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Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story
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Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  450 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Story loves structure...and so do readers!

Super Structure represents over two decades of research on what makes a novel or screenplay entertaining, commercial, original, and irresistible. Contrary to what some may think, structure is not a nasty inhibitor of creativity. Quite the opposite. Properly understood and utilized, structure is what translates story into a form re
Kindle Edition, 120 pages
Published January 28th 2015 by Compendium Press
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Geovanie Ruiz
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
For the Anxious Writer

I've toyed with many writing paradigms (Architect, Snowflake, Gardening, etc.) in an attempt to figure out my first novel. This book didn't give me the answers I wanted, but it gave me the answers I needed. The entire book is like a guided metamorphosis. Before reading, I was anxious, confused, and paralyzed. After having completed the book and applied Bell's methodology, I'm anxious to start writing, the process is no longer a mystical endeavor, and I feel like I can final
Christine Zolendz
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books you wished you read WAAAAYYY before you started a writing career and published some boringly embarrassing books. I've written about James Scott Bell and wishing I could clone a mini-him and keep him in my pocket when I write. I'll settle for renting him out for a few hours so he could spoon feed me all his story-structure goodness until I choke on it. I use his books as bibles now.
Lake Lopez
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is:

An immense gift for any writer new to structure
Perfect for those digging deeper into the three acts
A book I wish I'd read before writing the first seven or so novels

Grab your copy, young writer, because, "The power of your story is directly proportional to the readers' experience of it, and the readers' experience is directly proportional to the soundness of the structure."

Enough said.

Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
3.5 stars

This is the second book I read by this author. I love his simplistic style in mapping out the plot points. He has dedicated a lot of his time in studying the craft of writing. And he practices what he preaches. Another thing I like is that he doesn't sit there and used these non-fiction books to peddle his fiction novels. That is kind of refreshing. He also comes across as eager to teach and humble. That is always a plus
Roni Loren
I'll pretty much read anything James Scott Bell has to say about writing. HIs way of teaching and explaining things resonates with me. This was a helpful short read that gives a different take on structure and beats. Not a lot of pages but chock full of good stuff.
Larry Dunlap
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
I used the ideas about these milestones with some personal alterations to check the story arc of ENCHANTED, Book 2 of THINGS WE LOST IN THE NIGHT, A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves. It was useful taken into context with other writing concepts I use.
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a fast, easy read, particularly helpful for folks who haven't read other books like Save the Cat or Take Off Your Pants. I learned a new term --- signposting, which is apparently what I do when I write not from an outline but from the knowledge of a few key scenes scattered throughout the book.

I liked his take on stakes: "Unless it's life and death, the stakes aren't high enough.... There are three kinds of death: physical, professional, psychological."

When it came to the actual beats, t
Toni Rodriguez
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
MI LIBRO #300!

Bueno, después de pensar unos días, elegí está pequeño manual sobre estructura en una historia.
Es como un pequeño resumen de los puntos que se establecen en "Anatomy of Story", solo los principales. Pero incluye ejemplos más recientes a los que John Trubi o Syd Field utilizan, pero de igual forma retoma los ya clásicos( CasaBlanca, El Fugitivo, Gone With The Wind).

Escrito de forma sencilla de comprender y de manera corta. Buenísimo para repasar, si has leído manuales más completo
Terri Jones
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
A useful writing toolbox in book form.

It delivers what it says on the cover. There is enough detail, addressing both planners and 'seat of the pants' writers. Each element makes sense to me, and his illustrations from popular books and movies are very helpful.

It's sexist. (Action movies are men's movies - oh, really? I don't think so. That's just the most glaring example.) I'd like any revision to correct that. I've deducted an entire star for that failure alone.

But the formula is flexible and
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book as a recommendation from another author and dived in! As a pantser, I've never plotted. Sure, I've jotted several notes while writing on where the story feels like it's going or where it may end up, but nothing more than that.

Last night, I finished reading this book, and got to work right away with outlining my next novel! I used James' Super Structure and now feel confident as I prepare to sit down and write.

This book may have been a story changer, literally!

5 Stars and re
Sabrina Haslimeier
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is everything I needed. The information is presented in an engaging way that's easy to understand and easy to apply to your own writing. There are plenty of examples and explanations without being overwhelming, with helpful hints for pantsers too. (Although after reading this book and trying to revise a story that was written without any structure knowledge, I don't think I ever want to pants again.) My copy is now full of highlights and sticky tabs, and I look forward to referencing it whe ...more
Jeffrey Cahhal
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone starting out or trying to structure their book!

I have read most of James's books on the craft, but this one is straight to the point on best approaches to structuring your stories. You will definitely keep this in your writer's toolkit for years to come.

As always--thank you James:)
Jasmine Flowerday
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was great! I suggest this to anyone who is writing a series or is looking for a little structure to make sure all of your holes are filled in! I have already started using the information I gained from reading Super Structure!
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like how things were explained in this book. It really doesn't say anything new but I found it entertaining enough to read it in just one day. It is not as thorough as KM Weiland's Structuring Your Novel, but the basic information is here.
Another great read for aspiring authors.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading numerous books on structure, I think this book is a breath of fresh air. It gets to the point rather quickly and gives clear examples, sparing my time so that I can put it into practice.
Cora Foerstner
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books on story structure. Bell lays out a clear and detailed descriptions of plot structure and how to use it. Excellent book for writers who like to outline and write as inspired.

A book that should be on every fiction writer's bookshelf.
Miriam Greystone
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that I now keep beside my laptop as I write! Highly recommended for all authors!
Carol Cram
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I like all of James Scott Bell's advice books on writing; this one is probably one of the most useful. The 14-point structure is easy to understand and apply during the novel writing process.
Amber Foxx
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Super Structure is a sequel, following up on the principles in James Scott Bell’s 2004 Plot and Structure. The new book quickly reviews the basic ideas of the earlier one but doesn’t replace it. I strongly recommend reading Plot and Structure first, to fully explore Bell’s LOCK system (Lead, Objective, Confrontation, and Knockout) and then build on it with Super Structure.
He has a chatty, casual style and gives his methods and signposts catchy names so a writer is likely to think of them easily
Teddi Deppner
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
James Scott Bell is one of the few authors that I collect. While I enjoy his fiction, I especially watch for his how-to books on the writing craft. He's done his homework, put in the years, tested the waters -- you name the metaphor, he's got it under his belt. (Ha!)

When I'm writing and get stuck somewhere, I need something to jog me out of the hole. And it varies: I may get stuck at the beginning, the middle or the end. Or even during the process of brainstorming an idea just to determine if it
Tara Jade Brown
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I can't praise Super Structure enough.
I’m a writer who doesn’t plot stories before I start writing them (so called “pantser”), so when I finish a draft, it’s a long way away from the proper structure that readers can (and want to) understand. And when I try to shape that draft into a proper structure, it takes lots and lots of time. This book gives signposts regarding the plot structure—seven of them—and I found it extremely useful to have them before beginning to write or even to shape up my ze
Jery Schober
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-advice
Apart from the long introduction (a quarter of the book) which contains nothing new for readers of Bell's other books (do yourself a favor and buy Plot & Structure to learn more about this topic), Super Structure is a very concise and useful book about the underlying structure of novels. Many examples from movies (my favorite ones being the examples from Lethal Weapon and Star Wars) make you understand the concepts quickly and painlessly.
You don't have to adhere to the structural points Bell
B. Andersen
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is another short (117 pages, approximately) book from James Scott Bell. I like his writing style, the way he explains his concepts, and especially all the examples from books and movies that make the general concrete. The book could have been 2/3 the length if he'd shortened the rather long sales pitch at the beginning, but I quibble. You can get through this easily in an evening (even if you spend some time thinking about all the things you should), and those few hours are worth understand ...more
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Super Structure is a useful book for prospective author's with little or no training in how to plan and execute a novel.

This book will save these new writers a lot of time an energy in getting started and what the next step will/should be.

Be clear, this is a book about outlining method as opposed to the organic method [start writing and hope for the best]. Some writers will believe this takes the mystery out of the craft...maybe even the magic. Mystery, magic, and inspiration are for amateurs.
Kari Trumbo
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You know you've found a good writing book when you have to put it down and think for a few minutes what each signpost is in your novels or how you could potentially add them in if lacking. This was that book for me. I don't know that following his formula will make you a success, but I think you could take a good story and make it great.

I loved his use of examples throughout the book, giving credence and evidence of each signpost. I also liked that he used the same few books/movies throughout an
Guy Riessen
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A short but concise and interesting look at outlining. It's of particular interest to those of us who write short stories without outlines because we often fear that an outline with hurt creativity. Embarking on a novel is a much different road to travel and the ideas James Bell puts forth here make a lot of sense. Why have your first draft be your outline, when you can do the same thing with a rough outline from the start, and free your creativity to 'tell' the tale, rather than to 'find' the t ...more
Loraine Nunley
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I found the information in this book very useful. This book gives a very clean way to structure the different points in your novel. Part One gives information on structure overall and how writers, no matter how they write, can benefit from using it. Part Two then takes you step by step through fourteen “signposts” that form to complete a good plot.

This book has become part of my permanent writing resource library. I highly recommend it to any writer.
Jeff Van Valer
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: craft-of-writing
I have never referred back to a book on the craft of writing more than this one. The fourteen signposts have forever changed the way I look at all fiction including movies. In fact, I cannot read a novel or watch a movie without thinking of this book’s lessons. In fiction, I love looking for the points of no return, Q Factors, and pet-the-dog moments in any story I read. It is a book about reader psychology more than story “formula.”

A must-read for a novelist.
Kay Hudson
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book expands upon some of the ideas Bell wrote about in Write Your Novel From the Middle and lays out an excellent list of useful "beats" for maintaining structure in fiction. Bell includes invaluable explanations of "why it works" for each beat, as well as advice for plotters and pantsers. Definitely worth reading and using, whether you're starting a new story or editing a completed manuscript.
Mark Smith
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Bell does a great job of teaching the craft in all of his technique writings. This might be the best I've read on structure. Excellent way to view the layout of creative fiction-- not too much structure, not too much freedom. The balance helped my finish putting together my first book and it is guiding the second. I'm very happy with the way my plot is turning out using this book's method.
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Jim is a former trial lawyer who now writes and speaks full time. He is the bestselling author of Try Dying, No Legal Grounds, Presumed Guilty, Glimpses of Paradise, Breach of Promise and several other thrillers. He is a winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction, and was a fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine. He has written two books in the Writers' Digest serie ...more
More about James Scott Bell
“The great spy novelist John Le Carré suggested this axiom: The cat sat on the mat is not the beginning of a story. The cat sat on the dog's mat, is.” 2 likes
“What I found was a moment where the main character has to figuratively look at himself, as in the mirror. He is confronted with a disturbing truth: change or die.” 1 likes
More quotes…