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The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing 1st Edition

4 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1582970622
ISBN-10: 1582970629
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

By following this 16-step program, any writer can fulfill the dream of completing a novel that is ready to submit to agents and editors. No matter what type of novel the reader wants to write -- western to romance to literary to fantasy -- this program will work. It breaks down the novel-writing process into small, manageable tasks that even the most inexperienced writers can achieve. Readers will learn how to find a hook, create a conflict, develop a protagonist and set her into motion.

Formerly an editor and now a successful literary agent, Marshall knows the marketplace. His expertise illuminates every subject, from insightful advice about choosing the right story to strategies for building that story with an eye toward publication. He includes plenty of diagrams, charts and section sheets to make following the program easier, and there's even a section with proven advice and information for writing effective query letters and submitting manuscripts for publication. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

In my work as a literary agent and in my writing seminars, I have used this program to help hundreds of writers achieve success. Beginning writers bursting with ideas but unsure how to turn them into novels have found guidance in this methodical, "left-brain" process. Published writers who always wrote "instinctively," discovering their novels as they went along, have used this method to diagnose and repair ailing manuscripts. In all cases, these writers have been rewarded with compliments from editors on the writers' mastery of their craft -- and with publication. I hope The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing does that for you. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 1 edition (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582970629
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582970622
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Erik1988 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
1) At work I'm constantly encountering situations where templates/spreadsheets made by someone else save me tons of time. At the most, all I need to do are minor revisions on the template to meet my specific business need. This book is exactly like that. This is a template, a formula, that lays out one (1) suggestion on how to put a novel together.

2) This is not a book about how to write great dialogue or develope charasmatic characters(even though there are tips on how to get some of this accomplished). That is what all the other books on the market are for. This book is a blueprint, the scene by scene layout of your novel's plot structure. He gets as detailed as stating the order in which the first 15 scenes (he calls them sections) need to occur and what characters need to appear in those scenes and what in general terms need to happen.

3) This is the first book I've read so far that talks about multiple subplots and how to handle them. Thank you Mr. Marshall!

4) Normally when I take notes on a book, I find that only 10% of the book is the core of what the author is trying to teach. The other 90% are examples to support the 10%. Examples to win you over to the author's viewpoint/opinion or examples to help the reader understand the point and see a demonstration of that example. This book is just the opposite. Mr. Marshall is 90% core material and very little examples. He explains his points clear enough that if you've ever read other books on the craft of writing, then your mind grasps the concept and has already filled in the example.

Yes, when you get to this level of granularity it both shows that novel writing isn't glamours and full of spontaneous creativity.
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Format: Paperback
It's not too hard to dismiss this book out of hand as being too arbitrary or deal-a-mealy. I was tempted to myself, but upon reflection I saw that while it's not perfect, it presents several advantages to going it alone.

While it's certainly possible to produce a formulaic, cookie-cutter book by following Marshall's guidelines, it's not inevitable. On the other hand, if you're too anal in your efforts of following "the plan," odds are you'd have been too anal to produce a saleable manuscript without it, as well. While it may not result in providing you with a break-out novel, the plan isn't intended to provide that result. Better to break in first, then you'll have somewhere to break out of.

As with most things, the principles behind the plan are its soundest points. I think there's room for some leeway in the execution of Marshall's points. Your decision may be different from mine, but I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt before I begin flailing around in the dark without a guide.

At first glance, though, parts of the plan seem to make no sense. For instance, in sections told from the (for lack of a more nuanced word) villain's p.o.v., Marshall says the villain never experiences failure. This doesn't mean, however, that the villain can never face a setback, but whatever setback he or she faces is resolved and turned back against the hero before the section is concluded.
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Format: Hardcover
If you buy this book and follow it like a bible, will you sell your novel? You might, you might not. The truth of the matter is, there's no one way to do it. Most writers don't even do it the same way from book to book. But, if you have no idea how or where to begin, Marshall's explanation of how scenes play off of one another and how point of view and subplots keep things moving along is a good place to start. His advice on character development is lame. But if you want to be a good writer, first thing you have to do is learn people. You won't get that from any book. So read this book and take what you can from it. Then read every other book you possibly can and meet as many people as you possibly can and put yourself in as many new situations as you possibly can.
Just a note: the best thing I ever did for my writing was to think in scenes. Just write a very brief summary of a scene on a notecard. Think of some scene you know that you want in your book. Then do some more. Then a few more. Don't worry about what goes where. When you get done, put them in order. You'll find a story developing slowing. Then you can put scenes in to fill in the gaps. Once you wind up with a stack of 40 or 50 cards that you like, you're on your way to a book that you like. And the best part about this method is your story is easy to change. Pull out the cards you don't like and rewrite them or toss them or move them. I use the back to make notes that come to me about the character or the tone or whatever while I'm reading the cards. It works for me. Give it a shot.
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