Scene and Structure : Elements of Fiction Writing by Jack M. Bickham

Book description from the publisher:
How to construct fiction with scene-by-scene flow, logic and readability.
Paperback; 168 pages.

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© 2002 Terescia Harvey.

Terescia Harvey is an aspiring romance writer and the web mistress of Happily Ever After: Resources for Romance Writers and Readers. Visit her website at This review is posted with permission of the author.

When I bought Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham, one of the books from the Elements of Fiction Writing from Writer's Digest Books , I got an even better resource than I expected.

As the author of more than 80 books , including Twister (on which the recent movie was based) and The Apple Dumpling Gang (who doesn't recognize that title?), Jack M. Bickham was more than qualified to write an instructional book on writing. I didn't realize all this about the author until I started reading Scene and Structure.

With chapters such as: planning and revising scenes for maximum effect, scene-sequel tricks to control pace, and common errors in scenes and how to fix them, Jack M. Bickham has written a comprehensive guide to the structure of a novel's most important part -- the scene.

In my opinion, a quote straight from Chapter 1: The Structure of Modern Fiction sums up the entire purpose of the book.

"[A] thorough understanding and use of fiction's classic structural patterns frees the writer from having to worry about the wrong things, and allows her to concentrate her imagination on characters and events rather than on such stuff as transitions and moving characters around, when to begin or open a chapter, whether there ought to be a flashback, and so on. Once you understand structure, many such architectural questions become virtually irrelevant -- and structure has nothing to do with 'filling in the blocks.'" (p.1)

Jack Bickham goes on to outline in detail how to structure your novel. He devotes an entire chapter to plotting with scene and sequel, and in that chapter (a chapter I considered one of the best in Scene and Structure) he discusses how to maintain rising action in your story. From this chapter alone, I learned enough to feel like I got my money's worth out of Scene and Structure.

Many people have written reviews and recommended this book. I have to say that I agree with the recommendation. Scene and Structure is a book that I would recommend to any writer, whether a romance, science-fiction, fantasy, or mystery writer. Before his death, Bickham was a creative writing professor. His expertise shows. Scene and Structure covers its subject clearly and thoroughly. I highly recommend this book to all fiction writers.

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