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The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing

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BACK IN PRINT Writing With The Marshall Plan® Series Book 1: The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing Book 2: Fiction MakeoverThe book that demystified novel writing for a massive audience, The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, is the groundbreaking international bestseller that went on to become a classic and a staple on hundreds of thousands of writers’ reference shelves. The BACK IN PRINT Writing With The Marshall Plan® Series Book 1: The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing Book 2: Fiction MakeoverThe book that demystified novel writing for a massive audience, The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, is the groundbreaking international bestseller that went on to become a classic and a staple on hundreds of thousands of writers’ reference shelves. The Marshall Plan® technique is the industry’s #1 go-to novel-writing technique for anyone who wants to write a commercial novel—fast.Imagine writing a commercial novel with the skill of a published author and the insider savvy of a New York literary agent...with this book you have all the reference know-how it takes to transform your story idea into a novel worthy of praise and publication.In this unique guide, agent, editor and novelist Evan Marshall provide a clear-cut, 16-step "Marshall Plan" which breaks down the complex novel-writing and design process into a series of parts you put together one piece at a time. Take advantage of the book which has helped thousands of writers become published authors. The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing works.REVIEWS OF THE MARSHALL PLAN® FOR NOVEL WRITING 3.7 average rating all editions, 429 ratings, 55 reviews, added by 904 people, 317 to-reads, 87% of people liked it.—Goodreads 4 out of 5 stars (91 customer reviews)—Amazon “The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing was an integral part in the release of my new historical adventure, Guardian of Paradise. When I decided I wanted to write, I used your book as a resource during the entire process. Some of the more useful tools and ideas were the section sheets and the use of each section ending in a failure for the lead or a success for the lead’s opposition. You were right—without them, the story would have run out of steam way too early and been boring as well. Also the placement of surprises kept the story interesting.” —W. E. Lawrence“The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing is a master plan for aspiring novelists. Evan Marshall is brilliant.” —Bobbi Smith, New York Times bestselling author“A comprehensive manual to writing a novel for all writers—from the beginner to the more advanced looking for polishing tips. Savvy and concise.” —Bill Contardi, literary agent“Finally, a practical how-to manual for all aspiring authors, written with wit and wisdom. A delightful read!” —Maureen Walters, Vice President, Curtis Brown Literary Agency“An invaluable tool for the aspiring novelist. An upbeat, easy-to-follow guide that takes the mystery out of writing.” —Alicia Condon, Editorial Director: Fiction, Kensington Publishing“Evan Marshall has the scoop on making book—from beginning to end and everywhere in between.” —barnesandnoble.com“A down-to-earth approach to completing a novel.” —Boulder Planet ABOUT EVAN MARSHALL Evan Marshall is president of The Evan Marshall Agency, an independent literary agency which specializes in adult and young-adult fiction. He has held senior positions at Houghton Mifflin, Ariel Books, New American Library, Everest House and Dodd, Mead, where he acquired national and international bestsellers. The Marshall Plan® For Novel Writing is now in its 20th anniversary edition. Evan is the author of 10 commercially published mysteries including Manhattan Mysteries and Jane and Winky Suburban Sleuths series, named “Miss Marple Lite” by Kirkus Reviews. His novels appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich, Lilian Jackson Braun, Agatha Christie and Alexander McCall Smith. To learn more about The Evan Marshall Agency, please visit www.evanmarshallagency.com.

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BACK IN PRINT Writing With The Marshall Plan® Series Book 1: The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing Book 2: Fiction MakeoverThe book that demystified novel writing for a massive audience, The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, is the groundbreaking international bestseller that went on to become a classic and a staple on hundreds of thousands of writers’ reference shelves. The BACK IN PRINT Writing With The Marshall Plan® Series Book 1: The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing Book 2: Fiction MakeoverThe book that demystified novel writing for a massive audience, The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, is the groundbreaking international bestseller that went on to become a classic and a staple on hundreds of thousands of writers’ reference shelves. The Marshall Plan® technique is the industry’s #1 go-to novel-writing technique for anyone who wants to write a commercial novel—fast.Imagine writing a commercial novel with the skill of a published author and the insider savvy of a New York literary agent...with this book you have all the reference know-how it takes to transform your story idea into a novel worthy of praise and publication.In this unique guide, agent, editor and novelist Evan Marshall provide a clear-cut, 16-step "Marshall Plan" which breaks down the complex novel-writing and design process into a series of parts you put together one piece at a time. Take advantage of the book which has helped thousands of writers become published authors. The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing works.REVIEWS OF THE MARSHALL PLAN® FOR NOVEL WRITING 3.7 average rating all editions, 429 ratings, 55 reviews, added by 904 people, 317 to-reads, 87% of people liked it.—Goodreads 4 out of 5 stars (91 customer reviews)—Amazon “The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing was an integral part in the release of my new historical adventure, Guardian of Paradise. When I decided I wanted to write, I used your book as a resource during the entire process. Some of the more useful tools and ideas were the section sheets and the use of each section ending in a failure for the lead or a success for the lead’s opposition. You were right—without them, the story would have run out of steam way too early and been boring as well. Also the placement of surprises kept the story interesting.” —W. E. Lawrence“The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing is a master plan for aspiring novelists. Evan Marshall is brilliant.” —Bobbi Smith, New York Times bestselling author“A comprehensive manual to writing a novel for all writers—from the beginner to the more advanced looking for polishing tips. Savvy and concise.” —Bill Contardi, literary agent“Finally, a practical how-to manual for all aspiring authors, written with wit and wisdom. A delightful read!” —Maureen Walters, Vice President, Curtis Brown Literary Agency“An invaluable tool for the aspiring novelist. An upbeat, easy-to-follow guide that takes the mystery out of writing.” —Alicia Condon, Editorial Director: Fiction, Kensington Publishing“Evan Marshall has the scoop on making book—from beginning to end and everywhere in between.” —barnesandnoble.com“A down-to-earth approach to completing a novel.” —Boulder Planet ABOUT EVAN MARSHALL Evan Marshall is president of The Evan Marshall Agency, an independent literary agency which specializes in adult and young-adult fiction. He has held senior positions at Houghton Mifflin, Ariel Books, New American Library, Everest House and Dodd, Mead, where he acquired national and international bestsellers. The Marshall Plan® For Novel Writing is now in its 20th anniversary edition. Evan is the author of 10 commercially published mysteries including Manhattan Mysteries and Jane and Winky Suburban Sleuths series, named “Miss Marple Lite” by Kirkus Reviews. His novels appeal to fans of Janet Evanovich, Lilian Jackson Braun, Agatha Christie and Alexander McCall Smith. To learn more about The Evan Marshall Agency, please visit www.evanmarshallagency.com.

30 review for The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    The Marshall Plan® is a 16-step blueprint for getting your novel written quickly. These steps are broken down into five sections. The first tries to help with deciding what to write and which genre is best for you. Most writers already have an idea in mind when they buy this type of book, but just in case you don't, Marshall explains how to decide. Marshall breaks down the genres, and goes a step further by helpfully breaking each down into different sub-classifications. There are a surprising n The Marshall Plan® is a 16-step blueprint for getting your novel written quickly. These steps are broken down into five sections. The first tries to help with deciding what to write and which genre is best for you. Most writers already have an idea in mind when they buy this type of book, but just in case you don't, Marshall explains how to decide. Marshall breaks down the genres, and goes a step further by helpfully breaking each down into different sub-classifications. There are a surprising number of different types of books under each genre. Section two, the Complete Guide to Plotting, guides the reader through taking a story idea and making it into a plot. Secondary plots, building characters, goals for both the protagonist and the villain, and every other aspect of novel writing are listed. The last section on marketing is one of the most important. The thing to remember is that you don't have to take all the suggestions. Pick and choose which are helpful to you. If you're a seat-of-the-pants writer, all of the planning and templates won't appeal, but there's more to the book than just Marshall's blueprint. The synopsis information included in the writing plan is a good example.

  2. 4 out of 5

    D. Avraham

    The MarshallPlan for Novel Writing, which offers a very clear and structured plan for writing a novel, will chaff at many writers, for it's emphasis is formula, far more than creative inspiration. However, it may be that those writers who really need to read this book. As Even Marshall states in his book, Geniuses who never finish writing their novel, will never get published. And that is Marshall's goal: to help bring an aspiring author from idea to a finished, and published, product. The book's The MarshallPlan for Novel Writing, which offers a very clear and structured plan for writing a novel, will chaff at many writers, for it's emphasis is formula, far more than creative inspiration. However, it may be that those writers who really need to read this book. As Even Marshall states in his book, Geniuses who never finish writing their novel, will never get published. And that is Marshall's goal: to help bring an aspiring author from idea to a finished, and published, product. The book's very precise and structured plan is broken down into simple, manageable steps, which are presented in easy, engaging prose. It's specifically designed for the aspiring writer, who has an desire to write a novel, but does not know where, or how to start. Some authors, myself included, might not want to follow such a precise plan, such a formalized formula of production. Yet, I think that even seasoned writers would benefit from learning Marshall's Plan, as a thorough understanding of the rules and conventions, is the best palette for bending and breaking them. The MarshallPlan for Novel Writing is an excellent tool: providing techniques, methods and insider advice. I highly recommend it for the aspiring and seasoned writer alike.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    I learned several new things from Marshall's book. I like the section sheets, and how it makes it easier to plot things out. I like the systematic steps he had me take in preparing to write. He also laid out things very well and in an easy-to-understand way. At times I felt like his suggestions were overly-simplistic. But, given a book this size, I felt like he did what he could in the space constraints. After all, this book is mainly for beginners, and so can't go into great depth on certain thi I learned several new things from Marshall's book. I like the section sheets, and how it makes it easier to plot things out. I like the systematic steps he had me take in preparing to write. He also laid out things very well and in an easy-to-understand way. At times I felt like his suggestions were overly-simplistic. But, given a book this size, I felt like he did what he could in the space constraints. After all, this book is mainly for beginners, and so can't go into great depth on certain things. And while I don't agree with his approach to which sections "must" go where, he did give some very useful tips on plotting and using action and reaction sections. His editing information was also generally bad advice. However, he is an agent, and not an editor. I find that it is more helpful to talk about general grammar ideas than about specifics, and to focus on the rhetoric impact of choices. I also have a pet peeve about people who leave "little" words out of the text in some misguided attempt to speed up reading or comprehension. Finally, though, I really appreciated his information on queries and synopses since he is an agent and knows what he is looking for. Overall, it was a decent book for beginners to use, as long as they do more study and just do the writing to find what works best for them.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Don Incognito

    This is a nuts-and-bolts, explicitly formulaic manual on writing a novel and getting it published. It is just as explicitly geared toward writing and publishing a genre fiction novel, not some creative work of art, imagination or literary skill. If you're not trying to write an eminently saleable genre fiction novel, this book is not essential reading. But no book on writing is worthless, and if you want any instruction on rational plotting--"section" sheets, "reaction sections," that sort of th This is a nuts-and-bolts, explicitly formulaic manual on writing a novel and getting it published. It is just as explicitly geared toward writing and publishing a genre fiction novel, not some creative work of art, imagination or literary skill. If you're not trying to write an eminently saleable genre fiction novel, this book is not essential reading. But no book on writing is worthless, and if you want any instruction on rational plotting--"section" sheets, "reaction sections," that sort of thing--at least look through it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen P.

    An effective plan explained nicely. Many hate this book because it seems to reduce novel-writing (a so-called art) to a formula. But this is simply one method, and there's no denying that a process is necessary for people who even bothered to read this book in the first place. Why? Because if you're reading it, you're either new at novel-writing completely, having trouble finishing or starting a book, or having trouble selling the one you wrote. Novel writing is a craft. The art is inherently bu An effective plan explained nicely. Many hate this book because it seems to reduce novel-writing (a so-called art) to a formula. But this is simply one method, and there's no denying that a process is necessary for people who even bothered to read this book in the first place. Why? Because if you're reading it, you're either new at novel-writing completely, having trouble finishing or starting a book, or having trouble selling the one you wrote. Novel writing is a craft. The art is inherently built into the craft of creating your work. Even if you map out your twists and decide on rules for your ending.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lex Gilmore

    I could not review a book as thorough on writing if I had tried to search one out on my own. This was given to me to review from my WIN group (I sit as V.P. on the Board) as to provide our writers with a no-holds-barred informative piece of whether it is worth it to purchase or not. Yes, by all means, PURCHASE! Writers everywhere, novice to "80 novels under-your-belt" writers, will not find a more step-by-step forgetting nothing book of expertise anywhere. Mr. Marshall, my hat is off to you. Cove I could not review a book as thorough on writing if I had tried to search one out on my own. This was given to me to review from my WIN group (I sit as V.P. on the Board) as to provide our writers with a no-holds-barred informative piece of whether it is worth it to purchase or not. Yes, by all means, PURCHASE! Writers everywhere, novice to "80 novels under-your-belt" writers, will not find a more step-by-step forgetting nothing book of expertise anywhere. Mr. Marshall, my hat is off to you. Covering your writing space to outlining to figuring out a genre and all the way past agents, publishing and what's next. I rarely give 5 stars to a book, but hey, when it has it all...it gets it all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jacqui

    This book was perfect for me. An organized approach to writing, detailing what you shouldn't forget in a novel. I like step-by-step (if you've read my book Building a Midshipman, you'll understand me), reminders. Sometimes my gut gets off target and I forget things like crises and resolution, tying together plot lines. I used it as a check list at the completion of my novel. Overall, his 16-step program might be the one book you shouldn't miss.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hawke

    This was an insightful guide on how to write a novel, how not to get “stuck” in the writing process, how to finish a story strong. I highly recommend this book and the https://www.themarshallplan.net software.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    This author has a definite idea and structure for writing that is all his own. At first I was turned off by his rigid structure but as I read on I though there were lots of valuable ideas in it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Ives

    Almost everything about this book irritated me. The author is a literary agent, so consequently knows as much about writing as an art dealer does about painting. Setting aside the fact that this book dates from before the advent of Kindles, everything else written here about the *art* of writing is just so wrong - writing to a marketable genre, writing to a set word count, splitting a book into chapters once it is finished and writing to such stringent formulae that there is no art left in it. H Almost everything about this book irritated me. The author is a literary agent, so consequently knows as much about writing as an art dealer does about painting. Setting aside the fact that this book dates from before the advent of Kindles, everything else written here about the *art* of writing is just so wrong - writing to a marketable genre, writing to a set word count, splitting a book into chapters once it is finished and writing to such stringent formulae that there is no art left in it. He even cites Jackie Collins and Jaws as something to aspire to, whilst everything I ever enjoyed - Catcher In The Rye, Star Wars, Cinema Paradiso, Sherlock Holmes, The Great Escape, The Three Musketeers, King Kong, Treasure Island - don't fit this formula at all. His tips for writing short, snappy, description-free prose style would rule out Tolstoy, Dickens, Dumas, Verne, Hugo, RLS, Zola, Homer, Shakespeare and Milton as no-hopers. Maybe those authors aren't commercial any more. He also suggests to treat yourself to little rewards when you reach a writing milestone, like a new laser printer when you finish a manuscript (no matter how sloppy and rubbish it is, without anyone else having read it). Yeah, let's order a Lear Jet while we're at it. He just doesn't live in the real world. I would be grateful for 30mins of peace while writing, with no Java updates, let alone all these fantasy writing desks, fountain pens and rewards. This book is strictly only any use to those who want to write and have absolutely no idea how, but if you are that clueless, this won't turn you into any writer either. Oh, and btw, Mr Evan, "bulletproof" isn't a verb. 2/5

  11. 4 out of 5

    Peter West

    This is a useful book for (not surprisingly) anyone who wants to write a novel. The sixteen steps approach is a bit too mechanistic for my liking but it is aimed at people who need walking through everything, like a bull led by the nose to slaughter. Saying that, it is useful to have all this detail to refer back to when it's needed. The book offers a look under the carpet where editors and agents hang out; the view may not be what you expected. The concept of asking a publisher how many words th This is a useful book for (not surprisingly) anyone who wants to write a novel. The sixteen steps approach is a bit too mechanistic for my liking but it is aimed at people who need walking through everything, like a bull led by the nose to slaughter. Saying that, it is useful to have all this detail to refer back to when it's needed. The book offers a look under the carpet where editors and agents hang out; the view may not be what you expected. The concept of asking a publisher how many words they want in the story, and then hacking your masterpiece to fit it, seems pretty bizarre. The concept that you should set a goal to make your book the right size to fit in a box for delivery is repulsive. Still, the author does admit these pills may be bitter to swallow. It seems they are part of the dark grinding wheels of the publishing industry - the things that crawl beneath the damp carpet. All these things aside, the book does provide useful information, particularly on synopsis writing, finding agents, and producing a book that from day one is aimed at being marketable. Some of the things it tells you to do, you may not like. Some of the things it tells you to do, you may not do. I suspect that with experience, much of this will be clarified into things for amateurs to worry about, but before breaking any rules, it's important to know what they are - and why you think you should break them. This book shows one way to write a novel. Just remember it's not the only way. Towards the end of the book is a section on editing and polishing your work. It lists a couple of pages of very compacted information that in itself is probably worth as much as the previous hundred pages put together.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jody Mabry

    I'm a sucker for books on how to write books. While my style of writing, sitting down and going without a detailed plan isn't suitable for what Evan Marshal presents, I do have to say I enjoyed the book and can see the benefits. What Evan Marshall does is lays out a plan for someone who needs a plan, or someone who has no idea where to go. I have taken certain aspects of the book and introduced them into my own writing, and I love to see how he provides a fairly comprehensive layout determining I'm a sucker for books on how to write books. While my style of writing, sitting down and going without a detailed plan isn't suitable for what Evan Marshal presents, I do have to say I enjoyed the book and can see the benefits. What Evan Marshall does is lays out a plan for someone who needs a plan, or someone who has no idea where to go. I have taken certain aspects of the book and introduced them into my own writing, and I love to see how he provides a fairly comprehensive layout determining how long your book should be, number of sections dedicated to each type of character, and some inspirational points for pushing through. I'd recommend this book to someone who needs focus and an outline, to beginning writers, and to writers who lost, or are searching for their mojo. It's a fun read, and easy read, with diagrams that help a skimmer. I'd suggest it be a mainstay on any writers bookshelf.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristena Tunstall

    I really loved the book's overall principal in how to write a book. It had great insights especially for a new writer like me. But I think whether you are new or have several published books under your belt, his book would help you in some way. The only draw back I found is the cookie-cutter approach. It doesn't allow for you to deviate from his very structure plan when plotting out your book. For myself, I took the gyst of what he said and implemented it into my writing. However, I did not make I really loved the book's overall principal in how to write a book. It had great insights especially for a new writer like me. But I think whether you are new or have several published books under your belt, his book would help you in some way. The only draw back I found is the cookie-cutter approach. It doesn't allow for you to deviate from his very structure plan when plotting out your book. For myself, I took the gyst of what he said and implemented it into my writing. However, I did not make my book follow the exact outline he presribes. Like the old addage says, take everything with a grain of salt and make it work for your writing. I would recommend this to any writer out there today and I already have several times.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bridget Weller

    This book has the kind of prescriptive, painting-by-numbers approach that would make all my writerly friends cringe. And, being told how many sections you should have, when certain things should happen, and exactly how stories should resolve can be a little cringe-worthy. And it ain't going to produce Art. It may, however, produce some work-person-like, saleable genre fiction, if that's what you are after. And for a nuff-nuff like me who can somehow manage to get through two drafts of what is ess This book has the kind of prescriptive, painting-by-numbers approach that would make all my writerly friends cringe. And, being told how many sections you should have, when certain things should happen, and exactly how stories should resolve can be a little cringe-worthy. And it ain't going to produce Art. It may, however, produce some work-person-like, saleable genre fiction, if that's what you are after. And for a nuff-nuff like me who can somehow manage to get through two drafts of what is essentially a genre novel without ever sorting out the plot, it has provided some useful tools to help me get over my natural distaste for planning.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I like his approach to planning a novel. He divides the whole process into bite-size pieces. I especially like his suggestions for "Shaping your Story Ideas" and am using his "section" model for outlining my next novel. I didn't like his use of the the word "suppose" in place of the common "what-if" question to move your story action into the next scene, but that's a nit-pick. The book and it's worksheets are useful, if you want to plot a novel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*

    Marshal's book does not tell you what to write, but instead gives one a great guideline on how to organize your thoughts, chapters, events, and keep things moving. The advice inspired me, organized me, and gave me a sign ahead to keep swimming toward. Excellent book that is exactly what I've always been waiting for, it delivers all it promises, and more. Stuck? This is definately the book you need, for it is the ideal method for those who find outlines work best for them.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Craig Peters

    This is a great book. Although I have to admit, the title of it made it sound like a scam, but its actually a great book that tells you lots of secrets to planning out your novel. You won't have a completed manuscript in 30 days like they say, but you will have a completed plot that will allow you to write your book fast. Its great, and it helped me a lot.

  18. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Waters

    This book has been my bible for writing my first novel. It provides a perfect framework for keeping the pace of the story hopping while keeping track of characters, when they need to show up and shut up. I also bought the workbook and made great use of it. I highly recommend it!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brentman99

    I'm still a few writing help guides away from going back to work on my first novel, but I think that the Marshall Plan will be helpful many aspiring authors who are starting from scratch. Actually, I think that the advice on the plan is fairly common - you need to have a plan and map out what you are going to do, ideally before you write yourself into a corner - just as I have done... However, the part that I found most helpful and will likely use right away was Part 4 - Polishing Your Manuscrip I'm still a few writing help guides away from going back to work on my first novel, but I think that the Marshall Plan will be helpful many aspiring authors who are starting from scratch. Actually, I think that the advice on the plan is fairly common - you need to have a plan and map out what you are going to do, ideally before you write yourself into a corner - just as I have done... However, the part that I found most helpful and will likely use right away was Part 4 - Polishing Your Manuscript with the chapter on How to Be Your Own Editor. I don't think that I have seen such clear examples of what to do or not do in many other books that I have read about writing. Overall, I have some good takeaways from this book. While I think that the section sheets are a bit much for me, the idea that you need to map out in detail what is going on where, when and why hit home. I think it is worth the read if you want to write something longer than a short story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angel Haze

    I read this years ago and I'll never forget it! This is the book that took my many unfinished drafts to complete manuscripts. Since reading and following its blueprints, I have never had a problem finishing a draft. Definitely a must-read for those beginner writers who have trouble finishing a draft because they lose momentum on their books (or lose track of their character's details/descriptions).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Abdul-Samay Ahadi

    The beginning is good for its insistence on having a focus, and the end is the most helpful in terms of giving a necessary checklist on correcting stylistic errors in a finished manuscript. But the middle is far too mechanical and not really my taste. This book focuses heavily on plotting over pantsing, and even though plotting is important, plotting with this precision can make the novel just a series of events that happen.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Overly prescriptive in terms of formula, claiming there is an ideal number of scenes (weirdly referred to as "sections"), viewpoint characters etc according to word count, and dictating opening and closing sequences of scenes. However, there is actually some good craft advice in here in terms of actual writing, if you can look past the formula nonsense.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Traci Hall

    Evan Marshall has simplified the writing process--I am big believer in plotting and this takes away the need for post it notes and index cards. I highly recommend it!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Seth

    This book gets a lot of bad press. At its heart, the critics are right: it presents a formulaic approach to creating a saleable fiction manuscript in your chosen market. The Marshall process guides creation of characters, plot points, chapter and scene structure, and a classic Freitag's triangle of tension. Like almost all books on writing, this is targetted at the unsusccesful beginner. Talking about your "market" turns some people off right at the start. Talking about word count and outlines lo This book gets a lot of bad press. At its heart, the critics are right: it presents a formulaic approach to creating a saleable fiction manuscript in your chosen market. The Marshall process guides creation of characters, plot points, chapter and scene structure, and a classic Freitag's triangle of tension. Like almost all books on writing, this is targetted at the unsusccesful beginner. Talking about your "market" turns some people off right at the start. Talking about word count and outlines loses a few more. But even many experienced writers complain about his clear structure for plot points, which creates a predictable rise and fall of tension; some feel that it take a goodly portion of the art out of writing. To a great degree, this is the goal of the process: to help a less-skilled and less-experienced writer focus attention on expression rather than plot creation. And Evan Marshal writes cozy mysteries; a pre-structured plot fits his world and that of any category genre writer. If you're the sort of person who takes learning wherever you find it, though, there are good points throughout the book, ones that you won't find in most writing manuals and that might offer a different way of thinking about plot and structure. First, he throws out planning by scene or chapter and structures the manuscript around failures which introduce a change in story goal for the characters. With this one focus the book teaches things about plot and/as-opposed-to story that takes a careful reading of many other books to finally find. Because he teaches it in a worksheet format (and sells a workbook of forms as well), he builds habits in the writer rather than discussion too much theory. Second, he contrasts sections of action and sections of reflection. Certain failures require reflection on the part of a character. This may be alone or may require a secondary character to talk to; it may be an extended break or may occur during a trip across town; it may be an ecstatic breakthrough and it may be a complete breakdown. Marshall takes a lot of uncertainty out of the plotting, but his process does ensure some emotion in the story. These relationships between story goals, failures to achieve a goal (the classic "make things hard on your character"), change in story goal, and moments of reflection, insight, and expression of emotion are taught more directly in this book than in any of the other dozens of writing books I've read. Whatever you think of a programmed sequence to create category fiction, Marshall knows something about writing that applies to us all.

  25. 4 out of 5

    C.B. Hampton

    “More writers fail to sell their work, not because of bad writing, but because of poor storytelling structure.” I read that quote years ago, but it meant nothing to me. In my youth as a writer, I imagined writers just sat down with their pipes and wrote either great or bad novels. After a couple of miserable attempts to start and finish a novel, I remembered those words, so I went looking to understand them. Then I discovered the hero's journey, the W system and a lot of other methods for organi “More writers fail to sell their work, not because of bad writing, but because of poor storytelling structure.” I read that quote years ago, but it meant nothing to me. In my youth as a writer, I imagined writers just sat down with their pipes and wrote either great or bad novels. After a couple of miserable attempts to start and finish a novel, I remembered those words, so I went looking to understand them. Then I discovered the hero's journey, the W system and a lot of other methods for organizing (structuring a novel.) The problem was I could draw a W, but I didn't know how to fill in the holes between the peaks and valleys of the W. Then I made another discovery—The Marshall Plan. That book was a tremendous aid to structuring my novels. The Marshall Plan shows you exactly how to fill in the blanks. It is not a formula, it is a pathway to completing a professionally written book. I liked the hero's journey, but I had problems filling in the blanks on that structure, too. What I discovered was that by overlaying the Marshall Plan onto the hero's journey, comparing one to the other, I came away with a great story structure. For new novelists, I recommend having the discipline to go with the structure recommended by the Marshall Plan first, then test it against any other structure you might favor. People complain that the Marshall Plan is too dictatorial, too structured, but if you take the time to study the system, you will find it is totally flexible. The type of each section can be changed to fit your story. But, if you follow the Marshall Plan literally, no one will ever say your novel failed because of poor structure. I have three books on Amazon and just completed a 120,000-word thriller, The WIND. I know it is properly structured because I used the Marshall Plan to test it. I recommend the Marshall Plan for any serious novelist. Charles B. Hampton

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The Marshall Plan is strongly formulaic and intended for writers of genre fiction. Neither of these is bad, although the Plan itself is more rigid than I'm comfortable with. But you could use parts of it either on their own or in combination with some other technique. For instance, I couldn't see myself plotting out an entire book start to finish with Marshall's section sheets, as the Plan would have you do, but I think they'd be good for analyzing your scenes during revision. Marshall has more The Marshall Plan is strongly formulaic and intended for writers of genre fiction. Neither of these is bad, although the Plan itself is more rigid than I'm comfortable with. But you could use parts of it either on their own or in combination with some other technique. For instance, I couldn't see myself plotting out an entire book start to finish with Marshall's section sheets, as the Plan would have you do, but I think they'd be good for analyzing your scenes during revision. Marshall has more on subplots and how to weave them into the main story than many how-to-write books. I thought his "NovelMaster" table, which balances the number of scenes and the number of viewpoint characters against the desired word length of the book, was interesting and spelled out something to be thought about, although again, I wouldn't feel bound to its recommendations. The book is in five parts. The first part is about deciding what kind of book you want to write. The second part covers the Marshall Plan and is probably the heart of the book. The third, fourth, and fifth parts cover general fiction-writing skills, editing, and marketing. Other books cover these in more depth and may be more up-to-date (this book was published in 1998). But for the would-be writer who needs a concrete template to work from, that second part may be just what they're looking for.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Very solid and mostly on the mark. One of the better books out there on how to craft a novel that will sell, and I chose those words very carefully. I teetered between giving this a 4 and a 5 as it isn't quite perfect but maybe it is as close as one gets. The tie-breaker was all the 1 and 2 ratings by pantsers and 'artists.' Look, that group isn't going to like anything that talks about how to apply craft to what is a craft. They want it to be art which is all about fuzzy feelings and self-impor Very solid and mostly on the mark. One of the better books out there on how to craft a novel that will sell, and I chose those words very carefully. I teetered between giving this a 4 and a 5 as it isn't quite perfect but maybe it is as close as one gets. The tie-breaker was all the 1 and 2 ratings by pantsers and 'artists.' Look, that group isn't going to like anything that talks about how to apply craft to what is a craft. They want it to be art which is all about fuzzy feelings and self-importance. Otherwise, why are words like genre and saleable used in a negative fashion by them? Hey, if you want to create works of art that no one wants to buy or if you are writing for yourself and don't care what anyone else thinks - no problem. That is your choice. But for those who want to pursue writing as a career then you have to address your writing as a product and by that it means genre and saleable. Make something that a consumer (read buyer) wants and design your product to that. Or you can go the artist route - make whatever you want and then try to shop it out to someone who recognizes your brilliance. Good luck with that. You want to learn how to write a book that you can sell? This is a good place to start.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Jourden

    Most books on writing try to make writing seem fun, creative, and exciting. The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing does exactly the opposite. As far as interesting reading goes, this book ranks somewhere between a telephone book and a car repair manual. So why am I still giving it four stars? It's great at what it does. This book will hold your hand literally every step of the way from your initial idea to completion. It will take an aspiring writer (with their desk drawer of fizzled out beginnings Most books on writing try to make writing seem fun, creative, and exciting. The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing does exactly the opposite. As far as interesting reading goes, this book ranks somewhere between a telephone book and a car repair manual. So why am I still giving it four stars? It's great at what it does. This book will hold your hand literally every step of the way from your initial idea to completion. It will take an aspiring writer (with their desk drawer of fizzled out beginnings and endings without a story to go with them) and guide them, almost word by word, to a finished product. It's unlikely following this plan rigidly will produce a best seller, but there are worse ways to attempt writing an entire novel start to finish. If you're an aspiring novelist who is willing to put in the work to finish a novel but isn't quite sure where to start, or how to keep going once you've started, then I'd say this book is a must read. If you've finished writing a book before or are looking to read something about writing for entertainment value alone, you can steer well clear of The Marshall Plan For Novel Writing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert Downes

    Even the most skilled writer can benefit from a checklist if and when a manuscript is deemed to be finished. For me, it was a heads-up on improving character development in a recent historical novel. I had finished the manuscript with an intense focus on plot and historical research, yet late in the rewrite process, realized that I needed to put much more into filling out the characters of my book. In this regard, "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing" is invaluable in that it not only provides a Even the most skilled writer can benefit from a checklist if and when a manuscript is deemed to be finished. For me, it was a heads-up on improving character development in a recent historical novel. I had finished the manuscript with an intense focus on plot and historical research, yet late in the rewrite process, realized that I needed to put much more into filling out the characters of my book. In this regard, "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing" is invaluable in that it not only provides a roadmap for would-be novelists, but can also serve as a timely reminder of what an author may have missed prior to writing "The End" on a manuscript. Author and literary agent Evan Marshall has reviewed hundreds (perhaps thousands) of manuscripts during his years as an editor with Houghton Mifflin, Ariel Books, Dodd, Mead and other publishing houses. He has a canny eye for what literary agents and publishers are looking for and his Marshall Plan helps to break down the barriers for writing a strong, cohesive work of fiction and providing its best chance of getting published.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elliot Hyland

    The number of non-fiction books I've read is nearly invisible, but for books about writing I'm very willing to make exceptions. I liked this one a lot! Like Evan Marshall stated himself: It's really hands-on! In 16 steps Marshall, a literary agent, takes you from choosing the correct writing genre up to the final goal: getting published. He gives a lot of tips as to how improve your writing (I particularly appreciated that part) and points out the dangers in writing, but also in approaching agen The number of non-fiction books I've read is nearly invisible, but for books about writing I'm very willing to make exceptions. I liked this one a lot! Like Evan Marshall stated himself: It's really hands-on! In 16 steps Marshall, a literary agent, takes you from choosing the correct writing genre up to the final goal: getting published. He gives a lot of tips as to how improve your writing (I particularly appreciated that part) and points out the dangers in writing, but also in approaching agents and editors. However, as a point of criticism, I would say that Evan Marshall sticks very much to one writing strategy and you get the feeling that you have to follow all the rules in order to have a succesful novel. I don't buy that. There are lots of authors who aren't aware of all those rules, let alone that they will follow them. Anyway, It's certainly a must-read for every starting writer. Loved it!

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