever veer off the path. ( )
  KR_Patterson | Apr 28, 2015 |
This book is twenty years old and it's showing its age. Bickham spends a large portion of the message dedicated to slowing a story down. I've never heard of doing that. That's not a problem these days.

This is a good book for those people who have read other books on writing, and are looking for more advanced techniques or more specific approaches. More than the simple "show, don't tell" and "don't use adverbs". This books takes more detail into the "kill your darlings" message and how to structure a novel piece-by-piece, scene by scene. This book breaks it down to its molecules and restructures it back up.

The problem was I kept drifting off in the middle. Maybe the book was too detailed? Maybe it was trying to give too much information, too specific. The entire last chapter is a formula/outline for a novel, with things like "the main character attempts to solve his problem here but ends in disaster" or "POV of the romantic interest, the thing stopping her gets bigger" and "this chapter is where the good guy lays it all on the line". At that point, if you write every novel this way, don't you lose the spontaneity of the story? Doesn't it restrict the craft? ( )
  theWallflower | Apr 22, 2014 |
An editor once told me that if you're going to take advice on writing, take it either from name-bestselling writers or gatekeepers such as acquiring editors or agents--not necessarily anyone who writes for Writer's Digest or has taught a writing class. By those terms Jack Bickham doesn't qualify, and I do agree with the LibraryThing reviewer that called this something of a slog to read. At the same time, Bickham wrote the first book on writing I ever purchased, Writing the Short Story, and I did find his whole concept of scene and sequel when groping my way to what a story was very useful. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Sep 8, 2013 |
Scene & Structure, by Jack M. Bickham is part of the Writer’s Digest Elements of Fiction Writing series. I’ve read nine of the books from the series, and this is my least favorite. The information provided is very detailed, but the writing style is a chore to read. Still, I do recommend this book. There is a wealth of detail relating to the structure of stories, scenes, and sequels. But, the treasure of information is buried. I had to slog through much of the book to find the gems. But, the gems were worth the effort. ( )
1 vote Sundry | May 30, 2010 |
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this book is dedicated to the memory of Dwight V. Swain; writer, teacher and friend. Without him, I would have had no career as a novelist.
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Mention words such as structure, form, or plot to some fiction writers, and they blanch.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Offers advice to writers on constructing fiction that flows from one scene to the next with logic, discussing how to revise scenes for maximum effect and how to fix common errors

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