Posts Tagged ‘James Scott Bell’

More than just a bestselling author, James Scott Bell is an excellent writing teacher. He’s penned the infamous (if you’re a writer) bestselling book Plot and Structure.


I had the opportunity to catch James at the 10th annual ThrillerFest this year. His class was amazing. I took so many notes this year because the authors were just pouring out nuggets of writing gold. Reviewing my notebook showed I took three pages of notes for James’ 50 minute class.

James’ writing help is all over the internet. Just Google his name and you’ll find him on a myriad of writing/coaching sites. He’s also an electric speaker. A former trial lawyer, he’s in command of the room and does an unbelievable job of keeping everyone focused on the writing tips he’s teaching.


He talked about the three death types that work in thrillers:
Psychological – someone can be defeated mentally
Professional – someone’s career can be shattered
Physical – someone can be maimed or killed

As your hero and villain battle, they’ll typically be fighting over one of these. But not necessarily all three.

He talked about the “middle”. aka the “muddle”. This could/should be the “mirror moment”. The spot in the book where your hero figuratively (and sometimes literally) looks in the mirror and realizes they’ve changed and there’s no going back. It’s the big transformational moment. How will they, or will they change? And if not, what will happen to them?

James made some humorous references from movies where he moved the DVR right to the very middle of the movie and in some cases they actually had the hero look in the mirror for that moment! But the takeaway is that it’s a very common and useful device if done properly.

To add spice to the mix, make sure your main character has a moral flaw. Don’t make them always perfect. Perfect is not real and we can’t relate to someone unbelievable.

I can’t relay all that I’ve learned from James. A great deal of it was just making mental connections in my own writing head. But search for his name on the Internet. You’ll find he’s an amazing resource for writing help. (oh, and pick up one of his books. he’s an excellent writer – BTW)

ThrillerFest is the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers. A community with over 3,000 members in 28 countries and nearly 3 billion books in print!


This was my third year attending the conference and I couldn’t be any happier. For the second year in a row I attended the Master CraftFest class which is an 8 hour, intensive course examining your work with an ultra successful author in a class of only 10. And let me tell you, you learn a great deal from this one day event.

But that’s not all.

That was just Tuesday of last week. The next day and a half you have hours of tracks and classes by a variety of instructors. And let me tell you, there not just any authors giving instruction. They’re Best Selling authors giving you the goods on what they’ve learned over time.

Steve Berry, Peter James, Gayle Lynds, David Morrell, Andrew Gross, James Scott Bell….geez. The list goes on and on. To see a list of all authors, go to their website: ThrillerFest.

And that’s not all.

The second half of Thursday gets you the opportunity to pitch to many, many agents looking for authors. Even if an agent is not interested, most of the time you will learn something new about your book, your story and how to tell it/sell it to others. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned just trying to pitch my work to an agent.

But….there’s more.

Then ThrillerFest starts. It’s two days of panels and interviews, coupling some of the greatest Thriller authors we have on this planet.


It is like drinking from a fire hydrant of knowledge. Half the time I’m scratching down notes from the instructor/author and the other half I’m scratching notes to address all the new ideas they’ve helped me spawn in a session.

If I could only go to one conference, ever, I would chose ThrillerFest.

BTW, I volunteered this year to help the organization. If you attended ThrillerFest 2015 – and another BTW, it was their 10th year, I probably handed you your swag bag full of books, water bottles and a hat.

Come empty handed because you’ll be buying books galore to have your favorite authors sign them.

If you’re into Thrillers, this is the BEST place to go.

I’ll be posting more on the individual authors and experiences I had this year. Too much to cover in one short post.

See ya soon,