Writing the Knockout Novel – James Scott Bell – RWAus14

This was a full day seminar, really good with ideas for plotting and structure.  James Scott Bell was a good presenter, and had a lot of examples from movies and books to illustrate discussion topics.

Overall it was a good day (except seating arrangements, but that is a different story).  My main comments were that I wish he had taken a bit  of time to research more (anything?) about Australia generally, and romance writing specifically.  I realise that he presents this a lot to different audiences.  However if someone is paying you to travel to the other side of the world and give the presentation to a specific audience who – despite the sub-genres – are all writing romance?  I think actually doing some reading up on the romance genre would be a no-brainer.  Reading up on snakes and spiders and Vegemite is not so critical but some of the audience kept bring it up.

Author website:  Jamesscottbell.com

Other sites:

  • KillZoneAuthors.blogspot.com – author discussions
  • Hiveword.com/knockout – writing topics

Content came from a number of his books, including:

Plot and StructureWrite your novel from the MiddleHow to write Dazzling Dialogue

I have plot and structure, and will probably get at least some of the others.  The techniques are good and  I think will be very useful.  I was also really pleased that it meshes really well with the workshop I did two years ago with Alexandra Sokoloff on using the three act structure for writing, which I have been using since then.

Fiction is creating a dream

Each story must contain death:

  • Can be physical
  • Can be professional (eg Clarice Starling as FBI trainee in The Silence of the Lambs)
  • Can by psychological – in romance this should be that if the main characters do not get together in the end, it will ruin booth their lives.  Psychological death is also the key to comedy – characters may be in funny situations but they have to believe that it is serious

He uses the LOCK System:

  • Lead
  • Objective
  • Confrontation
  • Knock–out ending

Types of leads are below:


  • No wimps
  • Strength of will


It is ok to start off weak, but has to change

  •  Stephen King – Rose Madder – starts weak, is in a domestic abuse situation


Plot arcs

  • Outer – obtaining something
  • Inner – becoming – transforming or getting stronger


Three types of leads

Positive lead

  • The hero
  • Represents the values of thee community


Negative lead

  • Opposed to the values of the community
  • Attractive through power
  • They can either be redeemed or get just desserts


Anti hero

  • Has own moral code
  • In the end can rejoin the community or go own way



Scarlet O’Hara

  • Starts off negative
  • Is redeemed at the end, but it is too late


Rick Blaine, Casablanca

  • Anti hero
  • Feels betrayed at the start, doesn’t get involved
  • Rejoins community at the end

Dirty Harry

  • Anti hero
  • Moral code is his gun
  • Throws away badge at the end


Your thoughts and stuff

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