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
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!


Blog Post #24: Finishing Rough Drafts and The Last Fifty Pages

Goals for the rest of the week and my thoughts on James Scott Bell’s The Last Fifty Pages.

The past week I celebrated completing the first draft of my dark fantasy romance book Silver Blood. Now it’s on to writing additional scenes for pacing.

Finishing my fourth manuscript felt a little surreal. It’s the first completed manuscript of 2022, and as happy as I am with the draft, sadly, nothing feels good enough when it comes to self-publishing. It’s definitely the most clean of my manuscripts, requiring only minor additional scenes and no major changes to the plot, but I still can’t help but feel like I’m behind the 8-ball. Always behind.

The newest addition to my writing book collection is James Scott Bell’s The Last Fifty Pages, a book very pertinent to my current project. James’s books are very straight forward, a major plus of his craft books because he doesn’t waste time (or pages) being overly verbose; he just tells you exactly what to do. That isn’t to say that you can’t be creative; the entire purpose of writing is to be creative, right? The succinctness of his style just means you’ll be on to writing your manuscript that much quicker. This book is marketed as a writer’s guide to perfect endings, and I hope to utilize the advice in my own revisions.

I’ve made a list of about 19 scenes to add to Silver Blood. If I can write 1,000 words for each scene, that will be 19K words added, bumping me up to (hopefully) 65K words. Then it’s just line edits and proofreading.

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a special announcement! Thank you, each and everyone of you, for reading my blog! I promise, I am not going to keep you guys hanging!