Rating: 1 star
I’ve read one other book by Derek Murphy, under the name D.S. Murphy, and it was a fiction book. I thought it was cliche and kind of awful, but in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. So I was intrigued to read a book where this kind-of bad author writes a self-help plotting guide for other authors. Unfortunately, it was bad.
Murphy is a proponent of the idea that the more cookie-cutter and predictable a plot is, the more generic a main character and conflict, the more likely a book is to sell (and sellability is the main goal in writing and publishing). Maybe he’s right, I don’t know, but it’s a very cynical way to view literature in my opinion. He takes this idea of plotting and tries, somehow, to pass it off as something unique, something that he himself discovered on his many journeys writing generic YA in castles around the world.
The titular “Plot Dot” eight-step plotting structure that Murphy claims to have come up with is, in my opinion, an amalgamation of two different plot structures already in common use (even going so far as naming the different sections of the structure exactly as they’re named in the existing systems). Namely, the hero’s journey and the 7-point story structure. He literally just took the 7-point structure and added a hero’s journey “ordinary world” beginning. It doesn’t deviate in any way from traditional structures, and what it does expand on in the book is so bare-minimum that he literally suggests you watch his Youtube videos to understand them better. His points aren’t incorrect, he just behaves as if he’s the first to say them when he undoubtedly isn’t.
His actual advice here has nothing to do with what events unfold and when, but rather that the individual scenes need a particular colorful talisman to focus the sequence; the “dot” of color, if you will. That’s fine advice, but it gets vague and repetitive pretty quick, especially as it somehow implies that every single scene in the book requires a macguffin just to be entertaining or important to the story.
Overall, this failed to impress upon me any information a quick Google search of “plot structure” didn’t already give me. The haughtiness of Murphy’s claims as this goes on, the lack of substance, and the complete unoriginality made this a boring, uneducational read that probably wouldn’t benefit even a beginner in the world of writing fiction.
If you want real, constructive advice on how to effectively plot, watch Ellen Brock’s series on plotting on Youtube. It’s what helped me the most with my own outline and I found it extremely thorough and informative.
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