20 Master Plots and How to Build Them
by: Ronald B. Tobias
“So the point of this book isn’t so much to give you a rundown of twenty master plots, but to show you how to develop plots in fiction.” Page 7, Kindle edition.
That quote pretty much sums up this book for me, and I think the author did a good job of providing his claimed intention. While I read a lot of criticism about this book saying that it was too narrowly defined or there were too many examples or other such things. The author goes out of his way to remind the reader that there are not a finite number of plots.
Personally, I liked the examples, for it allowed me to see the plots being used, and since there were a few plots that varied slightly from each other in terms of definition, it helped to have an example of both which I could compare to each other.
But “Plot is a slippery thing, and no one can hold onto it for long.” Page 11, Kindle edition.
Plot is a starting point, not the finishing touch. Until you know your plot and begin to understand what your readers will expect by your plot, you can’t write a perfectly plotted novel.
Although this book had great tips for developing plot, I didn’t feel that it a book to help me during the writing of my novel–rather it would help me plot it before hand. That’s a great resource to have though, and can help immensely during the outlining of a novel, whether that pre- or post-first draft.
It’s not one that I think I would purchase and add to my shelf of writing books, but I will keep it in my Kindle to refer back to for future works perhaps. It’s not a book I regret spending my time on, as seeing how having a solid plot gives you a heads up in terms of writing your story well.
After each of the 20 plots mentioned, the author gives a reference checklist for that plot, allowing you to probe how your character arcs and plot line should be applied for the given plot. While he does mention that these plots are not set in stone, he warns against deviating too far from the traditional plot. He also does state that these are not the only plots in the world, but simply 20 of the major ones.
Definitely a book I consider worth reading, but maybe check it out from the library or the Kindle Unlimited program.