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The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master Paperback – October 15, 2011
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Eleanor Brown author of the New York Times bestseller The Weird Sisters
"I don't work from an outline initially, but once the story is written, I'll go back and make a rough outline of what I have, just to make sure the order of the scenes makes sense. It's a technique I learned from the plot whisper Martha Alderson."
Jen Doktorski author How My Summer Went Up in Flames and The Summer After You and Me
"Folks, if you have the chance to learn from Martha Alderson, Plot Whisperer through her books or at a conference do not pass it up! Brilliant!" Danielle M. Smith Literary Agent at Red Fox Literary
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Reviewed by C. J. Singh (Berkeley, CA)
THE PLOT WHISPERER begins by showing two diagrams: "The Plot Planner" diagrams the entire process of plotting, and "The Scene Tracker Template" diagrams the seven essential elements that constitute effective scenes. Although Figure 1 displays the Plot Planner, Alderson favors writing the scenes first approach. These two diagrams also appeared in the author's "BlockBuster Plots: Pure and Simple," published in 2004. (Years ago, I attended one of her brief workshops in San Francisco, where I bought two of her workshop DVDs. Both DVDs are excellent.)
The second chapter, "The Universal Story," is a simplified version of Joseph Campbell's classic "The Hero With a Thousand Faces." ("The Plot Whisperer" lacks acknowledgements of earlier fiction-craft books.)
In later chapters, the plot planning process is exampled by analyses of three widely read novels: William Golding's "Lord of the Flies", Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mocking Bird," and John Steinbeck's "East of Eden." The scene tracking process is exampled by analyses of the opening three scenes of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."
New to this edition is "The Thematic Significance Bubble Template, " introduced as follows. "The more you home in on the deeper meaning of your story and the big problem that needs to be solved in your protagonist's life, the more focused the scenes will be and the richer their presentation. Many writers scoot as far away as possible from the thematic significance of their stories. I believe, instead, that you should dive right in" (page 60). This template is illustrated by an analysis of John Steinbeck's "East of Eden," coming up with the theme: "The choices one makes, not one's blood, determine one's destiny.Read more ›
Many writers wrongly assume they should automatically know how to craft a plot if they are talented. A writer might have a great talent for language and voice, but plot is something you have to learn, just like any other skill in any other occupation. Martha Alderson deconstructs plot in such a way that you can fully grasp what you need to know. After working with the plot planner and the scene tracker I found myself instinctively making the right choices when I returned to my story. Now I find I don't get as confused and bogged down, and that makes for a happy writing experience!
Every few pages, the author stops to remind you that everyone and every story are all cosmically connected by the "Universal Story" (literally). In order to buy into this, I feel like I need to check my horoscope religiously, or think that the psychic hotline is a great way to make life decisions. Alas, I do neither, and I find the ad-nauseum couching of the content in this manner to be off-putting and cluttered.
The author further spends an inordinate amount of time pigeonholing writers into "left brain" and "right brain" writers. This theme too clutters up the content every 4-5 pages. I haven't checked the author's credentials, but I'm fairly sure I wouldn't find a degree in neuroscience. Even if I did, I bought a book about plot. If the point is that different people have different strengths, it can be made ONCE without attempting repeatedly to legitimize it by some vague and superficial interpretation of an unrelated subject.
Several other reviewers have commented glowingly on the tools this book offers: the "plot planner" (a line graph) and the "thematic significance bubble" (a glorified mind map) being two of them. While these may be interesting points of view, they are hardly the earth shakers other reviewers make them out to be.
There is undoubtedly some good material in here (hence the second star), but wading through the junk is a real effort. I surrendered at the 4th chapter.
I will not be purchasing from this author again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My wife bought this book for me as a gift in support of my writing aspirations. For me it is a lifelong dream that is just now becoming realistic to me. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Patrick Norris
I've written dozens of first drafts that usually get stifled in the mid point of the story. I've written a first draft of over 120,000 words that floundered in the middle and never... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tommy
This is the book that goes with the workbook. Between the online course and these two books, I have confidence that... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tiffany, Avid Book Devourer
At first I thought that there was little about plot that I hadn't read before. But then the author described right-brain and left-brain writing, the emotional journey of the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by K Grubb
Ughhhhhh... Got the workbook and the book and gave it away almost immediately.Published 6 months ago by Mackie
Just finished writing my 2nd book, and I decided to study the craft of writing further to move into fiction. Thus I picked up this book. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Anonymous