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Old 03-16-2009, 05:52 AM   #1
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The Lester Dent Pulp Fiction Master Plot

For those who might have missed it in an earlier thread, provided below is a link to Lester Dent's Pulp Fiction Master Plot.

Dent was the originator of the Doc Savage series of books, a master of pulp fiction and real-life adventurer. His writing advice is specifically tailored to the pulp-era markets, but is surprisingly effective even today. So if you're struggling to put down that next paragraph, can't decide on where your story is heading, or are just in the mood to learn from one of the masters, may I recommend a quick read of the Master Plot.

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Old 03-16-2009, 01:12 PM   #2
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:53 PM   #3
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That was an interesting read. If anything it'd qualify as How To Write a CSI script as well.

Pick any TV show or commercial movie, scrub to about three-quarters the way through.. you'll hit the end of Lester Dent's ACT III climax. Never fails!
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Old 03-18-2009, 11:26 AM   #4
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:34 PM   #5
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I remember that read well. I use quite a few of his tips, it can make the material as much fun to write as to read!
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:11 PM   #6
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Dent helped me many years ago when I was on a writing course. We had the traditional rising-arc, 3-act, peak of action followed by denoument formula as the standard, but I always felt like there was something missing. A dullness to the 2nd act that I couldn't put my finger on. At the time I was reading a lot of pulp detective stories from the Black Mask era and trying badly to imitate them. Still, my stories lacked something in the second act. Then I discovered Dent.

The 4 act (or even the 9-act which is a more Screenplay centric formula) forces life into the traditional 2nd act by splitting it in two. You know that mid-way through the 2nd act there's going to be a turnaround, which then leads you in another direction. Your 2nd-act can't sag when you write this way (whatever you may write). If you're a fan of Jim Butcher you can see this formula, plus the ideas of Dwight V Swain in his writing. It hits the Dent beats perfectly.
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