Super Structure

I think I’m developing a love/hate relationship with James Scott Bell. Especially when it comes to the topic of the Super Structure concept. Love everything I’m learning from his teachings, but, hate that what he says makes a lot of sense and is making me think.


As I mentioned in my first post, I have been listening to plenty of audiobooks on the craft of writing fiction and marketing a novel. I’ve listened to many of James’s audiobooks that are available on Audible. A couple of them twice, they are just that good. To be honest, there is one that is not narrated by JSB and that one took me a little more to get into.

You can tell James loves the craft and loves teaching it. Frankly, his use of different voices sometimes has me wondering if they are not snippets from movies, very entertaining.

About Super Structure

Super Structure, as defined by James Scott Bell, provides a set of markers or guideposts for writing successful fiction. Basically a pattern of significant points in your novel that help to keep the reader interested and engaged. There are fourteen guideposts from the initial Disturbance, through to The Mirror Moment, and then on to the final Transformation.

They all make sense. The order makes sense, the definition and purpose make sense, and why they work makes sense.

During my day job, there is a very common axiom. Trust, but verify. After absorbing to some degree the guideposts, I read a few books in my chosen genre, thriller. Damned if I could not easily identify those guideposts in each of the books. They were not even hidden or hard to find, they bloody well slapped me upside the head. Not only were the guideposts making sense, but I now had real hard evidence that they actually existed in the real world and were being used by real writers.

That Changed Everything

I went back to the wonderful manuscript that I have been working on and started to search and tag the guideposts. Some were there, others, not so much. But what really pissed me off was that I thought the work was in really good shape and an excellent and entertaining story. Nope. Not a chance. Parts of the manuscript drag on, have no real conflict, and I don’t even have a mirror moment. At 45 thousand words, I have a bunch of ideas and scenes that won’t invoke, as they are currently written, the ultimate need to turn the page.

Ultimately, This Is A Good Thing

If I had continued with the writing as I was, I have no doubt, it would have been a great story for some. If they ever finished reading it. Repeat business would be non-existent, or worse, negative word of mouth. I believe James Scott Bell has saved my writing career before I had a chance to self-sabotage.

Now I know what I have. A collection of scenes and ideas and some really interesting characters. I have what I believe is a good plot. Ultimately, I have an incomplete 45 thousand word outline for what I hope will eventually be a page-turner.

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