So, I’ve started using the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing software and I’m really having fun with it so far.
Getting It All Set Up
After downloading the software, I went through the quick process of installing it. It was really easy, quick, and self-explanatory so I won’t go into how to do it here. Then, I clicked on the desktop icon for the program, entered my name as the author, and found myself on the main template page of the program.
I clicked on the How To Use This Program button at the top and read through the instructions. It’s nice because the program gives you a quick overview of the Marshall Plan system and how things work, but it only takes a few minutes to read through. This is one of those learn-by-doing programs (with lots of help along the way, of course) and I like that. It would also be a good quick refresher for people who are familiar with the Marshall Plan from the books. So, I’m ready to jump in and get started. Fun!
Do What You Want To Do
The instructions let you know that you can jump in where ever you want to in the creative process according to your own inspiration for that writing session. However, they also give you suggestions for walking through the process step-by-step if you prefer that. Since I’m new to the program and this system of writing, I’m going to go through each step as Marshall recommends. To do this, I just click on each of the tabs positioned across the top of the page.
Defining the Initial Crisis
Tab 1: First, you click on the Story Idea tab. Here, you read a bit about the importance of the initial crisis and how it lays the foundation for your whole novel. You then define the gender and age of your lead character. Then, you click the next subtab…
Deciding On the Story Goal
As a result of the crisis, your Lead character decides on their story goal. This is what she will be working to achieve throughout the novel although she won’t succeed until the end.
Next, based on the initial crisis and the goal the Lead sets in response, you devise what Marshall calls “the Suppose.” It’s phrased in this way: “Suppose this big crisis happened to my Lead and in response, she decides that she must achieve this goal.” The Suppose defines this crisis that will drive your story forward and the software goes over the key criteria it must meet to make your story truly compelling. There are lots of good tips here. For example, Marshall emphasizes how important it is that this Suppose actually intrigues you as the writer so you want to write about it and so your writing will reflect that enthusiasm.
So, I defined the sex and age of my lead and I’ve got an intriguing crisis, goal, and Suppose drafted. I’m ready to move on to the next Tab: Working with Sections and Genre/Length.
But First… Give My Novel a Title
To save my novel file, the program requires me to enter a working title in the Title tab section, so that’s what I did. I tested it out and I can change the title later if I like by just entering another title in this tab.
Next up is learning about the building block of my novel: what Marshall calls sections and deciding on my genre and target word length. I’ll do that in my next post. See you then!
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