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Wednesday, March 06, 2013


How to Get Moving on Your Work in Progress: A Review of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts

Writing prompts and I mix about as well as oil and water.  I don’t want to do pointless exercises. Translation: if it doesn’t add words to my work-in-progress it is pointless.

When I received my copy of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts, I was skeptical. As much as I adore Martha Alderson’s Youtube videos, I just didn’t see how a book of prompts could get me moving.

Fortunately, Alderson has anticipated this kind of reaction. “While following the plot prompts in this book, no stream of consciousness writing is allowed, unless it applies directly to the advancement of the plot of your story.”

Alderson designed her book with 120 prompts divided equally among 4 sections—The Beginning, The Halfway Point, The Crisis, and the Climax and Conclusion. Let’s say you’ve already worked up the beginning of your novel. Now you’re floundering in the middle. Turn to that section. Seem to have lost all steam as you reach the Crisis? Again, turn to that section in the book.

Each prompt is actually a grouping—an affirmation, a plot prompt and a writing prompt. The affirmation is a “you go” section to help prime the pumps. Next comes the plot prompt which reminds you what you should be considering right now in terms of story development. It might have something to do with your character’s goals or the setting or even the antagonist. Last but not least is the actual writing prompt with instructions for a scene in your story.

The wondrous thing about these prompts is that they are designed to be helpful no matter what kind of story you a writing. Mine is a middle grade fantasy. Not an adult novel. Not a screen play. Not a mystery. Yet, the prompts that got me going could be used in each of these kinds of writing.

The first prompt was to write a scene in which your protagonist takes a step to achieve his goal. My character took such a step, and I pulled down 1200 words. The next day I used a prompt about setting. I always know where my stories take place but the details are hard pressed to make it into the manuscript. This prompt enabled me to move my plot along and set the story more firmly in my fantasy world, and I compiled another 1000 words.

Unlike many other programs, Alderson asks you to come up with your own goal. Planning to write a screenplay? Or a novel? See how long a comparable work is, then divide that number by 30. Write this number of words daily for 30 days and you will have a completed draft. All you need to get yourself moving are the prompts in this book. How do I know? 2200 words in two days and counting. Not bad for someone who can’t stand writing prompts.

Find out more about Sue's writing on her blog, One Writer's Journey.



We also have five copies of the book to give away, courtesy of the author, Martha Alderson! After that excellent review, I'm sure you'll want to win a copy for your writer's reference library. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts (ARV $14.95), or a e-copy—reader's choice! The contest is open to US and Canada for a print copy, and internationally for an e-copy. If you have problems using Rafflecopter, be sure you are running the latest version of your web browser and have javascript updated.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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Blogger Unknown said...

I love prompt books to get the creative juices flowing. I have The Plot Whisperer on my Kindle and on my to-read list. This just gave me added incentive to move it up the list.

5:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I have always loved prompts, but find that many are more tailored to writing flash or short stories. I love that this book is geared toward longer stories. I love The Plot Whisperer, so I'm positive this book is just as fabulous!

5:39 AM  
Blogger Amber Polo said...

If this is half as good as the Emotion Thesaurus it's a must-have.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Plot Whisperer said...

Thank you, Sue, for so clearly describing the intent of the PW Book of Writing Prompts and how to use and get the most out of the book.

I love reading that the prompts are inspiring significant word counts for you.

What a lovely way to start the day.

Happy plotting!

6:46 AM  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

I'm really intrigued by this book and how it works.

6:58 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I would love to give this book a try. I'm working on the rewrites to my first book.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Anne M. Beggs said...

Great review and a hearty reminder. I, too am a huge fan of Martha Alderson. I love how she is able to demystify plot yet still keep it magic.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick update. I used two more of the prompts and have now added 4800 words to my novel. Flexible enough to be useful but pointed enough to make me think about what needs to happen in my story.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I'm not sure I'm a novel kinda gal. I've been working on my collection of short stories - they come easier to me...but I do have a novel in the beginning stages - and I'm stuck.

I love using prompts, and am interested in how they can further develop my novel.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Jami said...

I just recently found this blog and can't stop reading! It would be wonderful to win a copy of this book...I believe it would be very helpful to my writing process. Thank you!

11:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm working on a young adult novel and using the oter 2 plot whisperer books already. I can't wait to get ahold of this one too!

12:06 PM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Do you think the prompts made you write more than you normally would have and/or better than you would have without the prompt? I'm curious if I could use this book as part of my children's novel writing workshop?

12:33 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Wonderful review, Sue! I love that the prompts actually help you complete your novel. And the idea of dividing your word count by 30 is fantastic. Sounds like another must have for my library!

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For me, the problem has been that I've had too many deadlines. I do the paying work and then don't work on the novel. Just can't work up the momentum to transition into one more project. The prompts help me do that so I am writing more than I would otherwise. Better? I don't know because this is a rough draft. My rough drafts are just that...rough. It would be a helpful tool for your students to learn to use when they get stuck.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

SueBE--I would love to win this. I am in the middle of working on a NaNoWriNOT ;) and could use any prompting/prodding...

2:24 PM  
Blogger Morgan Dragonwillow said...

Well darn, it looks like I am going to have to get another writing book if I don't win it. This looks really good!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful review! I also struggle with the purpose of prompts with my work in progress, so I greatly appreciated your honesty and how you were ultimately won over by the prompts. :)

5:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Love books on prompts! Thanks for this giveaway!

12:33 AM  
Blogger Mel Kinnel (@TizMellyMel) said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

1:43 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

I love anything that can help get those words flowing even a little bit easier.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your review was so detailed and I was really excited to see how this book helped you - 2200 words in two days is exactly what I need to get my book moving again! Thanks!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Alaska Daneel said...

I have her other two books, one in ebook form and one in hard copy. I've been avoiding writing prompt books because I have all the stories I need, but the way you describe the book, as prompt to help you work through a story you already have, make me very interested in it.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

A young adult series I'm trying to start.

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many writing prompt books help me start NEW projects, but this one is unique in that it will help me stay focused on my YA novel I started in Nov for NaNo :) Pick me!!

8:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Your review has just sold me on the book. I've been wondering if I really need another craft book (I have so many), but this sounds like something I could use. I'm the same way with writer prompts, but loved the ones in Donald Maass's latest book.

I'm currently planning my new WIP. :)

5:37 AM  
Blogger LuAnn Schindler said...

I like how this book is structured. I agree that unless it is going to help my WIP, a prompt book may not seem necessary. I'm interested in this though. Could provide helpful when you're stuck in a rut.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Ginia said...

Martha has some really great ideas and I love her twitter posts.

8:21 AM  
Blogger sottovoce said...

I am currently working on nothing. :-(

9:01 PM  

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