The Opening Scene: A Review of the Plot Whisperer and the Plot Whisperer Workbook
I took my first beginning to my critique group. Nope. It was too confusing, because I had started the story too late. I started the story earlier and tried again.
I took the new first chapter to my critique group. Still not enough backstory so I started still earlier.
When that didn’t work, my confidence deflated. I remembered a plotting diagram in the Plot Whisper and The Plot Whisperer Workbook. They were in my “to review” stack. What better way to test them than this first chapter fiasco? I mentally issued the author a challenge. Drag me out of this writing slump, Martha Alderson. I dare you.
The plot diagram, Alderson’s Plot Planner, includes the character’s emotional development. Although I was convinced that the problem was plot not emotion, I sat down to do the activities. After all, a dare is a dare.
I created character emotional profiles for my protagonist, my antagonist and side kick. Apparently, Mr. Sidekick is not the goody-two-shoes people see; this new knowledge deepened the story.
I typed a list of scenes. Not difficult, but they were more numerous than I had expected.
I found a 6-foot-long piece of paper as recommended by Alderson for a full-sized plot planner. I wasn’t convinced I needed this much, but I typed my scenes including plot, subplot, emotional arc, dramatic action and theme. As I cut and taped to the chart, I realized it would take 6 feet of paper. Then I got another shocker. Original scene #1 was now scene #6, at the first turning point.
I had originally started the story way too late, a fact I would have seen on this type of plot diagram. Alderson has you look at turning points. At the first one, your character commits to a course of action different from his opening goal.
At the turning point, my character decides on revenge. If I had been using the Plotter from the start, I would have plunked down a revenge chapter and realized that the story needs to build to this point, not start here.
I highly recommend these books. The Plot Whisperer explains the concepts you will use, showing how each is essential. The workbook takes you through exercises that get the job done.
There are sections on exploring theme; creating story arcs for your antagonist and secondary characters; how and where to work in details; testing cause and effect; and working in backstory.
I’m looking forward to playing with theme but I’ll also study the sections on backstory and all the rest. Why? Alderson has already surprised me multiple times by supplying tools I need before I understand that I need them.
Find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards and her work on her blog, One Writer's Journey.
GIVEAWAY: THE PLOT WHISPERER & THE PLOT WHISPERER WORKBOOK
Writers, you're in luck! We have three copies of each book to give away, courtesy of the author, Martha Alderson! After Sue's marvelous review and recommendation, I'm sure you'll want to win the set for your writer's reference library. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win print copies of The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (AVR $14.95) and The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories (AVR $16.95) or e-copies—reader's choice! The contest is open to US and Canada for a print copies, and internationally for e-copies. We have six books total to give away, and we will randomly choose three winners to receive the set of both books.
a Rafflecopter giveaway