The reason we love our books. Take a moment to read like a writer {Plot Fiction Like the Masters by Terry Bazes}


Learning to read like a writer. 

About Plot Fiction Like the Masters : Ian Fleming, Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Story-Building by Terry Richard Bazes
Plot Fiction like the Masters is an exercise in reading like a writer - reading with the purpose of figuring out how the plots of a few recognized masterpieces succeed in making readers turn the page. The reason for proposing this as a way of learning plot-making is my own experience as a writer -- that the most accomplished novelists are the greatest teachers and that their lessons may be drawn from a close study of their work. The three novels under consideration - Ian Fleming's Dr. No, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust - have all achieved astonishing success. They are all not only recognized masterpieces of their very different genres but have also won the glittering prizes - fame, fortune, movie deals -- for which many a haggard writer would sell his or her soul to the Devil.

My two cents

First edition cover, Dr No by Ian Fleming
(By Source, Fair use)
I've always approached books as a consumer, so I read as a reader. So to "read like a writer" puts things in a totally new perspective! This slim book is packed with insights from a purely writer's viewpoint and it rather messed up my head as well as gave me a newfound appreciation for what a demanding task it is to produce a readable and enjoyable story.

Bazes gets us to hunker down with a bit of a lecture in the beginning. Then it gets really interesting as he breaks down the plots of three popular books.

The works are so varied - but all are undeniably popular - that it's hard to imagine anything in common with them. The works are:

  • the James Bond thriller Dr. No by Ian Fleming - I haven't read the book but I've watched the movie; who can forget Sean Connery?
  • the classic and cult favourite Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I've read and watched this, loved it, and I'm looking further to making my acquaintance with more of Austen's works
  • the dark comedy A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh, the only work I am unfamiliar with (but on closer inspection I discovered that Waugh also wrote short stories and I'm intrigued by the prospect of reading his work) 

Title page of first edition, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
By Jane Austen (1775-1817) - Archive: Lilly Library, Indiana University; Original publication: Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: T. Egerton, 1813., Public Domain,











Bazes takes us, step by step through these works, pointing out some little twist or turn or conflict and explaining the simple brilliance behind them, or to be able to even make it possible! What amazing minds these authors have. Sometimes it's so obvious that the not-so-obvious made me go "oh, yes!" Bazes rightly claims "A great plot is a page-turning machine." He gets to the crux of the matter: what makes a reader keep reading, often with bated breath, and what makes them fast fans. At the end, he sums up the main points succinctly and with an oh-so-likeable voice that makes me curious to read one of Bazes's own books!
First edition cover, A Handful of Dust
by Evelyn Waugh (By Source, Fair use)

If you're a reader, this is fascinating. If you're an author, you've struck gold with this book, an amazing resource that will undoubtedly help you discover how to incorporate the practical lessons of plot building. Learning about plotting may require some highbrow intellectual theorizing but a "get yourself in it" attitude inside the plots of books is so much more fun!

Uh-oh

If you've read or are familiar with all three works, I feel that you'll get so much more out of this than someone who isn't. I have read only one of the books, watched the movie version of another, and am totally unacquainted with the other so I feel like I'm probably not giving you the benefit of a fully informed review. However, this certainly didn't deter me from enjoying this highly informative learning piece about plot building. At best, it has made me curious to look further into the works of these authors.

Verdict

A fascinating look into the plots of three popular books and learning how the authors built out there plots to produce page-turning masterpieces! An invaluable resource for authors; a chance for readers to read like a writer. Highly recommended.


I received this slim little book last year for review and I featured it with a guest post from the author, Terry Bazes, who also readily agreed to do a guest post about his writing abode. 

6 comments:

  1. Sounds good but like you, I have only read one of them... Maybe one day if I have read all three I will check into this. Good review!

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  2. It's tougher for the reader ... though I learned a lot! Which one have you read?

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  3. The analysis of specific books sounds especially interesting! I think a lot more about how authors write good books since I started blogging, so I think I'd enjoy this a lot.

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  4. It's pretty in-depth, and now I tend to rethink how I react to books. Kind of like a sober second thought ... Have you read all three books mentioned?

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  5. No, I've actually only read Pride and Prejudice! And I dislike the Bond movies, so I'm not sure Ian Fleming will ever make it to the top of my to-read list, but we'll see :)

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  6. Uhm who watches James Bond but men who want to see Bond's women? ;)

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