Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 12, 2013

9 Step Plot and Structure Exercise

selfeditingJames Scott Bell believes writing can be taught and has spent a lot of time and effort working on developing techniques and sharing them with writers.

I just bought his book, Revision and Self-Editing for Publication where he talks about techniques for transforming your first draft into a novel that sells. Since that is certainly what I want, I bought the book.

In the beginning of the book he reminds the reader of an exercise he shared in his previous book Plot and Structure. 

I can see how this exercise could really help a writer improve their skills, because what it does is burn plot and structure into your mind.

1. Get half a dozen novels of the type you want to write.

2. Read the first book for pleasure and think about it afterward. What did you like about it?

3. Now read the second book and take some time to think about it, too.

4. Read the next four books in the same fashion.

5. Now go back to book one and, on index cards, Mark each scene. Number them, then give us the setting, what the scene is about, and what, if anything, makes you want to read on.

6. Repeat this drill for all the books.

7. Beginning with any stack of cards, go through them quickly, remembering the book, giving yourself a movie in the mind.

8. Do the same with the other stacks of index cards.

9. Keep those cards and review them periodically.

Once you have it in your head – try it on the page. Everyone should be able to write a 100 words a day, even if they are busy and life has gotten in the way. So give the exercise a try and if you are a Prime Member with Amazon and have a Kindle, you can borrow the e-book version of Plot and Structure from their Lending Library for free. I hope it helps.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy, just curious—did you read PLOT & STRUCTURE, too? Just wondering if you like either or both 🙂 This is quite the exercise, too! I’d say the time it takes would probably be equivalent to taking a writing course.


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