Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review: The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media (October 15, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 1440525889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440525889
  • List Price: $8.98
  • I finished this book on January 2

Okay, soooo...first off, thanks to my gorgeous and talented sissy for letting me borrow this even though it was a Christmas present and you clearly didn't want me to take it.

Alright, let's get down to business: the book. It's about...well....books. Okay, I've probably checked about 15 books on writing in the last couple of years. My favorite so far is Stephen King's On Writing and to be honest, it's only 50% about writing (the other 50% is memoiry. Yeah, that's a word). The other ones? Yeah...I'm not saying I didn't read them but...I didn't finish a single one. The closest I've ever gotten to finishing a book about writing was 90 Days to Your Novel of which I probably read 3/4. Why am I telling you this? Because you should know I read this whole book cover to cover. And that's got to say something.

The book has some slightly cheesy encouragement parts and a lot of stuff about how your story fits in the "Universal Story"

The Universal Story would be more fun if there was a luck dragon in it.

But aside from that stuff the book is a solid, step-by-step plot building guide. Alderson takes you from the general story stuff to the in depth: character development, transitions, themes, all the elements you need to develop a great story out of your ideas. As in all books about writing Alderson uses several examples from classic works and popular literature. Now...I read a lot, and I will tell you, it's pretty rare that one of these books references a book I have read. This one mentioned at least two or three I had read amongst the many I had not. Gold star for me.
I think this book's advice was particularly helpful for me because of where I am in the writing process - I have finished a first draft (which is mildly terrible) and am revising. I was able to take many of the suggestions and apply them to my story.
If you're a writer, I would wait to begin this book until you have some semblance of an idea to work with before starting. If you follow the steps in the book you will end up with a crazy thorough plot diagram that looks like a rainbow threw up post-it notes on a posterboard.

And really, if you have that many post-it notes you should be doing this...

In google stalking Mrs. Alderson (like ya do) I found her crazy involved website and a shit-ton of youtube videos she's posted on plotting if you're into that sort of thing. Though, curiously, I couldn't track down one novel she's written, so....weird.
Either way: I liked this. It definitely gave me stuff to think about while I'm revising. I'll probably be featuring different parts of the book as I apply them to my writing process

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