How to Write Best-Selling Fiction

Course No. 2533
Professor James Scott Bell, JD
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4.8 out of 5
26 Reviews
92% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 2533
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What Will You Learn?

  • Discover why the way you structure your story is so important and develop a system to create a fool-proof one.
  • Explore the various types of subplots and how—and when—to use them within the main story.
  • Learn how the LOCK system provides the structure you need to create an engaging story.
  • 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.

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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

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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...
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How to Write Best-Selling Fiction is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 26.
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
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Course in this Subject Both my wife and I were so impressed with the information provided. The presentation was smooth and listening to him was a pleasure. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2019-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from To-the-point guide. Most "how to write a novel" authors seem too timid to get to the hard core structure of story telling. James Scott Bell however, sets out the specific steps for writing a best selling novel or screenplay. His discussion of the three "acts", "signposts", and the "doorways of no return", are spot-on. This course is sort of a compendium of his many books on writing and the structure required to organize your story ideas into the logical order required to appeal to the most people. This course is clear and concise and very useful for struggling authors who are not sure how to tell their stories.
Date published: 2019-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Content, Good Stories I bought this course before I got surgery, knowing I would have time to actually get started as I recuperated. I have a great historical plot concerning a conspiracy during the Civil War that simply requires writing. Since I have little training on fictional characters, I was thrilled with the great advice, the useful exercises and the insights offered. It's going to take me a long time to unpack the information in all the lectures, but I know my story will be much better for it. I have already seen improvement. Thanks, Mr. Bell.
Date published: 2019-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Impressed I already held a high opinion of James Scott Bell having read a couple of his books on writing. The course was more useful because the visuals were so illustrative, for example I really understand signpost now. I generally prefer audio but here there is almost an interaction, rare in a lecture. He seems so sincere and genuinely desirous of advancing the craft. It is like learning the lexicon of the field. I was expecting a lot, yet was still impressed.
Date published: 2019-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great instruction Good nuts and bolts advice, without all that ivory tower professorial babble. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2019-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation of the novel-writing craft Bell presents a through tutorial on the aspects of solid novel writing. His insight into plot, structure, dialog, pacing, etcetera is both detailed and clear.
Date published: 2019-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As good as it gets As an aspiring bestselling author, I’ve bought countless books on writing fiction and am familiar with their authors. While they are mostly good, James Scott Bell is the best. He offers his very best material— and the best material you’ll be able to find on writing bestselling fiction- in this course. Not only does he have his content right, he has his psychology right— he gives you the correct attitude you need to have to be a successful writer. So not only does he offer world-class knowledge, he offers world-class understanding of the craft of writing. I’m thrilled with this course and the Teaching Company couldn’t have offered a better one.
Date published: 2019-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best How-To-Write Class...Ever! I have read almost every how-to-write book ever written, and I have taken ALL the writing DVDs from The Great Courses as well as the Master Classes, and have attended many writing conferences. I can say, without a doubt, this DVD by James Scott Bell is the BEST How-To-Write class I have experienced. The class is organized and structured in a logical format, with numerous examples from commercial fiction, literary fiction, and novel-based films. Mr. Bell's delivery is both professional and conversational, and the course guidebook that accompanies the DVD provides a succinct and complete review of the course so that one can enjoy the presentation, and then review the material by reading the guidebook. As a self-published author of two books, Mr. Bell's course has given me hope that I may some day write a book worthy of a traditional publisher.
Date published: 2019-04-15
Rated 1 out of 5 by from For rank beginners only!! I own maybe forty great courses and this one is hands-down the worst. Even those that have serious flaws and fatal shortcomings nonetheless have offered me Some great insights into their subjects. This one literally hasn’t told me one thing I didn’t learn years ago, and conveyed it in about as boring a manner as I can imagine. I can see how it might be perceived as helpful by an absolute beginner in the field of creative writing, but frankly, a writer that clueless will not even recognize the insights this course has into the writing endeavor and certainly will not learn enough from this course that will make her/him a writer worthy of publication. For that reason, I can’t think of anyone at any level I’d recommend this course to. The other reviewer is right about the presentation itself: the idea of this course being a video course is ludicrous. The only thing that would benefit from a video component are the long excerpts the instructor creates/reads, and not one provides any written text to follow along. Nothing else in the course—nothing!—is anything other than the instructor as a talking head reading his script off a teleprompter.
Date published: 2019-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear focus on a specific goal This is my 2nd "Great Courses" course on fiction writing and this one is clearly and unabashedly focused on what you have to do to write fiction that will sell. It's definitely a "Follow these steps if you want to succeed" sort of approach, an interesting contrast from the previous course. The lecturer, former lawyer James Scott Bell, sometimes uses examples from film as well as the written word, believing that the principles are the same. This is the first time I've tried the "Download" option, but have not downloaded anything. I generally just stream to my TV using the Android Great Courses app on my tablet, along with Chromecast, although I've also streamed on my desktop computer from the Great Courses website. So far, I've been through the first 8 lectures (of 24).
Date published: 2019-04-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good professor, very poor filming "How to Write Best-Selling Fiction" was a huge disappointment for me. The professor is good and has some excellent ideas and concepts to present. However, the filming style and the graphics used were so distracting and poor that they ruined would could have been a good course. For example, in the upper right quadrant (see image attached I circled the moving graphic in yellow) there is a moving graphic of a hand writing with a pen followed by pages flipping. This video loops through virtually everything. It is so annoying and distracting. And as soon as I would be able to ignore that busy mess of shifting nonsense, the camera angle would chance and I would abruptly be watching the professor from an oblque angle. That filming style was so poor I ended up just listening to the class and not even watching the crummy visual part of the course. I was greatly disapointed by how the Great Courses took a good professor and made it way to busy and messy. I wish in the ratings I could rate the professor's content, which was a 5 (very good), and contrast that to the filming and graphics which were added in, which is a 1 (very poor).
Date published: 2019-04-09
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