Monday, 13 October 2014

Favourite Writing Craft Books - Ian Acheson


Photo courtesy of
JamesScottBell.com
I've found this book to be invaluable in working through my current manuscript. Bell outlines the significance of identifying the magical midpoint moment or "Mirror Moment" when structuring one's story.

The “Mirror Moment” Bell outlines is exactly that, a moment in a scene, not an entire scene, reflecting the midpoint of your novel. It’s that moment when the protagonist “takes stock of where he/she is in the conflict” and assesses what to do in order to be successful.

On determining this "moment", the author is able to move backwards in building to the midpoint and then forwards in forming the transformation that needs to take place.

I found in my current WIP I was stuck with too many conflicts which was leading me down too many dead ends. Being able to crystalise this moment has allowed me to remove the nebulous conflicts and drive harder towards a resolution.

In providing practical examples from both famous novels and movies Bell effectively demonstrates the power this gives the author in both setting up the story and taking it through to its end. Two of the movies he refers to: Lethal Weapon and The Fugitive are ones I know very well and so I had one of those “aha” moments when he relayed their “look in the mirror moment.”

Bell outlines how this works for the plotter, the pantser (that’s me) and everyone in between. He also references how it impacts the character-driven and plot-driven approaches to a novel.

In addition, this short book (only 85 pages) provides a quick overview of story structure, the impact of genre and some extra bonuses at the end. I expect much of this last section to be familiar to many of the resident Bell supporters amongst our ACW clan but it’s in a useful summary form, easy to digest.





Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for that Ian. I've had that book on my "to read" list for a while, but I'll move it up the order. Sounds like a really practical guide :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Nola, and you'll read it very quickly. The Kindle version is the less than the cost of a cuppa so if you're able to read Kindle docs then it's very well worth it.

      Delete
  2. I agree, Ian. This is definitely worth reading, and you've provided a good review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Iola. I think I've seen your review a few months ago which I thought gave an excellent summary of the book's key points.

      Delete
  3. This was another book of his that switched on a light bulb for me, Ian. I just checked through my last M/S to check the 'mirror moment'. And like e says, it definitely defines the plot and the characters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like you didn't need to read it then, Rita, as you get the concept already. Well done on capturing the essence of the mirror moment in your MS.

      Delete
  4. I agree, Ian. Well worth reading. Really enjoyed hearing JSB speak at the RWNZ conference and showing those moments on the big screen. I'm a visual learner so it really helped!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that would have been great seeing JSB demonstrate it on the screen. Did he use some of the movies he mentions in the book to illustrate it as well?

      Thanks, Andrea, for popping by to share your endorsement. Bless,

      Delete
  5. I've heard of this one. Really should read it. I'm keen to see how this enhances what I've already learned about story structure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Adam. As I mentioned, it's a quick read, cheap if you buy the Kindle version and is full of lots of good tips on story structure. Even if you don't learn anything new it will reinforce many of the points you've previously learnt.

      Delete
  6. Hi Ian, I agree, it's a helpful book. He talked about the midpoint during his workshop at the RWAustralia conference, and I remember he used a number of examples from The Fugitive.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for that Ian. It is not a book I was familiar with

    ReplyDelete