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Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  643 ratings  ·  90 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 r
Kindle Edition, 120 pages
Published January 28th 2015 by Compendium Press
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Theresa Alan
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a short book, but I found myself putting a bookmark on pretty much every page. I got it electronically, and I wish I’d bought it hard copy so I could physically flip through the pages to see my highlights and sticky notes. It’s that helpful and inspiring for fiction writers. Highly recommend.

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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
Ariel Masters
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Awesome resource with tips for plotters and pansters alike. It was a quick read too, which I enjoyed.😊
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.

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.
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
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read James Scott Bell's "Plot and Structure" book. It was great! It has a lot of details. However, if you want a quick reference, get to the point list of plot beats, then the Super Structure is really useful. I have studied other plot structures such as The Hero's Journey by Joseph Cambell and 31 Functions by Vladimir Propp. Those are amazing to keep in hand as well. All three are different and it really helps when you're having writers block and just need some guidance on where to go next. I ...more
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.
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.
Jonathan H. Later
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
extremely short, but straight to the point!
If you are not a person that has ever tried structure in writing, this may be a starting point for you. There is a lot of stigma that comes with which way you write, a plotter, or a pantser, but this book covers that both are important for writing. However, we should all acknowledge that structure is key to writing quickly and staying on point. James Scott Bell is not attempting to change your writing style, but he is helping you make your writing bett
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
Frida Andreasson
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this little book the structure of a functioning story is unfolded, explaining why it works.

The explanations are mainly given through examples, using a few books and movies to show how it works. The examples chosen were probably pretty good, meaning stories a lot of people are familiar with, especially people in the United States. Problem is, I’m not American, and I only have passing familiarity with the works used as examples. Still, I think most of the information got through. It’s universal
Suz Jay
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
“...what is in the author's heart/ mind is meaningless if it is not communicated by the words on the page. The challenge is to make/ allow the reader to experience the meaning and emotion by reading printed words. That is the magic trick.”

I’m a big fan of James Scott Bell. I recently attended one of his phenomenal workshops and am reading several of his books to help cement that knowledge as I plot a novel.

Super Structure defines the fourteen sign posts JSB recommends for a well structured novel
Patricia Tiffany Morris
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Super Structure: The Key to Unleashing the Power of Story.
The latest read resource on Structuring your story novel was delightful and compelling. A fabulous format works for those who consider themselves Pantsters as well as those novel plotters. The author crafts specific instructions for each “type” of writer style. I stayed up all night, highlighting, re-reading sections, and took time in the PART TWO of the Kindle edition to brainstorm along-side of the author, James Scott Bell. It is rare f
Ken Heard
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Many books on the craft of writing take the stance of plotting out novels rather than writing and "seeing what happens." James Scott Bell offers advice for both styles of writing: The Plotters and the Pantsers.

It's a good instruction book, but it takes away the magic of the writing process by creating a firm structure. However, that structure is needed and he recognizes that plotting won't necessarily take away the creative flows of a Pantser writer. Bell, who is a Plotter, has written several
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
Corey Scott
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Great And Practical Guide

I truly enjoyed this book on story structure because it provided a solid, practical guide to story structure. What sets this book a part in my opinion, is that not only does the author talk about story structure but he goes a step further and goes into great detail about when certain writing beats or signposts should occur and how they impact the overall story. Then, what really took it to the 5 star level in my mind was the many references to popular books, where he p
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
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
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A good tool for plotters and pantsers alike.
If you've read Bell's Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and Everyone in Between, you'll know the basics of the Super Structure. This delves into it, clarifies certain points, and gives loads of examples from popular books and movies.

A good addition to my writer's toolbox. Do no regret buying. :)
Margie Sullivan
Jan 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
I still read the books James Scott Bell puts out hoping, I suppose, for soemthing new. Unfortunately this one is a regurgitation of his other books. The first one I read was great, the second was pretty good, the third was 'isn't he just saying the same old thing in another way'. And the rest - well, you get the gist. But he still keeps pushing them out - and people keep reading them. Good luck to him I suppose.
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:)
Bethany  T
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-writing
Easy to read. Not my particular cup of tea, but that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the content or the author, just that it's not how my own thought process works. Very much appreciated that the author includes tips for plotters and pantsers. Not a bad option for thinking about structure with some fairly straight forward examples.
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.
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!
J.M. Hackman
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This easy-to-read book on plotting a novel includes tips for pantsers, too. Although I've read other books on structure & plotting, Bell's ideas are laid out in an easy to undestand format with some plot generating ideas I've not heard of (will definitely try them out with my next project!) ...more
Tristen Ashchi
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Helped me a lot

I found myself employing the lessons in this book for my newest manuscript, and have been amazed at how exciting the story is getting - I haven't even moved past the outline yet!
Carlos Carrasco
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
The method Bell suggests is so simple I think it can't help but work. As a 'pantster,' I was particularly struck by his suggestion that our free wheeling first drafts are really little more than elaborate outlines. It's enough to make me consider outlining from now on.
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.
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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

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