How to Write Best-Selling Fiction

Watch How to Write Best-Selling Fiction

  • 2019
  • 1 Season

How to Write Best-Selling Fiction, from The Great Courses Signature Collection, is a comprehensive and engaging course on the art of writing fiction that will surely be of immense benefit to both new and seasoned writers. The course is presented by James Scott Bell, an award-winning author and popular writing instructor with over twenty books to his name.

The course consists of twenty-four lectures, each lasting around thirty minutes, which cover a wide range of topics related to writing fiction. From the basics of creating characters that readers care about, to developing memorable settings, to crafting compelling plots, Bell covers all the essential aspects of writing a novel or short story that will keep readers engaged and invested in the story.

The lectures are structured in a logical and easy-to-follow manner, with Bell presenting his ideas in a clear and concise manner, always backed up by examples from his own writing or that of other successful authors. He provides practical tips and exercises to help writers put the concepts he discusses into practice, and there are also interviews with industry professionals such as literary agents and book editors, who offer useful insights into what publishers are looking for in a successful manuscript.

Throughout the course, Bell emphasizes the importance of understanding the needs and expectations of readers. He encourages writers to think of their work as a conversation with their audience, and to focus on providing them with an enjoyable and fulfilling reading experience. He also stresses the importance of consistent practice and hard work, reminding his students that writing is a craft that takes time and effort to master.

One of the most valuable aspects of the course is Bell's approach to outlining and planning a novel. He advocates for a detailed and comprehensive approach to outlining that involves breaking down the plot into specific beats and character arcs. This method can help writers stay focused and avoid getting bogged down in the details of the story as they write.

Throughout the course, Bell also shares personal anecdotes and insights from his own writing journey, which help to bring the material to life and keep students engaged. He is a charismatic and engaging presenter, with an easy-to-follow style that makes the material accessible to a wide range of learners.

Although the course is focused primarily on writing fiction, Bell's insights and advice could be applied to a wide range of writing genres and formats. Whether writing a bestselling summer beach read or a literary masterpiece, the principles outlined in this course will be of immense value to writers of all stripes.

Overall, How to Write Best-Selling Fiction is an excellent and comprehensive course that covers all the essential elements of writing an engaging and successful novel or short story. James Scott Bell is an engaging and knowledgeable teacher, and his practical advice and exercises will be of immense value to aspiring writers looking to develop their craft. Highly recommended.

How to Write Best-Selling Fiction is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on March 29, 2019.

Filter by Source

Do you have Hulu?
What are you waiting for?
Nice! Browse Hulu with Yidio.
Ad Info - This show may not be available on Hulu
Conquering the Mental Game of Writing
24. Conquering the Mental Game of Writing
March 29, 2019
Look at the most common reasons for writer's block and get tips for how to change your mental state when you feel blocked. Discover how to find inspiration in unusual places. Finally, Mr. Bell provides advice for dealing with rejection, which all writers face on occasion. Learn how to set your expectations and rejection won't defeat you.
Marketing Your Work
23. Marketing Your Work
March 29, 2019
Even if you have an agent, you're still responsible for some aspects of marketing. Mr. Bell introduces you to the most important marketing tools. Get tips on selecting a marketable title, creating taglines, finding customers, using social media, building a website, using emails and newsletters, and knowing which self-publishing tools are worth the investment.
The Self-Publishing Option
22. The Self-Publishing Option
March 29, 2019
Is self-publishing a viable option? Mr. Bell spends an entire lesson breaking down the pros and cons of the self-publishing alternative. Gain a plethora of tips of how to find success when self-publishing and learn how to sort through the details like covers, formatting, picking a platform, marketing, and how to price your book.
Getting Published
21. Getting Published
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell unpacks the most important parts of a book proposal that you would send to an agent or a publisher (query, synopsis, and sample chapters) by defining each and breaking down what you should and shouldn't do. He also gives invaluable advice on what to look for in an agent, how to negotiate a contract, the importance of copyrights, and the most important component: getting paid.
Blunders and Baloney
20. Blunders and Baloney
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell provides an overview of the most common blunders that could knock you out of the running for publication before you even get started, including awkward flashbacks and fluffy dialogue. Using examples from best-selling writers including Sarah Pekkanen, Mark Twain, and Toni Morrison, he re-evaluates some of the most common writing advice, busting common misconceptions and myths.
Revising Your Novel
19. Revising Your Novel
March 29, 2019
Get helpful tips for a revision schedule, learn why you need to take a cool-off period before taking a first pass, gain tricks for helping you re-read with fresh eyes, and use shortcuts for marking places you need to come back to so you can read straight through. Mr. Bell also provides excellent advice about using outside readers, both professionals and beta readers.
First Pages That Grab the Reader
18. First Pages That Grab the Reader
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell introduces you to the different kinds of beginnings and investigates the benefits of using a prologue. With examples from Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Ken Kesey, John Gilstrap, Mickey Spillane, David Morrell, and others, you'll learn how to start your scenes with a bang, raise big questions, and then switch things up in the next scene so readers are on the edge of their seats.
Deepening the Reader's Emotional Experience
17. Deepening the Reader's Emotional Experience
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell shows you how to map the hot spots so you don't get bogged down writing it. He unpacks the power of authors who have mastered delivering an emotional punch, such as John Steinbeck, John Harvey, and Raymond Chandler. He also introduces an exercise that helps you create strong yet concise emotional moments, and examines the power of metaphors to deepen emotional connection.
Subplots and Parallel Plots
16. Subplots and Parallel Plots
March 29, 2019
Understand how weaving in smaller conflicts and challenges (subplots and parallel plots) is a great way to expand a story's range. See how authors successfully integrate subplots into their main story lines. Mr. Bell introduces a formula for determining how many subplots your book should have and a simple grid you can use to manage multiple plots.
Make a Scene
15. Make a Scene
March 29, 2019
See how Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Michael Connelly use an emotional beat (emotion, analysis, and decision) to build conflict and tension in a scene and keep it going. Dissect the elements to create and use a successful hook and how to end each chapter on a prompt that will make the reader want to keep reading.
Voice and Style
14. Voice and Style
March 29, 2019
Through examples from Janet Evanovich, Elmore Leonard, Douglas Adams, Tom Robbins, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, and others, gain the knowledge to master your voice by getting into your character. Then, delve into the rudimentary lessons of a good writer: showing versus telling, avoiding narrative summaries, writing great descriptions, and using telling details.
Tools for Talk
13. Tools for Talk
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell challenges you with exercises like determining the opposite of what a reader would assume a response should be, curving the language, and assigning roles to your characters to better form relationships, conflict, and realistic conversations. Also, gain tips for invoking silence, such as white space and inner monologues, and dive into the nuts and bolts of grammar in dialogue.
The Essentials of Dazzling Dialogue
12. The Essentials of Dazzling Dialogue
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell introduces the five functions of dialogue and breaks down the importance of vocabulary, syntax, and specifics like regionalism to help build the character. Examine examples from Margaret Mitchell, John Howard Lawson, Charles Webb, and others. Explore the importance of subtext, or what is underneath the words, and how it can suggest secrets, fears, memories, yearnings, or hopes.
Point of View
11. Point of View
March 29, 2019
Dive into the concepts of point of view including: first person, omniscient, second person, and third person (limited and open). Then study how Henry Fielding, Charles Dickens, Mario Puzo, James Clavell, J. D. Salinger, Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John D. MacDonald, Suzanne Collins, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, Herman Melville, and others use point of view successfully.
Bringing Characters to Life
10. Bringing Characters to Life
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell reveals two ways to bring your characters to life, along with a myriad of techniques you can put into practice, including a timeline, a voice journal, a simple relationship grid, and the areas you should plan to research. Plus, learn how minor details such as patterns of speech, dress, physical appearance, mannerisms, tics, eccentricities, and even names can have a major impact.
Jump-off-the-Page Characters
9. Jump-off-the-Page Characters
March 29, 2019
Learn how to use unpredictability so your readers don't get bored with cliche characters or trite traits, and see how to develop flaws and baggage to make your characters relatable and human. Plus, get hints about building secondary characters, villains, and what it takes to keep a character interesting through an ongoing series.
Act III and Resolution
8. Act III and Resolution
March 29, 2019
Mickey Spillane noted, The first chapter sells the book. The last chapter sells the next book. Mr. Bell has already provided the tools to get your reader hooked with the first chapter, and potentially the first line! Now, he provides the five strategies that will help you end your book in a way that gets your reader craving your next title.
Act II: The Arena of Conflict
7. Act II: The Arena of Conflict
March 29, 2019
An arena of conflict" is where your lead realizes he or she needs to overcome a challenge. Mr. Bell introduces you to the concept of a mirror moment and provides examples of authors who have demonstrated this technique, such as Margaret Mitchell, Suzanne Collins, Mario Puzo, Harper Lee, Thomas Harris, and Dashiell Hammett.
Act I: The Disturbance
6. Act I: The Disturbance
March 29, 2019
See how James M. Cain, Harlan Coben, Anne Lamott, Ken Follett, James Clavell, and Dean Koontz often use a jolt or disturbance to hook a reader in, and how that often contributes to the book becoming a best seller. Look at other elements you'll need to include in the first act that will build up the character bonding and tension, which will keep readers riveted.
Structuring Your Novel
5. Structuring Your Novel
March 29, 2019
Dive into the writing styles of pantsers versus plotters and get a better understanding of whether you want to aim for a plot-driven or a character-driven story. And using the writings of John Grisham, Ernest Hemingway, Lee Child, and others, evaluate the traditional mythical structure of a three-act story.
The LOCK System: A Foundation for Your Novel
4. The LOCK System: A Foundation for Your Novel
March 29, 2019
Using a proprietary system of his own invention, Mr. Bell introduces you to the foundational principles of a successful novel: LOCK (Lead, Objective, Confrontation, Knockout). He demonstrates how famous authors such as Stephen King, David Baldacci, and others utilize these fundamental elements. Plus, review the five types of endings and discover the pros and cons of each.
Developing Ideas
3. Developing Ideas
March 29, 2019
Jump-start your creativity with a selection of fun exercises, including What-If Moments and The First-Line Game. Mr. Bell cites best-selling authors such as Alice Sebold and Mickey Spillane to demonstrate the importance of creating unique elements: a twist, a character, a setting, a relationship. Find out how to create the ever-important elevator pitch.
Anatomy of a Best Seller
2. Anatomy of a Best Seller
March 29, 2019
Looking at examples from writers including John Grisham, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, J. D. Salinger, Suzanne Collins, Thomas Harris, and more, Mr. Bell analyzes first what makes a novel, and then, what makes a novel successful. He also provides his own insights by exploring the role luck plays in creating a best seller.
Tell Me a Story
1. Tell Me a Story
March 29, 2019
Mr. Bell introduces you to the seven critical success factors of fiction and shows you how best-selling writers put them into practice. He explores literary genres through the success of best sellers written by authors such as Harper Lee and Gillian Flynn. He then outlines the 10 characteristics a serious writer must possess. #Literature & Learning
Where to Watch How to Write Best-Selling Fiction
How to Write Best-Selling Fiction is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch How to Write Best-Selling Fiction on demand at Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.
  • Premiere Date
    March 29, 2019