How to Write Best-Selling Fiction

Course No. 2533
Professor James Scott Bell, JD
Share This Course
4.8 out of 5
55 Reviews
87% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 2533
Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Discover why the way you structure your story is so important and develop a system to create a fool-proof one.
  • numbers Explore the various types of subplots and how—and when—to use them within the main story.
  • numbers Learn how the LOCK system provides the structure you need to create an engaging story.
  • numbers Gain insightful tips to keep realistic dialogue from being predictable by learning how to script the unexpected.

Course Overview

Most people think the way to write a best seller is to have a lot of talent and even more luck. And when you look at the stories behind massively successful breakouts, it certainly does feel that way. Consider that Harry Potter got published because the chairman of Bloomsbury happened to give his eight-year-old daughter the first chapter. There’s no denying that’s a good bit of luck. But underneath the lucky break is the solid foundation for a book that utilizes all the elements of a successful story: a lively plot, relatable characters, and a strong structure. There are scenes that jump off the page, dialogue that makes a reader laugh, and a style that resonates with all audiences. As you will learn, there is a recipe for success, and luck may be the least important ingredient in creating a best seller.

When it comes to solving the mystery of what makes a best-selling novel, no one has cracked the code better than James Scott Bell. A best-selling author himself, winner of the International Thriller Writers Award and the Christy Award for Suspense, plus the author of the number-one best seller for writers, Mr. Bell has been teaching the principles of best-selling fiction for over 20 years, principles that apply to any genre or style.

In the 24 lectures of How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, Mr. Bell provides a comprehensive, eye-opening, and illuminating survey of the entire writing process, as well as a full breakdown of how dozens of best-selling authors have implemented these best practices in their own writing. Any aspiring author will gain a wealth of tools that that will not only improve their ability to write, but will also increase their enjoyment of the craft.

Great Expectations

Do you have a best seller in you? Mr. Bell believes you do. But tapping into your creativity isn’t always easy. When best-selling authors such as Stephen King, Michael Crichton, or Janet Evanovich deliver success after success, it can appear as if creating worlds where ghost-infested hotels drive people mad is something that some writers can just … do. We all have creativity in us, but sometimes we need help getting in touch with it. Mr. Bell gets you started by offering several fun, challenging, and mind-expanding exercises that help you flex and develop your creative muscle. Grab a pen and give these a try:

  • What-If Moments: We all have crazy what-if thoughts that cross our minds from time to time. Likely, most of us simply just laugh them off. Try making the most of what-if moments. The next time you wonder, “What if this plant I’m looking at suddenly started talking to me?”—roll with it. What would it say? Would you talk back or run away? There is a story here.  
  • Weird Job Situations: Giving people insight into the daily life that only a few select people could provide can be a fascinating read. And putting your characters in jobs with tremendous tension helps keep your reader on edge. What does a day in the life of a bomb disposal technician look like? How does this person deal with facing death on a regular basis? Would she try to find love and start a family? There is a story here.  
  • Hear the Headlines: But don’t go much further than the headlines. Work with just a limited amount of information and use your imagination to fill in the details. “Scientists Discover New Fish That Walks on Land.” What would that look like? Do you go fishing or hunting? There is a story here.  
  • The First-Line Game. As Mr. Bell points out throughout the course, the first sentence of a novel is one of the most important. One good line can not only hook your reader into buying the book, it can hook you into a story you never imagined. Experiment with fun, funny, weird, cool, intriguing first lines and see where they take you. “Today I learned you should never travel to Jupiter without an extra pair of underpants.” Who is going to Jupiter? Why underpants? Wait, WHAT? There is a story here.  

Don’t get caught up in the realities of our world, the illogic of your ideas, or the fear that someone might laugh. Audiences are eager to suspend their disbelief for a world that captures their imagination. It’s just like Field of Dreams claimed: “If you build it, they will come.” Remember, at some point, Michael Crichton wondered, “What if a mosquito that was stuck in a rock resulted in an amusement park full of real-life dinosaurs? There is a story here…”

LOCK and Key

So, now you’ve got an idea—or a couple dozen. What next?

Mr. Bell demonstrates how famous writers such as Harper Lee, Michael Connelly, Jim Butcher, Margaret Mitchell, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Suzanne Collins, and dozens more apply time-tested best practices to their writing. But even more valuable, he reveals his own secrets and methods for developing page-turning books that readers can’t get enough of.

His helpful LOCK system provides the structure you need to create an engaging story:

L - Lead: Your protagonist can be:

  • positive—the hero, someone who embodies moral codes of a community, someone who readers root for;
  • negative—does not adhere to the moral code, we root for them to change or to get their just desserts; or an
  • anti-hero—has own morals, usually dragged into a community kicking and screaming. You want to bond your reader to your lead by putting them in a terrible situation, a hardship, or inner conflict to evoke sympathy or empathy.

O - Objective: Your lead has a mission: to get something or get away from something.

C - Confrontation: Ramp up engagement by pitting opposition and/or outside forces against the lead accomplishing his or her objective.

K - Knockout: Give your reader a satisfying conclusion that resonates. There are five fundamental endings to best sellers. You will probably recognize them from movies and television shows as well:

  • Lead wins, gains objective;
  • Lead loses, missing objective;
  • Lead loses objective, gains something else of value;
  • Lead wins objective, loses something of value; or
  • Open/ambiguous ending.

Once you’ve locked in your LOCK, you have the start of a best seller.  

The Sense of an Ending

How to Write Best-Selling Fiction is jam-packed with techniques to help bring power to your plot, charisma to your characters, drama to your dialogue, and vitality to your voice. Even for the “pantster” writers—those who reject the planning and plotting approach to writing a book—this course is chock-full of tips for charts, exercises, shortcuts, diagrams, and grids that help you to organize your story, keep your characters unique, and ensure you meet all the fundamental points that a best-selling novel requires. You will walk away with a toolkit of methods to create stories that feel realistic and that resonate with your readers. And no matter what type of writer you are, these insights will take your writing to the next level, with concepts you may not have considered.

For example: the last chapter. Many writers get to that pivotal point and just breathe a sigh of relief as they try to tie up all the loose ends. But as you round the corner of bringing all the pieces together in your ending chapter, Mr. Bell underlines the importance of not underestimating the ending, making sure you have the “Knockout” of the LOCK system. As Mickey Spillane noted, “The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.” Mr. Bell has already provided you with masterful means to get your reader hooked with the first chapter—and potentially the very first line! And now, he reveals five strategies that will help you finish your book in a way that gets your reader craving your next title.

The Corrections

Ahhh, the revising and editing stage of your book. This process is where so many potential writers fall off the rails. Because there is no denying it: It’s hardto find fault in your baby. As Mr. Bell puts it, to be successful you must “write like you’re in love, edit like you’re in charge.”

Revisions are extremely important and take a lot of discipline. Mr. Bell introduces you to the two most important rules of writing and then his own corollary to those rules. Looking at the practices of famous writers such as Robert Crais, Lawrence Block, Dean Koontz, Ridley Pearson, and more, Mr. Bell offers a treasure trove of insights for this important stage.

He gives you suggestions for creating a revision schedule versus revising as you go, and tells you why it’s imperative that you take a cooling-off period before you take a first pass. Discover tricks for helping you to re-read your own work with fresh eyes. Learn shortcuts for marking places you need to come back to so you can read your book straight through. Mr. Bell provides you a valuable list of questions to ask yourself as you read, a list of reminders to check off as you read, and tricks to ensure you are not overusing words or terms. If you consider using outside readers, he also offers a list of questions and points that you can ask them to be aware of so you receive constructive feedback—because your mom will always love your book. He also gives you advice regarding the use of a professional editor. Finally, he offers a wealth of tips about polishing your second draft.


Once your book is done, Mr. Bell doesn’t just leave you on a cliffhanger. He gives you a final series of lectures that cover the pros and cons of using an agent; a breakdown of the query, synopsis, and sample chapter; the benefits and pitfalls of self-publishing; and more. After the 24 lectures of How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, you’ll feel empowered to take your finished novel in whichever direction you feel most comfortable with, whether it’s using an agent or self-publishing.

The famous writer Somerset Maugham once said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” And maybe no one knows the “rules,” but there are writing techniques, practices, and fundamentals that writers have used for decades to become best-selling authors. And as Picasso proved, once you master those fundamentals, you can then create your own rules. With How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, you get an intimate introduction to the fundamentals of how to write your best seller, from a best-selling author who has mastered the secrets to success.

Now get writing.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Tell Me a Story
    Mr. Bell introduces you to the seven critical success factors of fiction and shows you how best-selling writers put them into practice. He explores literary genres through the success of best sellers written by authors such as Harper Lee and Gillian Flynn. He then challenges you to see if you have what it takes to be a best-selling author, as he outlines the 10 characteristics that a serious writer must possess. Discover why he surprisingly counts talent among the least important of the traits. x
  • 2
    Anatomy of a Best Seller
    What is a novel? Looking at examples from writers including John Grisham, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, J. D. Salinger, Suzanne Collins, Thomas Harris, and more, Mr. Bell analyzes first what makes a novel, and then, what makes a novel successful. He also provides his own insights by looking at the role luck plays in creating a best seller. Learn how you first must “master the pyramid” before you can “try your luck on the wheel of fortune.” x
  • 3
    Developing Ideas
    Jump-start your creativity with a selection of fun exercises, including “What-If Moments” and “The First-Line Game.” Mr. Bell cites best-selling authors such as Alice Sebold and Mickey Spillane to demonstrate the importance of creating unique elements: a twist, a character, a setting, a relationship. Find out how to create the ever-important elevator pitch. x
  • 4
    The LOCK System: A Foundation for Your Novel
    Using a proprietary system of his own invention, Mr. Bell introduces you to the foundational principles of a successful novel: LOCK (Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout). He’ll demonstrate how famous authors such as Stephen King, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Theodore Dreiser, Michael Connelly, and others utilize these fundamental elements. Review the five types of endings and discover the pros and cons of each. x
  • 5
    Structuring Your Novel
    Learn why stories need—and love—structure. By rethinking a structure as a recipe, you realize you can still be original and creative within the template that works for best sellers. Dive into the writing styles of “pantsers” versus “plotters” and get a better understanding of whether you want to aim for a plot-driven or a character-driven story. And using the writings of John Grisham, Ernest Hemingway, James Patterson, Stephen King, E. L. Doctorow, Lee Child, and others, evaluate the traditional mythical structure of a three-act story. x
  • 6
    Act I: The Disturbance
    See how James M. Cain, Harlan Coben, Anne Lamott, Ken Follett, James Clavell, and Dean Koontz often use a jolt or disturbance in the first few pages, if not the very first sentence, to hook a reader in, and how that often contributes to the book becoming a best seller. Look at other elements that you will need to include in the first act that will build up the character bonding and tension, which will keep readers riveted. Mr. Bell reveals an easy-to-use visual map that will help you plot out the most important elements for each act. x
  • 7
    Act II: The Arena of Conflict
    Building out Act Two means creating an “arena of conflict”—this is where your lead realizes he or she needs to overcome a challenge. Mr. Bell introduces you to the concept of a “mirror moment” and provides examples of authors who have demonstrated this technique, such as Margaret Mitchell, Suzanne Collins, Mario Puzo, Harper Lee, Thomas Harris, and Dashiell Hammett. Uncover three other elements that make a great second act and get introduced to the four options which will get your character to the final battle. x
  • 8
    Act III and Resolution
    Mickey Spillane noted, “The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book.” Mr. Bell has already provided the tools to get your reader hooked with the first chapter—and potentially the first line! Now, he provides the five strategies that will help you end your book in a way that gets your reader craving your next title. x
  • 9
    Jump-off-the-Page Characters
    Now that you know the secrets of a page-turning plot, Mr. Bell opens the toolbox for creating characters. Learn how to use unpredictability so your readers don’t get bored with cliché characters or trite traits. Calling on the practices used by best-selling writers including Michael Connelly, Richard Stark, David Morrell, Harper Lee, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Lee Child, and Janet Evanovich, you’ll see how to develop flaws and baggage to make your characters relatable and human. Plus, get hints about building secondary characters, villains, and what it takes to keep a character interesting through an ongoing series. x
  • 10
    Bringing Characters to Life
    Mr. Bell reveals two ways to bring your characters to life, along with a myriad of techniques you can put into practice, including a list of questions to “ask” your character, a timeline, a voice journal, a simple relationship grid, and the areas you should plan to research. Study famous characters developed by Marcel Proust, Lawrence Block, Jim Butcher, Walter Mosley, Robert Crais, James Lee Burke, Michael Connelly, Joyce Carol Oates, and more to reveal the techniques the best sellers use. Learn how minor details such as patterns of speech, dress, physical appearance, mannerisms, tics, eccentricities, and even names can have a major impact. x
  • 11
    Point of View
    What does your point of view provide? The most important component of a point of view is that it establishes intimacy between a reader and a character. Dive into the concepts of point of view including: first person, omniscient, second person, and third person (limited and open). Study how Henry Fielding, Charles Dickens, Mario Puzo, James Clavell, J. D. Salinger, Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John D. MacDonald, Suzanne Collins, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Herman Melville, and others use point of view successfully. x
  • 12
    The Essentials of Dazzling Dialogue
    Mr. Bell demonstrates how dialogue is the fastest way to improve any manuscript. He introduces the five functions of dialogue and breaks down the importance of vocabulary, syntax, and specifics like regionalism to help build the character. Examine examples from Orrie Hitt, Margaret Mitchell, John Howard Lawson, Charles Webb, and others. Explore the importance of subtext—what is underneath the words and how it can suggest secrets, fears, memories, yearnings, or hopes. x
  • 13
    Tools for Talk
    Gain insightful tips to keep realistic dialogue from being predictable by learning how to script the unexpected. Mr. Bell challenges you with exercises like determining the opposite of what a reader would assume a response should be, curving the language, and assigning “roles” to your characters to better form relationships, conflict, and realistic conversations. You’ll also gain tips for invoking silence—white space and inner monologues. Dive into the nuts and bolts of grammar in dialogue. x
  • 14
    Voice and Style
    What is voice? Mr. Bell hasn’t found a good definition, so he gives you his own. Citing examples from Janet Evanovich, Elmore Leonard, Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, and others, you’ll gain the knowledge to master your voice by getting into your character. Then, delve into the rudimentary lessons of a good writer: showing versus telling, avoiding narrative summaries, writing great descriptions, and using telling details. Mr. Bell demonstrates some easy tools for helping you avoid common pitfalls, such as plotting an intensity scale and a seven-step checklist for creating a setting. x
  • 15
    Make a Scene
    According to Mr. Bell, a scene consists of objective, obstacles, and outcome. A character always has a goal in every scene, and without a challenge to the goal there is no momentum. See how Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Michael Connelly use an emotional beat—emotion, analysis, and decision—to build conflict and tension in a scene and keep it going. Dissect the elements to create and use a successful hook and how to end each chapter on a prompt that will make the reader want to keep reading. x
  • 16
    Subplots and Parallel Plots
    Understand how weaving in smaller conflicts and challenges—subplots and parallel plots—is a great way to expand a story’s range. Learn the three types of subplots. See how authors such as Jim Butcher, Margaret Mitchell, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly, and Suzanne Collins successfully integrate subplots into their main story lines. Mr. Bell introduces a formula for determining how many subplots your book should have and a simple grid you can use to manage multiple plots. x
  • 17
    Deepening the Reader’s Emotional Experience
    Emotions can be tricky. You must walk a fine line to portray enough emotion to make your story and characters gripping and memorable, but also to avoid melodrama where the emotional hook feels contrived. Mr. Bell shows you how to map the hot spots so you don’t get bogged down writing it. He’ll unpack the power of authors who have mastered delivering an emotional punch, such as John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, John Harvey, and Raymond Chandler. He also introduces an exercise that helps you create strong yet concise emotional moments, and examines the power of metaphors to deepen emotional connection. x
  • 18
    First Pages That Grab the Reader
    Starting a scene is one of the most important parts of a book. Mr. Bell introduces you to the different kinds of beginnings and investigates the benefits of using a prologue. With examples from Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Ken Kesey, Michael Connelly, Suzanne Collins, John Gilstrap, Mickey Spillane, and David Morrell, you’ll learn how to start your scenes with a bang, raise big questions, and then switch things up in the next scene, so your readers are on the edge of their seats. x
  • 19
    Revising Your Novel
    Learn the two most important rules of writing and then hear Mr. Bell’s corollary to those rules. Revisions are extremely important and take a lot of discipline. Get helpful tips for a revision schedule, learn why you need to take a cool-off period before taking a first pass, gain tricks for helping you re-read with fresh eyes, and use shortcuts for marking places you need to come back to so you can read straight through. Mr. Bell also provides excellent advice about using outside readers, both professionals and “beta readers.” x
  • 20
    Blunders and Baloney
    Mr. Bell provides an overview of the most common blunders that could knock you out of the running for publication before you even get started, including awkward flashbacks, fluffy dialogue, being overly happy, or being too predictable. Using examples from best-selling writers including Sarah Pekkanen, Jodi Picoult, Dan Koontz, Mark Twain, and Toni Morrison, he re-evaluates some of the most common writing advice, busting common misconceptions and myths. x
  • 21
    Getting Published
    Mr. Bell unpacks the most important parts of a book proposal that you would send to an agent or a publisher: query, synopsis, and sample chapters—defining each, and breaking down what you should and shouldn’t do. He investigates the pros and cons of using an agent and publisher and gives invaluable advice on what to look for in an agent, how to negotiate a publishing contract, the importance of copyrights, how to protect yourself, and the most important component: getting paid! x
  • 22
    The Self-Publishing Option
    Is self-publishing a viable option? Are the writers who make a living through self-publishing simply lucky? Do you have what it takes to become an “author-preneur?” Mr. Bell spends an entire lecture breaking down the pros and cons of the self-publishing alternative. Gain a plethora of tips of how to find success when self-publishing and learn how to sort through the details like covers, formatting, picking a platform, marketing, and how to price your book. x
  • 23
    Marketing Your Work
    Even if you have an agent, you are still responsible for some aspects of marketing. But you don’t have to have an MBA or be a professional marketer to be a successful advocate for your work. Mr. Bell introduces you to the most important marketing tools. Get tips on selecting a marketable title, creating taglines, finding customers, using social media, building a website, using emails and newsletters, and knowing which self-publishing tools are worth the investment. x
  • 24
    Conquering the Mental Game of Writing
    Look at the most common reasons for writer's block and get tips for how to change your mental state when you feel blocked—see how something as simple as changing your location can change your mood and your mindset. Discover how to find inspiration in unusual places. And finally, Mr. Bell provides advice for dealing with rejection, which all writers face on occasion. Learn how to set your expectations and rejection won’t defeat you. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Instant Audio Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 264-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 264-page printed course guidebook
  • Illustrations & diagrams
  • Suggested reading

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

James Scott Bell

About Your Professor

James Scott Bell, JD
James Scott Bell is an award-winning novelist and writing instructor. He is a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award and the author of the #1 best-selling book on writing, Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish. He received his BA in Film Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he studied writing with Raymond Carver, and his JD...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


How to Write Best-Selling Fiction is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 54.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a great course! The instructor is easy to listen to and understand, and the topics are exactly what a fiction writer like myself wants to learn. I am enjoying this course very much.
Date published: 2020-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Even I can learn. I have written non- fiction, now I hope this will help me write a great fiction
Date published: 2020-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely fantastic This course is crammed with great information--have your notebook ready, or just watch it multiple times. It's that good. All the lectures are interesting and each one inspires me to write. Can't recommend this enough for writers!
Date published: 2020-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Effective learning tools for any style of writing. I've been taking writing courses for the last 5 years, and this course was by far one of the most informative. There are 24 lectures, all worth listening to, even if you'd covered the topic in other writing courses. I really liked James Scott Bell's perspective on writing a best seller, and the tools he offers the students. I especially appreciated his take on making the character jump off the page, as this is something I struggle with.
Date published: 2020-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course has been very helpful for my writing since I am a new writer. It explains the fundamentals that are required in writing a novel. I like that Mr. Bell gives lots of examples. I ordered the DVD, and the guidebook that came with it is very handy.
Date published: 2020-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive and engaging This course is a rich source of information for any aspiring fiction writer. I've taken other courses and read books on writing fiction, but none as informative and practical as this one. As well as entertaining. I was sorry to reach the end.
Date published: 2020-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring! James Scott Bell's courses offers inspiring lessons on writing your book and keeping your readers turning the pages!
Date published: 2020-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to Absorb I didn't have high expectations for this series. Previous efforts have not hit the mark. However, I know good instructors can make a difference. William Zinsser's book, 'On Writing Well' got my article writing career started, so I know it is possible to learn from other writers and from workshops. So, one more try, I thought. Here is the reality - James Bell’s classes do not deal with clues, or rules. He offers road marks to keep you on the path that is known to lead to success. His statements are signs to follow as you travel that path. He teaches you the things a career in writing has shown him, but he also brings many examples from other writers as well. He makes it easy to stay on target, and to keep moving forward. His classes are well designed to be used as an audio only course, as well as viewed as a TV program. While I own the video version, I took it as an audio lecture, and only needed to check a graphic once or twice. But I can also see that visual learners will appreciate the graphic lists he provides. He also presents the overall course with an eye toward lectures being usable as standalone lessons. I found I could drop in and out of lectures based on my interest and needs, and still absorb the message with no difficulty. Better yet, they offer such solid advice the ideas become part of your methods - much like Zinsser did years ago. I cannot offer higher praise than that. Well done, Professor Bell.
Date published: 2020-01-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unknown- never received I bought this item 3 weeks ago with 2 day shipping. It never arrived. It looks like a great video. Too bad I have yet to hear back from Customer support.
Date published: 2020-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative! This course contains lots of tips and tricks to help you with your writing. Professor Bell is a great speaker who really knows the ins and outs of the business. He cites many examples about plot lines, dialogue, etc. Be aware though, most of his examples rely heavily on the detective/ thriller/ mystery genres, as this is what he is most familiar with. I really enjoyed this course!
Date published: 2020-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gives a lot of knowledge It's very good, helps you understand, and it goes to what you need to find your ideas to write the story in your own style.
Date published: 2019-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Far So Good Taking my time working through this course and so far it has been great. Good information and very understandable. Educational and motivating. A little distracting when the instructor is speaking without looking at the camera but its minor. Overall so far its a great course
Date published: 2019-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Only a hundred times better! A thousand times better than anything online, but sadly only a hundred times better than everything else. By the way, I would not recommend this course to anyone—I don’t want my competitors to have it.
Date published: 2019-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just what I was looking for. I enjoyed the clear analysis and comprehensive approach. The silly graphic of a hand writing in each lesson is mild irritant to me, but does not subtract from overall excellent delivery. The speaker is a very good dramatic performer, aided by perfect camera angles, to demonstrate how dialogue can be written. Helpful tips for any writer.
Date published: 2019-12-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good content but shipping is expensive The content of the courses is generally good and worth the purchase price. However, the company’s advertising is somewhat deceptive in that they never mention the fairly expensive shipping charges in their price listings.
Date published: 2019-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE course on writing commercially viable fiction. Get this course. Now. At any price. I've read and listened to a dozen books on how to write fiction (and screenplays). Those tell you how to write proper fiction and that's fine. This course takes the concept further and tells you how to write fiction that has an excellent chance of being commercially successful. No joke. It's like a highly condensed version of all those other books, but it also contains all the sage wisdom of an author who has fought his way up the ladder of success. He quite literally gives away the keys to the kingdom with all of his real world examples.I wish I'd had this course when I was starting out because it would've saved me a ton of wasted time and frustration. I'll just say it - if you only buy one course, it has to be this one. I'd already published a series of books that sold very well and now, listening to this course, it managed to blow me away with both "Aha!" moments and cringe (at my own writing mistakes) moments where I realized issues that I'd messed up. Thankfully, I'm correcting them now. Here's just one example: Listen to what JS Bell says about point of view or "head hopping". He is spot on. If you get that wrong, readers will happily tear into your book in reviews. NOTE: Although I bought the video version of this course, I actually listened to most of it like an audiobook during my commuting. Make sure you download the courses ahead of time via WiFi because the Great Courses App itself tends to be a streaming data hog (regardless of which course you are streaming).
Date published: 2019-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Content The title is a real grabber. How could a lecture live up to that kind of promise? I think this one does. James Scott Bell is clear, gives good advice, and breaks down the task of writing a novel into more manageable chunks. He uses good examples from popular fiction. I like his manner: he's relaxed, clear, and practical with his advice.
Date published: 2019-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Explanatory title As usual you ask for a review far too early. In the time I've had the course I have watched a quarter of it and I intend to give it time and thought, So far James Scott Bell has made me think because he uses unusual descriptors for his points - for example the idea of going through a door or the Mirror Moment. I like Bell's sensible approach and lack of obfuscating fluff and I appreciate the Guidebook that came with it. As usual, I am a happy camper.
Date published: 2019-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect for the Serious Writer This is one of the absolutely best things I have ever done for my dream to write fiction. James Scott Bell lays out the basics simply with lots of examples to illustrate his points as well as visuals for such things as plotting your 3 act structure. It's like attending lectures from a writer who knows what he's talking about because he has done it over and over and he has gleaned gems of instruction from other masters as well. His exercises alone are worth the price of the course. He has wonderful recommendations for further study -- which is so helpful because there are a ton of how-to books out there but I would rather be guided by someone who has read them all. I am so happy I took this course and have the transcript to refer to. It has become my "bible" for writing. Thank you, Mr. Bell for your concise and specific insights into everything from dialogue to plot to characters to publishing. The Great Courses did us all a favor in presenting this course from Mr. Bell.
Date published: 2019-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How to write bestselling fiction This course will definitely put me beyond my struggles as a begining fiction writer.
Date published: 2019-08-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course As with all the courses I've purchased from The Great Courses, this one is packed with information delivered in an easy-to-understand manner.
Date published: 2019-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from How to write best-selling fiction I have taken six other writing courses prior to this one. The course by Bell is by far the best. His teaching on the use of voice and style have been ever so helpful in my doing a final draft of my current book. My editor was amazed at how much more alive my writing has become, due to thei course. A must for any writer!
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The One Course That Every Writer Needs This is an excellent course with all of the information that writer's need. James Scott Bell is a great instructor who presents important information and tips that will truly help you become the best writer you can be. His style and encouragement are much needed to writers, whether you're just starting out, or preparing to write your 12th novel as I am. Yes, this information is available elsewhere, but here you have it all together in one place for easy reference. The examples are wonderful guides to help you learn how to write better as well. All in all, it's one of the best courses here. My only complaint is that I don't understand why it's in video only, as audio is sufficient for this course and the video really isn't necessary to get maximum impact for the course.
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quite an Enjoyable Course If you have any aspirations at all to writing a novel, Professor Bell's Great Course "How to Write Best-Selling Fiction" is money well spent. Even if I never write the first word, this course has been my favorite Great Course to date. I relished the evenings I could make a martini and relax while enjoying one of his lectures. Each and every one has been a joy of revelations! I own several books on novel writing, however this is the first time I've felt truly connected to someone that clearly portrays the lay of the land, what it takes, and how to do it! Thank you Mr. Bell for providing such an excellent and enjoyable course!
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspirational speaker! He brought up great pointers and topics I haven’t thought of before. It obviously came with experience and wisdom. This video and the other one taught by James Hynes; both are essentials when learning and starting your writing projects.
Date published: 2019-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Collection of Lectures is Truly High-Value Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned author, James Scott Bell has guidelines and techniques that can take you where you want to go with your writing. I am a published Crime Fiction author working on the fifth novel in my series. I still spend as much of my time on polishing craft as I do on writing. I already owned most of JSB's books on writing before I bought this video collection. You can't learn it all, but James Scott Bell will help you improve your craft and the quality of your writing faster than just about any other way. He is a great teacher. Your writing will reward you.
Date published: 2019-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent course: informative and inspiring I've written several books, but this course has provided me with a wealth of additional knowledge about other genres and approaches. It is extremely well organized, clearly guiding the "student" through a variety of relevant topics that flow easily into one another. Throughout the course, I was inspired to consider adding specific elements to my own work-in-progress. Not only has it added to my knowledge, but it has also inspired new and fresh ideas. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2019-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Recommended I write fiction as a hobby. I thought this course was comprehensive, and it helped stimulate numerous writing ideas for me.
Date published: 2019-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! I'm really happy I purchased this. I am learning a lot and the professor makes it fun
Date published: 2019-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thank the Heavens for this Course. This course has been the answer to my prayers. Currently I am trying to write a novel (my 3rd and one that I hope will finally be good enough to publish) and, having struggled and tried a couple of different revisions, I was stumped. I had read a lot of "How to Write..." books before and although all of those are good, after going through this courses, they feel quite shallow in comparison. No better example is his lectures on Structure. I have found other authors' "How to Write..." books have been vague about Structure, yes they told you what you needed to do and what to avoid doing, but they haven't gone into the detailed 'hows' like James Scott Bell has. It’s like they have been skimming over the surface of the water, not willing to dive deep into the topic, while Scott Bell is strapping on his wetsuit and clambering into that shark cage of this difficult, but important subject. If not for Scott Bell I may have been stumbling over how to fix the problematic structure of my novel, wasting time and becoming more and more disheartened. And it’s not just structure, Scott Bell gives a lot of tips to help give your writing the punch of Mohammed Ali. Speaking of which the lectures don't only cover the literal craft of writing and getting a book published, but also the more mental aspects that can be reassuring for anyone at any level of the writing gig. It also helps that James Scott Bell is presenting himself as quite laid back, like you are having a conversation with him at a coffee bar. I found him very likable, especially his Scarlett O'Hara impression. Those little moments brought a smile to my face. I have a feeling that this is a course I'm going to keep coming back to, if only to refresh myself on techniques and to get a shot of inspiration. I've already got so much in my system that I can't wait to give my novel another crack.
Date published: 2019-05-07
  • y_2020, m_11, d_23, h_16
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.12
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_5, tr_49
  • loc_en_US, sid_2533, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 59.62ms

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought