Blog Post #30: Best Books on Writing, Using Super Structure to Plot Your Novel

Drafting can seem like such an overwhelming, odious task. With the right tools, drafting a book’s outline can easily be completed in a single day with the help of multiple sources. This is the beginning of a mini-series on the best books for helping writers become authors.

James Scott Bell’s Super Structure is easily the writing book I use the most when plotting. Period. End of blog post. See you all tomorrow.

In all seriousness, I recommend this book to anyone who plots their own stories. The story beats listed are crucial, especially the MIRROR MOMENT.

The Mirror Moment specifically is a moment (roughly around the middle of a book) where the character realizes they’re going to die (either physically, emotionally, or psychologically) unless they change their outlook by confronting their trauma. It is CRUCIAL to every story, it is the pivotal moment in the character arc, and if your story is missing the mirror moment, your readers won’t care about your main character.

In fact, James Scott Bell has another writing book all about the Mirror Moment called Write Your Novel from the Middle. It is a good reinforcement of the purpose the MM and its necessity to the character arc, but Super Structure is more important.

Bell lists his story beats as “Fourteen Signposts”. Some experienced plotters may go “Hey! This sounds a lot like Save the Cat!” While there are similarities to Save The Cat, another plotting book I own, I find Bell’s Super Structure more concise and straightforward and subsequently, easier to reference when plotting.

The Fourteen Signposts are:

The Disturbance (Act 1 Opener)
The Care Package
The Argument Against Transformation
Trouble Brewing
Doorway of No Return #1 (Act 2 Opener)
Kick In The Shins
Mirror Moment
Pet the Dog (Literally, Save the Cat)
Doorway of No Return #2 (Act 3 Opener)
Mounting Forces
Lights Out
Q Factor
Final Battle
Transformation
The Final Word (Epilogue/Denouement)

The Q Factor is another IMPORTANT piece of storytelling that is often overlooked in other plotting books but is SURPRISINGLY prevalent in story!

To find out how these beats translate to a story, I suggest you get yourself a copy of Super Structure on Amazon today!

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