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Ansen Dibell
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Plot (Elements of Fiction Writing)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  504 ratings  ·  38 reviews
This book is about identifying the choices available when creating, fixing, steering, and discovering plots and then learning what narrative problems they are apt to create and how to choose an effective strategy for solving them. The result? Strong, solid stories and novels that move.
Published (first published 1988)
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The chapters on beginnings and endings were superb and very helpful. So many writers guides are catered to genre fiction and churning out the next bestseller - I appreciated Dibell's treatment of short story collections and literary works. She used extensive examples from books and movies that I have seen and liked (Lord of the Flies, Jane Eyre, and Star Wars), so that probably helped too - many of the other guides I have read cite examples of plotlines and character arcs that I am just not fami ...more
John Patterson
When I was a freshman in high school my English teacher went over a rather dull lecture of the technical aspects of a plot. Exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution.
Thankfully, the author does not once go over this structure. Instead she recognizes that a plot can take several forms and goes over the disparate elements. Some elements that must be used and understood, like exposition and viewpoint. Others that are optional, like subplots and flashbacks. Each concept is exemp
Matt Evans
The author, for some unknown reason, uses a pseudonym. She claims to have written the “internationally published” five-book science fiction series The Rule of One. But that fiction series doesn’t exist, at least not on a public or international scale, so kudos to Dibell for thus keeping the forensic loop closed on her pseudonym. But wait -- let’s check the internet. Turns out Dibell is in fact Nancy Ann Dibble, American Sci-fi-wri-(ter). She’s dead now, but must have been something of a Star War ...more
Misha Crews
Jul 02, 2009 Misha Crews rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fiction writers
I was given this book as a graduation present when I finished high school, and it was one of the best gifts I've ever received. Dibell's points are all concise, intelligently written, and most of all, true! I've referred back to this book countless times and I doubt I'll ever get tired of it.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
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. Dibell doesn't quality as a "name" writer, but I do like the Elements of Fiction Writing series Writer's Digest puts out--and plotting is one of my weaknesses. This is more about fixing plots then generating them. Dibell obviously agrees with Step ...more
Eric Shaffer
I love books on writing. Each one is like going to school with a new instructor, and no matter what they know or don't know, it's always fun to review basics and see them from another point of view. One thing I particularly liked about this book is that Dibell was at least aware--even in a book focused primarily on plot--that plot is not only an artificially and chronologically arranged series of staged events, as, we all must admit, most plots are, but that plots can also dispense with one or m ...more
Very concise and easy-to-read, with practical examples from well-known stories (including The Empire Strikes Back!) discussing the mechanics of structuring plot. The list of techniques is extensive, and along with the means for using them, are plenty of warnings of how they can go very wrong. The techniques she lists are useful in any kind of fiction writing, from genre fiction, to literary novels, to short stories (and given the Star Wars examples, I suppose even screenwriting).

However, the aut
I give this one 3.25 stars. A good overall examination of plotting your novel. A decent resource for a beginning/intermediate writer, but I found it too vague in places, and with not enough specific text/passage examples, other than the handful of books (and one movie) mentioned over and over.

Some good ideas on things to avoid as well. Also suggestions on beginnings, endings, and middles.

I did agree with author on most points. They seem to know their stuff. But I learned almost nothing that I di
Filip Camerman
The first half contains usefull insights and recommendations on story openings, changing viewpoints, weaving plot threads and building up to set-pieces, but the second half was mostly generic advice without applicable recommendations. Still worthwhile.
Elizabeth Hein
Chock full of great advice. I return to the chapters about circular story construction again and again. This is a craft book that is worth reading more than once.
I have read better books on how to create good fiction, but none were as exacting about plot maintenance, and of course, this is a good thing for a book on plots. That being said, I think I should have been writing, rather than reading a book on plots. Sure, I felt the conflict and the build-up while reading it, but the lack of my action, or no-action, was a glaring defect that I desperately wanted to rectify. So, as a book on plots, I desperately wanted to make one by putting the book down.

Aditi Chopra
This book was a good refreshing take on fiction writing. I finished it in one go and got some relevant material.
Another great book on technique, especially helpful if you have a ghost of a plot. As you plow through this writiers' suggestions, you'll start snagging your plot idea on all sorts of new ideas and twists.

I don't think this book is intended to actually help you develop a plot, only structure one, but even so, it helps jog lots of ideas. And strucutre deserves a lot of thought, if your a planning sort of writer.

Also, Orson Scott Card's books in this same series, "Character and Viewpoint" and "H
Feb 17, 2008 Jorge rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jorge by: Joe Paddock
"Plot" offers fiction writers advice on how to structure their stories, whether they're short pieces or novels.

Ansen Dibell (a pen name for the late Nancy Ann Dibble) approaches the subject with a conversational tone. Not once does it feel like you're reading a textbook.

"Plot" doesn't present you with a ton of rigid rules to churn out identically structured cookie-cutter works. Rather, it presents a slew of choices and possibilities, all meant to lend form and unity to all those great ideas yo
Tammie Painter
One word to describe this book: Boring.

I typically read books on writing and feel inspired to incorporate the advice into my own work (this is a driving force in when I feel stuck). This book was one of the least inspiring books I've read. The information isn't bad, per se, but is very rote and nothing you haven't heard before (unless this is your first book on writing you've read).

I Wouldn't say to not read it, but grab a copy from your library rather than shelling out your money for it.
I love this book. I bought it in junior high or high school, back when I was being serious about my writing. I just picked it up again, and it's as excellent as I remember. It really makes you think through what you're trying to accomplish with every facet of your writing--why each scene is there, what it accomplishes, what it tells about your character, why it's from the point of view you chose, etc. An excellent resource.
Serge Pierro
Ansen Dibell's contribution to the "Elements of Fiction Writing" series is on Plots. She gives numerous examples of the subject at hand. As with the other books in the series, this is a welcome addition to a writer's collection.
..about identifying the choices available when creating, fixing, steering, and discovering plots and then learning what narrative problems they are apt to create and how to choose an effective strategy for solving them.
John Woodington
This is a great learning tool for any writer, and not only shows the basics of plotting, but also gives great examples of some of the finer points and tactics of plotting, such as mirroring and echoes.
Dibell offers advice to hopeful writers on ways to avoid obvious and not so obvious mistakes in writing fiction and ways to use scenes that build one upon another into a strong and satisfying story.
I'm with Megan. There are better books on craft out there. I need a little more to keep me interested. It's just really dry.

Check out James Scott Bell or Donald Maass for more peppy picks.
I can see this as being useful to me. I liked how there were a lot of examples from Lord of the Flies, a book I have read. Hm. Not much else to say about this one. Clear, concise, coherent.
Fascinating! To me at least. Insightful ideas on how to construct and flush out a story. If you are interested in how to write fiction better 15 stars, if not it may bore you to tears.
David Fortier
This book teaches many things, perhaps most important are handling exposition and melodrama. Of course, each writer is going to get something different from each book.
One of the better books I've read on plot and structure. I'll be refering to this in the future, and will be looking for the other books in this series.
Joel Gomes
Even if you don't follow every rule in this book, if you're a writer you have to read it.
This was an extremely helpful book and very practical for plot development. One of my favorites.
Were it not for the grammatical errors I would have given this book four stars...
If you enjoy writing, I think this is one of the best books you could lay your handson.
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  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Dialogue (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description & Setting
  • Dialogue: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialogue
  • The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life
  • Revision & Self-Editing: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft Into a Finished Novel
  • 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them
  • Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing
  • The Writer's Guide to Character Traits: Includes Profiles of Human Behaviors and Personality Types
  • Writing Dialogue
  • Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript
  • World-Building
  • Aliens and Alien Societies
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ansen Dibell was the penname used by Nancy Ann Dibble (September 8, 1942 – March 7, 2006), an American science fiction author, who also published books about fiction writing. Born in Staten Island, New York, she received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers Workshop and earned a doctorate in 19th C. English literature. She taught literature and
More about Ansen Dibell...

Other Books in the Series

Elements of Fiction Writing (10 books)
  • Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Characters and Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Conflict, Action and Suspense (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Description
  • Dialogue (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Manuscript Submission
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Setting: How to Create and Sustain a Sharp Sense of Time and Place in Your Fiction
  • Voice and Style
Pursuit of the Screamer (Kantmorie Saga, #1) Circle, Crescent, Star ( Kantmorie Saga, #2) Summerfair (Kantmorie Saga #3) Gift van de Shai (Het Bewind van Een #5) Stormvloedgrens (Het Bewind van Een #4)

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“J.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 going, 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.” 16 likes
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