Review: Plot Gardening by Chris Fox

Posted May 28, 2020 by Lola in Non-Fiction, Review / 2 Comments

Review graphic

Plot GardeningPlot Gardening: Write Faster, Write Smarter (Write Faster, Write Smarter #7)
by Chris Fox

My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Non-fiction/ self publishing/ writing

Learn to Plot without sacrificing Creativity

What separates great novels from mediocre ones? Story. Authors that master this vital skill keep their readers up at night, and suffer the deluge of ‘when is the next book coming out’ emails.

Whether you are a first time novelist, or a seasoned author Plot Gardening will teach you the fundamentals of storytelling, delivered in a practical way. Through exercises at the end of each chapter you will build your own outline, and you’ll do it without sacrificing the creativity that is so vital to telling great stories.

In this book you’ll learn:

-The basics of story structure, and how they are used
-How and why worldbuilding are important, and how to do your own worldbuilding
-The components of great characters, and how you can bring yours to life
-How to create a living outline that will change and adapt as your characters come to life

My Review

While I have no intention of writing a book something about this non-fiction book had me curious. And then I was thinking even if it won’t apply it, I could still read it because I find it informative. So I ended up buying and reading this book and I thought this was a great informative read about plotting or plot gardening as the author names it. The author has assembled a method he calls plot gardening to plot your novel and explains the various steps you have to go through to create an outline for your book.

I like this author’s writing style. It’s very to the point, but also has enough examples so you really get what he’s talking about. I thought the book was easy to follow and the examples helped make his points even clearer. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter to apply the knowledge you learned in that chapter and at the end of the book all the exercises are collected in one chapter, which I think is great. If you already read the book and just want to see the exercises you can just check that last chapter.

I learned a lot about story structure in this book and it’s interesting looking at books and seeing some of those concepts back in it and also realizing what is missing in some books. It sure gave me some additional perspective and I think for authors who want to know more about plotting this definitely is a great book to pick up if you want to know more about plotting and outlining your book.

My favorite parts of the book were the parts about world building and characters and flaws. Which coincidentally are also two things I love in books as well. I think the technique of layering flaws was very interesting and a good way to make sure your character doesn’t feel too perfect and have flaws in multiple areas. There were some great questions about world building and ways to think about your world to make it come alive. The parts about set-up and pay-off and different types of scenes and the role of those was great too. I definitely could see the role those things play in a novel.

The part that I found less interesting was the three story act and the heroes journey. I get the significance and the way this can serve as a guideline, but at the same time it almost felt too rigid? Or almost too easy/ same-y that every book in essence has the same build-up. I think it’s important for me to remember that not every writer follows or has to follow those structures exactly and that different genres indeed call for different structures. And I kinda like books that defer from the standard build-up at times, although I can see how it’s an effective tool to help plot your books. I just personally found it less interesting.

To summarize: This was a great book about plotting your novel. Even though I have no intention of writing a book I really enjoyed this one and thought it was an interesting read. It gave me a better understanding of story structure and realize what goes into plotting and building a story. It’s well written in an easy to follow tone. The book is very to the point, but also has plenty of examples to illustrate the points. There also are exercises at the end of each chapter and a chapter at the end that combines all exercises. One of my favorite parts were the parts about characters and world building and set-up and payoff. The three story act and heroes journey part I personally found less interesting, but I can see the value in it and how it can help plot your book. I would definitely recommended this one to writers who want to know more about plotting, outlining your book and story structure.

4 Stars


You can also read my review on Goodreads, Bookbub and Amazon.

Do you have dreams to write a book? Have you ever read a book about writing/ plotting etc that you found helpful?


2 responses to “Review: Plot Gardening by Chris Fox

    • It really was interesting to get more insight into plotting and the structures of books. After I finished it, I was more aware of the structure in the few books I read after it.

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