Plot by Ansen Dibell ( Elements Of Fiction Writing) PDF book

Plot by Ansen Dibell ( Elements Of Fiction Writing) PDF book

Plot by Ansen Dibell

Ansen Dibell is the pen name of a teacher/writer/editor whose five-novel science fiction series, The Rule of One, has been inter¬ nationally published. After earning MA, MFA, and Ph. D. degrees from the Writers' Workshop of the University of Iowa, Dibell went on to a diversity of jobs including delivering phone books door to door and serving as a college president. Active with community writers' groups and college level writing programs, Dibell calls herself a writing coach: "Many people contend that creativity can't be taught. Maybe not. But, like any other sophisticated performance skill—from playing the violin to Bowling for Dollars—it certainly can be coached."

Excerpt from the author's introduction

If you're like me and most of the writers I've known over the years in writers' groups, at conferences and in classes, you're coming to plot the hard way. A scene, a bit of dialogue, a character sets you happily scribbling or keyboarding away. And then, too often, something happens. The story starts to slow and go sour, dead ending in frustrated scraps of revision. It's eventually tossed with the rest of the might-have-beens—in the bottom of your sock drawer or even in the wastebasket. Or maybe you want to write a story based on real life and real incidents. That should be a cinch, right? All the events really happened; the characters are people you know. Nothing easier than writing it all down, you think confidently. Just change the names and locale, and you're set.

But then the events, so compelling when they happened and when you thought about them, bog down in detail and explanations. The familiar people you felt certain would be en¬ thralling characters turn into jabbering trolls. You feel the silent inner thud that tells you that truth—or, more accurately, fact-based fiction—is no more a guarantee against writing dull, unconvincing tales than is inventing the whole thing from the start. Begin to sound familiar yet? Have you ever had what seemed like a vivid story idea that fizzled out as soon as you got your first words on paper? Or have you written a story you thought was great and had it come back with a rejection slip commenting that it "seemed distant ? What's distant, for heaven's sake? What do you do now? Or you're starting your second novel while the first one is in the mail, and somewhere about page 90 you find one of your subplots is becoming a lot more interesting than your main plot. It seems to want to take over the whole book. You get bored whenever you have to return to the main character's problems, which now seem to you about as dramatic as watching ice cream melt. Or you've written and sold some fiction by good gut instinct.

And now the problem arises: how did you do it before? And how can you do it again? You want to bring your unconscious craft under greater conscious control, so that you can make choices, not just blunder through until something goes wrong, or right. Are you one of the writers whose instincts are better than their knowledge, who write merrily along when inspiration strikes and bog down in despair when inspiration inevitably fails? If this list of woes sounds at all familiar, you're in good company.

Melville wrote a large chunk of Moby Dick thinking that the pivotal figure was going to be a man named (I'm not kidding) Bulkington. Read the first couple of chapters and notice all the build-up about Bulkington, who's then abruptly washed over¬ board the first day the Pequod leaves harbor and is never heard of again. What happened? Melville had discovered a character named Ahab. Melville wasn't a tidy writer: the original beginning is still there. Alas, poor Bulkington. Similarly,!. R. R.Tolkien has confessed that about a third of the way through The Fellowship of the Ring, some ruffian named Strider confronted the hobbits in an inn, and Tolkien was in despair. He didn't know who Strider was, where the book was go¬ ing, or what to write next. Strider turns out to be no lesser person than Aragorn, the unrecognized and uncrowned king of all the forces of good, whose restoration to rule is, along with the destruction of the evil ring, the engine that moves the plot of the whole massive trilogy. The Lord of the Rings.


1 chapter 1 what is plot? 5 chapter 2 grand openings 19 chapter 3 would you trust a viewpoint with shifty eyes? 30 chapter 4 "Shut up!” he explained—handling exposition 43 chapter 5 early middles: new directions and subplots 58 chapter 6 building the big scenes: set-pieces 69 chapter 7 harnessing melodrama 81 chapter 8 patterns, mirrors, and echoes 94 chapter 9 pacing, transitions, flashes, and frames 111 chapter 10 when you come to the end, stop 120 chapter 11 beyond plot 144 index 164

Author: Ansen Dibell
 Publication Date:1988

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