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The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Paperback – Apr 1 2001

3.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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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: 15.2 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #330,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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 the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

"You now have at your disposal the means of finishing not just one novel but many. The Marshall Plan is not the only way to write a novel, but this way works every time. Even if, as you advance in your writing career, you try new methods and new techniques, maybe judiciously break a few rules, this system will always be here to fall back on as a proven way to get those books finished." -- Evan Marshall

Never before has the complex craft of novel writing been explained in such clear, practical terms. Evan Marshall draws on his years of experience as a literary agent, editor and published novelist to perfect this methodical, effective approach to planning, plotting, writing -- and most importantly -- finishing a truly great novel.

In 16 basic steps, you'll learn to view novel writing in a new way. Rather than attempting to dive straight into writing, haphazardly trying to connect plot, characterization and other narrative elements as you go, you'll realize that successful novel writing is actually a linear, calculated process anyone can follow.

This plan works because it shows you how to map out your entire novel -- characters, subplots, conflicts and all -- before you write one chapter. Following The Marshall Plan you will:

-- Lay the groundwork for a solid novel by targeting a genre for your story idea and developing your narrative and characters around the unique conventions of your chosen genre

-- Use basic guidelines and "section sheets" to determine an ideal story length and plot your novel's events, including main and subordinate story lines, surprising twists and dramatic conclusions

-- Confidently write the novel you've plotted as you master viewpoint writing and discover techniques for linking your novel's sections with seamless "connectors"

-- Create a compelling, readable pace by using the five fiction modes -- action, summary, dialogue, thoughts/feelings and background

-- Bulletproof your story and perfect your language with the Novelist's Manual for Self-Editing, a guide for editing and revising your completed manuscript

-- Successfully market your novel following Evan Marshall's expert instruction for creating a powerful synopsis, targeting the right agents and editors, and getting your work the full attention it deserves. He even includes a sample synopsis that actually led to a sale.

Throughout this hands-on guide, Marshall includes templates you can copy, easy-to-follow charts and end-of-chapter recaps that reinforce important points and help you stay focused.

More than a basic schematic, The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing is an inspiration. Follow its 16 steps to a completed novel you can be proud of. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First, this book is mainly about PROCESS - which is very good and practical - but also has a lot of good information on fiction writing in general.
This book is for you if you're writing a story with a complex plot (such as political or technological thrillers), many storylines/subplots, and/or lots of characters. In other words, if you have a lot to keep track of, this is a good method that will keep your novel organized and on track.
However, if your storyline is more straightforward, contains just one subplot or none at all, and/or focuses on just a few central characters, this method requires far too much "record-keeping" (or what I call "the writing before the writing"). For these kinds of novels, I recommend the streamlined method in "You Can Write a Novel" by James V. Smith, Jr. instead.
As I said, it's a good book, but its usefulness depends very much on the kind of novel you're trying to write.
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By A Customer on March 15 2004
Format: Paperback
I agree that it's silly to reduce novel-writing to a 16-step plan. But for those of you who (like me) have run out of story 100 pages into a manuscript, there is some good, concrete advice here about plotting commercial fiction. The author's points about conflict, sub-plots, plot surprises, and story proportions are interesting, and rare in a writing how-to book.
Will it turn anyone into a novelist? I doubt it, but it might help you think through your next book more completely before you sit down to write it, and that might help you finish it.
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Format: Paperback
Except for a couple of points, this book does not tell an aspiring writer anything they shouldn't already know. I recommend this: instead of shelling out the fifteen bucks or so for this waste of time, spend it on novels of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Thoreau, or even guys like King, Crichton, or Clancy. If you read a lot (and if you want to write, you should) you'll learn almost everything you need to know. Except for an occasional grammar error, this book presented me with absolutely nothing I didn't already know or needed to know. What's worse is that it makes writing TOO formulaic. This book simply takes what makes writing worthwile out of the art and makes it into something that any average joe can do. It's okay to plan your plot sequentially and such, but this book preaches writing by following a step-by-step guide. I'm sorry, but if you think that's the only way you can write, you shouldn't be writing...not fiction at least. Instead, try writing technical manuals or business guides. This book will just have you churning out repetitive, uncreative, mechanical, BORING slop.
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Format: Paperback
As a books-on-writing junkie, I have to say that I had high hopes for the Marshall Plan. Although there are general plot structures, the so-called scene-by-scene blueprint presented in the Marshall Plan is convoluted and confusing. If you're serious about getting published I would recommend "Novelists Essential Guide to Crafting Scenes (Novelists Essentials) and "Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories, and Scripts" by Raymond Obstfeld. Mr. Obstfeld's approach is much more realistic and comprehensive. Using Mr. Obstfeld's suggestions, I'm well on my way to completing and submitting my manuscript.
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Format: Paperback
I honestly do not have the time to write a complete review of this book. I see though, that reviews are either completely positive or negative for it. That, I do not think is a bad thing, as the book targets a very specific area for your writing. This is not necessarily a complete guide to novel-writing.
What Marshall does is stress the importance of cause and effect in your writing and outlines. This may seem obvious, but alas, it isn't. Some amateur writers try to push their plots along just by their own sheer will, and they never quite gel. In this book the author shows you many techniques via examples and worksheets (yes even in the actual book, not the workbook) on how to make your plot flow logically.
Also covered in much the same way are relationships between characters. How do people manage to meet to wind their way through the plot in the first place? In this area especially is practical instruction on how to keep your novel from being bogged down with side character issues.
Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the approach. Even if you don't subscribe to the larger concepts it will help dead areas in a plot you already have, as well as ones waiting to be created.
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Format: Paperback
I found the Marshall Plan to be an excellent guide for organizing one's thoughts, getting everything laid out, and taking a great idea and turning into a great novel.
Yes, it is very left-brain thinking in its presentation, but that doesn't make it a bad thing, and it doesn't mean that creativity has to be stifled. What this book does is give a person a guide to develop a system. There are exceptions to the rules -- everyone admits that, both in the critiques here and in the book itself. But the good thing about having rules (or at least guidelines) is that if you're going to break one, you're not going to do it out of chance or ignorance. You're going to notice it as a potential problem, think about why you're breaking it, and in the end, either have a good justification for breaking it or fix the problem so it gets back in the guidelines.
Is it easy? No. Wouldn't it be much more fun just to start typing away and get all those exciting ideas out without putting in the preparatory efforts, developing the characters, making sure that you know what your plots are and where and how they're going? Probably. But "easy" and "fun" are not necessarily the best ways to make a great product. While I'm sure that there truly are people for which the Marshall Plan is much more of a hindrance than a help, I can't help but get the impression that a lot of the people who complain about this plan are doing it more out of laziness and desire to avoid the real effort it takes to create a good novel rather than serious failures in the methodology of the book (don't forget, I said there ARE exceptions).
I will not sit here and say this is the perfect book, that its advice is always great and flawless.
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