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Books About Writing Fiction: Review of The Write Structure

Bijgewerkt op: 4 sep. 2023

To enhance your writing, reading books about writing fiction is essential. Especially story structure is something that requires some time to study and practice to grasp it. And once you do, it’ll greatly help you with writing your books.

One book on story structure is The Write Structure by Joe Bunting. Below, I’ll share some of the things you can find within the book, so you can decide whether it’s helpful to you.

review of the write structure books about writing fiction

Why story structure matters

First, Joe dives into why structure matters. When you pick up a copy of the book, you likely already know why structure is important. However, you may have mixed feelings about learning structure and using it to write your book.

Joe acknowledges those feelings and offers an alternative. Don’t write with your head (something plotters tend to do). Don’t write with your gut (something pantsers tend to do). Write with your heart.

That way, you have an aim and direction when writing, while still following your creative process, putting all of yourself into your story.

He also quickly dives into one of the most important things in stories: the dilemma. It happens at multiple parts in your story, but there’s one Major Dilemma; the moment at the end of the story, right before the final climax. It’s the moment when your protagonist has to make their final Big Choice.

Overall, Joe gives some great examples of dilemmas and how you can formulate one for your own story. So, you can use this as a starting point for plotting your story, or you can use it to check your first draft after you’ve written it. For instance, you can see whether your story has a dilemma and whether it’s strong enough.

There’s also some history on story structure, but it’s very brief and easy to understand. It just helps you move into the next part of the book, the foundations of plot.


Plot foundations

In this part, Joe discusses values, plot types, subplots, and story arcs. I found the part about values particularly helpful. Understanding the values that are at stake within your story is crucial to understanding the type of story you’re writing.

It’s very similar to the approach in The Story Grid, where you need to understand the genre you’re writing in to write or edit the story. However, the term “genre” can be confusing. Using values and plot types instead, makes it a bit easier to understand and grasp.

The part about subplots is especially helpful to anyone who struggles to tie in their subplots with their main plot. Or anyone who has the tendency to use too many subplots. He even gives an overview of where the subplot fits within the story when you deconstruct your story to check its structure.

The story arcs are laid out very clearly, with diagrams to understand how they look. Joe also gives many examples for each type of story arc. These arcs can help you figure out the type of story you want to write and look at the examples more closely to see how it was done there.


Plot elements

While I usually talk about 5 elements of plot, Joe uses 6. This is because he adds exposition as the first element. In this part of the book, he explains the elements: exposition, inciting incident, rising action (progressive complications/turning point), dilemma (crisis), climax, and denouement (resolution).

He gives some examples of these elements within other stories and helps you determine how you decide on each of these elements. This makes each of the elements really clear and instantly usable. I especially appreciate how he emphasizes how these elements tie to the core value of your story.


Plotting your story

The final part consists of tips and tricks you can use to plot your story, now that you have the knowledge of structure. Joe talks a bit about the importance of creating deadlines and consequences for you to follow through with writing your story. However, if you have developed your own process, and it works, you can skip that.

The part within this book I especially like talks about the premise. This is your entire book idea, distilled into a single sentence. Make no mistake: this is hard to do. But thinking about your premise is a great idea both before you start plotting and after you’ve written your first draft as a check.

Then, Joe gives some help with how you can find your plot type. It’s possible, after all, this isn’t quite apparent to you yet. After that, he walks you through plotting your story in 18 sentences (using the plot elements divided over 3 acts). After this, you can add subplot points to your story, also using the 6 elements. After that, you have your 18 sentences.

Joe also gives some tips on how he structures each scene, and how to write a good first chapter.

The final verdict

In my opinion, The Write Structure is a very complete book about story structure. It’s clear, concise, and actionable. After reading this, every writer will be able to plot their story or even use this knowledge to determine the structure of their first draft as a check.

As such, I would highly recommend this book to any writer.


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