I love to read books on craft. I have many of them, and continue to marvel at the ways these books weave advice about writing in so many ways and yet all hope to get a writer to the same place. One of my very favorites is The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson.
The book opens with an introduction which begins, Something urges you to pick up this book. And from there she begins to write not just about writing craft, but about our humanity and who we are in the world. Alderson describes how the stories we write, and things we put our characters through, speak about who we are as human beings.
I teach the Universal Story to writers through plot. Though difficult to accomplish successfully, plot is critical to stories. As I continue to teach and write and consult, I gain new insights into plot… and into writers’ lives.
She goes further to speak about the things that we struggle with as writers and the things that block us and how we should dig deep when these pop up in our writing because some baggage in our real world there needs to be unpacked and dealt with.
This is not to say that a murderous villain’s actions are speaking to the author’s experience. She’s talking about the deeper stuff. The conflicts, the motivations, the juicy meat that makes a story universally relatable.
Alderson talks about energy, and the Universal Story that we all strive to come into contact with. And how our ability to tell a story that speaks to everyone will be dependent on how we approach the world as a left- or right-brained person, or both. AND THEN… she tells you how to do it. *yay*
Look what happened when I finished the one of the exercises:
That’s my book there on my wall, all laid out in blue post-it notes. When I took this picture, I had been having issues with that first little downhill jaunt up there. Post-it note number 3 and 4 after the crisis peak were causing all kinds of havoc on everything that came after.
Posting it out like this, as the exercise advised, I was able to move through and solve the problem and became completely jazzed in the process. Being jazzed about your book is important.
I got so excited I grabbed my husband and made him come in to see the fabulous plot poster, but insisted that he didn’t actually READ any of the notes because he had not read the final draft yet and some of the juicy bits had now changed. So he admired my blue story structure plan and congratulated me and then left the room with me grinning like a starry-eyed maniac.
When I started writing this book, I did so without a plan. I had it in my head where I needed to go and I went. Once the first draft was finished, it was okay. I was enamored of the process and realized my story went in a few directions I hadn’t intended. Many drafts later, I was still paying for that lack of planning as I reworked some stuck spots and solved the larger issues of plot. Above all things, I have realized that I require a plot plan.
If you look closely, you’ll see a little pink post-it in the lower left corner. That was the start of another line of my story about to be explored and added to the six foot paper mural. I added green and orange tags as well. The exercises in this book are done in such a way as to help you see your story to its fullest completion. My plot poster was a kaleidoscopic adventure of bullet points when I was done.
If you’re looking for some help with your story plot, I highly recommend The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson.
Corinne O’Flynn is a native New Yorker who now lives in Colorado and wouldn’t trade life in the Rockies for anything. She loves writing flash and experimenting with short fiction. Her novel, THE EXPATRIATES (Oct. 2014) is a YA fantasy adventure with magic and creatures and lots of creepy stuff. She is a scone aficionado, has an entire section of her kitchen devoted to tea, and is always on the lookout for the elusive Peanut Chews candy. When she isn’t writing or hanging with her family, Corinne works as the executive director of a nonprofit. She is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The Expatriates is available on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble. She blogs about her adventures at www.corinneoflynn.com