I wasted ten years of prime writing life because of the Big Lie. – James Scott Bell
James Scott Bell gave up on becoming a writer because he had been told
- writing can’t be taught;
- writers are born;
- the story just flows naturally on the page;
- you either have what it takes or you don’t;
- if you don’t, you’ll never get it.
Today, Bell is a bestselling author of suspense novels who learned how to write. It was his desire and his goal. “The itch to write would not go away.” He started reading books on the craft of writing and realized that the Big Lie was exactly that. He was learning how to write, it was a life-changing discovery, and there was no stopping him.
Bell now spends a good portion of his life sharing his story and teaching the craft. He tells his students to put down the Big Lie and replace it with the Truth:
The truth is that craft can be taught and that you, with diligence and practice and patience, can improve your writing. – James Scott Bell, Plot & Structure
His words are like balm to my writer’s soul.
Bell mentored my friend Katie in her early days. She is now a published author, so it was with her recommendation that I bought this book. Bell’s teaching is practical and his writing tone makes you feel as if he’s sitting on the couch next to you. It’s a friendly conversation with someone whose goal is to turn you into the writer of your dreams.
In the book’s introduction, Bell gives six ways to become a good plotter. When I read them, though, I saw them useful for any aspect of your writing life:
- Get motivated.
- Try stuff.
- Stay loose.
- “First get it written, then get it right.”
- Set a quota.
- Don’t give up.
That’s solid and easy-to-swallow advice from a professional, successful writer. Bell is a cheerleader for writers who are new to the craft and have faith in their ability to learn. Read his book to get the complete picture. You’ll be freed from the Big Lie.
[Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell is part of the Writer’s Digest “Write Great Fiction” series, and is the first in the series that I’ve read. Next on tap is Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress. FYI: I’m not an affiliate for Writer’s Digest. I just think Plot is a great book. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information about payments for writing.)
How has the Big Lie been holding you back from moving ahead in your writing life?