Posts Tagged ‘plotting a novel’
Before I really begin my blog series on using the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing software, I thought I would give you an overview of what the Marshall Plan is about so you’ll know what I’m talking about as I use this system to develop my novel idea.
There are a lot of writers who have read the Marshall Plan for Novel Writing books by Evan Marshall and have found this system really helpful in developing a compelling roadmap for their novels.
However, if you’re unfamiliar with the system, read on.
Gives You Everything You Need to Craft a Compelling Novel With Best-Seller Potential
The Marshall Plan for writing novels guides you to develop a powerful novel idea based on a specific system for developing characters and plot. The plot is driven by an initial crisis that motivates the Lead character to focus on achieving an important specific goal throughout your novel. Marshall emphasizes that this must be a compelling and formidable problem that will keep the reader engaged throughout the story.
The Basic Building Block to Writing a Page-Turner
The basic unit of plotting for the Marshall Plan is what he calls the section. Each section generally consists of the point-of-view character working to achieve a short-term goal, often being challenged by another character, and then failing to achieve the short-term goal. Alternately, the character may succeed at the end of the section but discover an even bigger problem in the process. This system of plotting builds tension and suspense, compelling the reader to want to read just one more chapter to see what happens.
This is true for all characters but the one Marshall calls the Opposition Character, also known as the antagonist of the story.
The Bad Guy Always Succeeds… Until the End
This is one of the insights of the Marshall Plan system that I found very helpful. At the end of the sections which feature the Opposition as the POV character, the Opposition always achieves his short-term goal. This serves to increase the stakes and the challenge to the Lead character, thus increasing the tension and suspense of the story.
During the end section of the novel, the Lead character faces the Opposition and endures his Worst Failure. He then experiences a Point of Hopelessness where he feels he will never succeed. At this point, he has an all-important insight, and as a result implements his final Saving Act which leads to his ultimate success. Of course, at this point the Opposition fails. This suspense-building structure provides readers with a satisfying payoff for the Lead’s repeated failure throughout the novel and leaves them feeling good about your novel.
That’s What Makes It So Good
This is what makes Marshall’s structure so good at helping novelists create such compelling page-turners. Throughout the novel, the Lead goes through a series of attempts to achieve his goal and is continually thwarted and challenged further as the novel proceeds.
Add to that the multiple point of view characters and subplots that the system requires and the reader is left on the edge of their seat, anxious to know what happens next and how the Lead is ever going to succeed at this seemingly impossible task.
The System Tells You Just What To Do To Keep Them On the Edge of Their Seat
In order to achieve this tight, compelling structure, Marshall gives you step-by-step instructions on how to write your novel. His system lays out specific guidelines to follow when it comes to the following:
- key details and goals for the Lead and the other characters
- the number of sections to have
- how many POV characters to use
- how to weave subplots together
- where and how to introduce powerful suspense-building surprises into your plot
- the specific order of sections to begin and end your novel
All of these guidelines are carefully designed to help you hook the reader and keep them engaged until the very last word.
Here’s Where the Software Comes In Handy
It’s a great system, but that’s a lot of stuff to keep track of. That’s why users of the Marshall Plan asked Evan Marshall to develop a software program to help them implement the Marshall Plan system. And that’s just what he did.
I’m going to be giving the software a test-drive over the next few weeks with my own novel idea and I’ll let you know how it goes right here. Fun!
Lots of Great Guidance For the Whole Process
Beyond character-development and plotting, Marshall gives you lots of specific guidelines to help you with writing, editing, and sending your manuscript out to publishers and agents as well. He covers the whole process with specific, practical guidance at each step.
The Big Advantage: Never Get Lost In the Woods Again
Have you ever found yourself deep in the middle of a novel wondering what in the world are you supposed to do now? Have you ever written yourself into a dead end and had to toss big chunks of writing… a lot of it that you loved? Well, if you follow the Marshall Plan, that just won’t happen. Before you even begin the actual writing, you’ve got it all worked out.
This really helps when it comes to overcoming writer’s block as well… you know just what you’ll write as you sit down to work on your novel each day.
But What About Going With the Flow?
Some writers may hesitate to follow guidelines that seem so structured. They have the idea that they prefer to sit down in front of a blank page each day and see what happens. Well, here’s what I think: if they’ve found their own way to finish a novel that they feel good about, that’s truly a great accomplishment and I’m happy for them.
But Then Again…
However, if you haven’t found a way to really finish your novel and feel good about it once it’s done, I encourage you to give the Marshall Plan a try. See how it works for you. Don’t judge it until you try it yourself and see what happens. I think you’ll find it to be an empowering system that results in a well-crafted, compelling novel… one that is fun to write and just what publishers are looking for.
It’s Worth a Try, Don’t You Think?
If you do give it a try, a few months from now, you could have a finished manuscript ready to send out. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
On To the Software… Fun!
Well, that gives you an overview of the Marshall Plan and how I feel about it. I’m excited to be starting this process of developing my novel idea with the Marshall Plan software and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.
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