The Plot Thickens


The Plot Thickens:
Eight Ways to Bring Fiction to Life

“One of the best-ever books about the craft of writing.”

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St. Martins Press (July 2002, Hardcover) (June 2003, Trade Paperback)
and in the United Kingdom by John Hale Publishers (hardcover) Fall, 2002

A Book Sense 76 Pick

A selection of the Writers Digest Book Club in Hardcover

A selection of the Writers Digest Book Club in Paperback

A Featured Selection of Publishers Weekly Daily

Part of the curriculum in dozens of writing programs

From the literary agent and author of the bestselling The First Five Pages,
comes a groundbreaking new book on plot development

The art of plot development has become synonymous with having a “great idea.” But a great idea is merely an abstraction without characterization, journey, suspense, conflict, and context. Analyzing the elements of classic storytelling, The Plot Thickens enables beginning and advanced writers alike to consider how these elements can combine–in many heretofore unimagined ways–to produce the kind of plot that will make their work transcendent. A veritable fiction-writing workshop, writers will find it impossible to walk away from this invaluable guide without boundless new ideas.

Review and Endorsement Highlights

“THE PLOT THICKENS is one of the best-ever books about the craft of writing. It is a book that can change the world of every writer who embraces Lukeman’s ideas. His classroom on paper should be on every writer’s shelf to be read again and again. The book is a personal gift from a master agent who truly cares not only about the written word, but most of all, about the people who struggle to convey ideas upon the printed page.”

“Lukeman’s advice is practical—and often entails multiple, time-consuming steps—without a hint of the flakiness that creeps into many writing guides. Though Lukeman works with books, he wisely asserts that the observations in this volume are applicable to all types of imaginary writing, from film to poetry. Indeed, it is a worthy addition to any writer’s reference shelf.”
Publishers Weekly

“…a crisply written, nicely detailed examination of the art of storytelling. Beginning writers will find plenty of practical tips and useful advice in its pages”

“Lukeman’s book succeeds because it takes a commonsense approach to plotting, one that centers on characters and a few basic elements such as conflict and suspense. THE PLOT THICKENS is a highly useful book that is written in an accessible style and filled with valuable examples. I recommend this for the aspiring novelist who needs a helpful guide to developing and creating vivid characters.”
The Writer

“For those of us who have ever grappled with plot, THE PLOT THICKENS is a godsend. I never tire of reading Noah Lukeman’s work because his voice is eloquent, insightful, practical, original, and sincere. The man has respect for literature and it shows. There is information in Noah Lukeman’s books I have not read elsewhere. The most veteran author can learn from THE PLOT THICKENS. Beginners will find a gold mine. I wish I could have read this book years ago. THE PLOT THICKENS is not the type of book you want to check out from the library or borrow from a friend. It is the type of book you need to purchase so it can sit on your desk, dog-eared and underlined, worn from years of overuse. For the playwright, the screenwriter, the novelist, or the short-story writer, THE PLOT THICKENS is more than a book on craft, it’s a tool.”

“Conflict – the most difficult concept for new writers to understand. Lukeman does a masterful job of explaining this important aspect of plot development… Written with clarity, Lukeman nver talks down to his reader. His personable writing style elevates THE PLOT THICKENS from a text on writing to a written version of the mentor you always wished you could have.”
–The Midwest Book Review

“THE PLOT THICKENS is wonderful!”
Writers Digest Book Club (Linda Walker, Editor)

“Fantastic book. Gives you lots of insight on how to write a great story. We at couldn’t put it down. It was better than reading a great novel.”

“I can think of countless novels that would have been improved by following the “8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life,” which is full of practical common sense about how to write fiction and answers many of the difficult questions first novelists ask themselves.”
Michael Korda, Author of Queenie, The Fortune, Making the List

“In his book THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, Noah Lukeman, one of the top literary agents in New York, gave writers a great gift. Now, in THE PLOT THICKENS, he shows writers how to build stories in which the plot emerges from fresh, alive, and intense characters. Both beginners and more advanced writers will find many wonderful, thought-provoking concepts and approaches here to help them hone their craft.”
James Frey, Author of How to Write a Damn Good Novel and The Key

“Noah Lukeman keeps laser-like focus on the single most important principle of good writing: creating plot through the characters. THE PLOT THICKENS is a pleasure to read, and filled with useful information.”
John Truby, Truby’s Writers Studio

“Brilliant. The Plot Thickens literally gears a person up to writing big-themed, deep, humorous, and varied fiction. Personable, buoyant, and very wise, The Plot Thickens made me feel wildly buoyed up with that joy that is particular to fiction-making. It pulls off the virtues we want in a writing handbook —succinct discussions of plot and character and tone, amazing lists of qualities to check for our characters, ways to build and keep suspense, ways to understand a character from the inside where people cleave to their own personalities as well as from the outside, where we act and speak. Lukeman’s help with characterization is better than that of other manual-writers because, page for page, he thinks more than other writing teachers, not just about writing books but about people.”
Carol Bly, author of Beyond the Writers’ Workshop

THE PLOT THICKENS is my favorite kind of how-to-write book…Never high-handed or stuffy, the book is easy to read but thought provoking at the same time.…Mr. Lukeman takes you through many ways to increase tension and suspense in your work, as well as how conflict affects the storyline and how you can prolong it to keep the reader entranced.….His comments were very informative and insightful and could be used by all of us when it comes time to edit our novels. ….I highly recommend The Plot Thickens. …Read it slowly. Ponder the questions and the examples.”

“THE PLOT THICKENS is a book that deserves a prominent place on any writer’s bookshelf.”

“The final two chapters deal with issues few are willing or able to cover in such a clear manner. Lukeman tackles the difficult task of trying to pinpoint exactly what qualities an extraordinary book possesses….Lukeman uses his experiences as an agent to create a book that will benefit all types of writers. Film and novel critics will find Lukeman’s book to be an outstanding guide when analyzing story plot…The conversational style makes The Plot Thickens a pleasure to read; the compact size makes it convenient to transport. It is the type of book that every writer should own.”

“Well known literary agent Noah Lukeman’s The Plot Thickens is different. The book is so well written–so tight and polished–that it provides a perfect example of its own principles. Lukeman’s prose is so lucid that it manages to render even complex concepts like “transcendency” clear, and provides practical ways of incorporating character-driven plot and transcendency into your work. It would be a rare writer who didn’t find his or her manuscript improving through application of Lukeman’s extensive questions….Lukeman understands, in a way which only comes from extensive reading and editing, what makes for excellent, not just bestselling, fiction. His literary assistance can clearly make the difference between a good book (he won’t take on anything less) and a work of art. If you aren’t lucky enough to have him for your agent, he offers this book as a kind of “gift.” Treat yourself to his superbly written reference guide….The Plot Thickens is a resource that fiction writers, both beginning and experienced, will return to repeatedly.”
– (and NetAuthor.Org)

“Unlike most of us who read bad writing for a living, Noah has done something about it. The first two chapters, including writing exercises, enable authors to build complex characters from the ground up. New writers should especially benefit from these chapters…If Noah’s book encourages more unique characters, that will be service enough….Chapter 5, Suspense, is one of the best how-to guides on the subject. I took notes; it’s that good. He knows suspense and knows how to create and sustain it….Read this book cover to cover, then put it in the resource section of your personal library. When tempted to lift actors from central casting, or to retread a tired old tale, reach for The Plot Thickens instead and build something good from the ground up.”

“Anyone who loves to write character-driven plots will love this book! …..The Plot Thickens 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life is a book that not only an instruction book, it’s also an ideas book. What I particularly loved about this book was that the examples used came not only from books, but also from well-known movies….Plot is one of the hardest disciplines in the fiction writing field for many writers….The Plot Thickens 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life gives advice how to achieve this in the most natural way possible….An easy to read book that can be read from start to finish, or which can be delved into whenever you’re blocked for an idea on where your plot should go next, The Plot Thickens 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life is a guide that will complement any writer’s reference shelf.”

“Eight step, common sense doctrine beneficial for advanced writers, but best suited for freshman novelists….Lukeman, a literary agent, piles on the wisdom and warmth, leaving writers with both a newfound, viable toolset — and vibrant inspiration.”
–The Boox Review

“Noah Lukeman offers novelists a superb writing tool! THE PLOT THICKENS is THE book to read for anyone who wants to really learn and improve their fiction.”
–National Association of Women Writers
Sheri’ McConnell, MAOM, Founder & President

“Lukeman’s strength lies in his concise, direct treatment of the subject along with his thought-provoking questions that prod the reader to dig deeper into their own stories. He freely passes along the wisdom he’s gained in the industry, and his every word is focused on the goal of creating publishable fiction. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to read this book without walking away with ideas to deepen and to improve your own stories, and this makes THE PLOT THICKENS an excellent investment for the serious writer.”
–Romance Writers of America (Nashville)

“Perhaps my favorite lesson in The Plot Thickens was on transcendency, or the ability of the work to “leave a deep, lasting impression on the audience.” Lukeman lists character multidimensionality, timelessness, and relatability, among others, as aspects of a transcendent work and gives examples of novels (and films) which have risen above space and time to affect audiences for generations. The most interesting ideas come when he discusses the conscious and unconscious motivation behind writing and the emotions that fuel this motivation…..The thing that struck me about Mr. Lukeman’s book is that he has broken down, defined, and given a vocabulary to an intuitive process.”

“Lukeman’s book is being called an innovative and fresh way to help writers jazz up their plotting techniques. Need a good present for your birthday? This is it!”
–Shades of Romance Magazine


August, 2002–Oregon KATU (ABC-TV) AM Northwest

WAMC National Radio “BookShow with Gretchen Gerzina” (November, 2002)


Publishers Weekly (review)
Publishers Weekly (profile of jacket)
Booklist (review)
The Writer (review)
The Writer (excerpt)
The New York Times Book Review (review)
The Washington Post Book World (review)
The Writer (Ask the Expert)
Midwest Book Review
Taconic Syndicated Newspapers
Poets & Writers June 2003
SCWW Quill newsletter
Poets & Writers (July 2003)

Books & Co. (Dayton, OH)
Conference Bookstore (Antioch, OH)
PNWA Writers Conference Bookstore (Seattle, WA)
Borders (LA)
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (San Francisco)
Willamette Writers Conference Bookstore (Portland, OR)
RJ Julia (CT)
Bookstall, Winnetka (Chicago)
MFA Art Institute Reading (Chicago)
South Carolina Writers Conference (October)
IVillage Tues Oct 29 at 8pm
North Carolina Writers Conference Bookstore (November 19)
Barnes & Noble New York, Rock Center, Wed Nov 20 1pm
San Diego Writers Conference February 2003
ONLINE (review) (interview) (giveaway Aug 02)
BookzonePro (interview)
Authorlink (review) (mention)
WriteSuccess e-zine (mention)
WritersStore (profiled in bookstore)
WritersStore (mentioned in e-zine) (mention)
Holtzbrink Academic Marketing (featured title) (mention) (featured book for Writers) (recommended resources) (National Association of Women Writers)
Powell’s Bookstore (featured title)
BellaOnline e-zine (announcement) (interview) (review) (Q&A) (profiled) (November)
WriteDirections e-zine (November)
Kansas Writers Association
Shades of Romance Magazine
PW Daily (November 21, 2002)
RestStop Writers Newsletter
Inscriptions Magazine (review)
Inscriptions Magazine (interview)
Rainy Day Corner Publishing newsletter (announcement) (profiled) (profiled)
Compulsive Reader (interview) (review) (interview) (giveaway Aug 02)
BookzonePro (interview)
Authorlink (review) (mention)
WriteSuccess e-zine (mention)
WritersStore (profiled in bookstore)
WritersStore (mentioned in e-zine) (mention)
Holtzbrink Academic Marketing (featured title) (mention) (featured book for Writers) (recommended resources) (National Association of Women Writers)
Powell’s Bookstore (featured title)
BellaOnline e-zine (announcement) (interview) (review) (Q&A) (profiled) (November)
WriteDirections e-zine (November)
Kansas Writers Association
Shades of Romance Magazine
PW Daily (November 21, 2002)
RestStop Writers Newsletter
Inscriptions Magazine (review)
Inscriptions Magazine (interview)
Rainy Day Corner Publishing newsletter (announcement) (profiled) (profiled)
Compulsive Reader (interview)
Selection of Writers Digest Book Club (November, 2002)



Noah Lukeman’s other titles:

cover           How to Write a Great Query Letter          A Dash of Style        M2 BIG

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