Tuesday, 25 June 2013

If I Had Gotten To The Letter "P"...

...in the #AtoZ Blog Challenge, I would have had plenty to say.

First, there would have been Photography, because I like that a lot. Then there would have been Publishing, because I'd like to be more of that, of course. But, really, what I might have keyed on would have been PLOT and PROMPT. Because the former is something I struggle with--and the latter is something that helps me deal with it.

Martha Alderson
So what happened to my #AtoZChallenge anyway? Months later, it's easy to answer because I'm not so annoyed about it. No sooner did I get past "M" for Malaysia but we nearly lost out Internet service completely! That's right, in 2013. *Poof* It was more than I could recover from. The Challenge moved on and by the time we had proper service restored, it was at "V". Never mind. I'm jumping back to "P" and taking deep breaths.

This post is about a book. A book about Plots and a book filled with Prompts related to plot. The author is Martha Alderson.

Do I recommend it? Heck, yes! That's why I'm here writing about it. This is my third Martha Alderson -- aka "The Plot Whisperer" -- book. First, I got The Plot Whisperer. It's reviewed on Amazon here. Next, I bought The Plot Whisperer Workbook. I reviewed that latter on www.amazon.com and you can find it here.

And then? About two weeks ago I bought the Kindle version of The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts. I've been using said prompts daily since. The subtitle -- "Easy Exercises To Get You Writing" -- has been 100% true for me. I read a comment once on a review of an Alderson book and the commenter, who otherwise liked the book a lot, said there was "too much whispering". Frankly, that comment alone sold me, though I didn't need much selling since I'd been very pleased with the first two books in the series.

How does it work? The prompts are numbered. There's no date. There are simply 120 prompts related to plot. The first chapter is about setting writing goals, what the book's all about, how to use it. And then there is some basic Martha Alderson "Plot Planner" info to help you see how the prompts relate to plot.

Finally, there are the prompts themselves. Each of the 120 prompts consists of: 
  • An affirmation prompt (the whispery part, I suppose)
  • A plot prompt (something about your protagonist or goals and actions, for instance)
  • A writing prompt (an instruction/suggestion about what to write that day to address the plot prompt)
  • A record (a place to track the time, words, projected end date, energy level)
My result? From the beginning, I've found the prompts uncanny. If I was just starting a new book, this is what I would start with: a daily get-you-going semi-meditative exercise with some clearly defined, related things to think about. And a specific prompt to get your pen on paper. Mind you, I'm not just starting. I have well over 150,000 words in my current manuscript. But I also have plenty of holes, some glaring oopses, some really weak stuff, some backstory that's needed. You name it. I know it's there. Or not there.

This is helping me fix it. Each day, I repair something or rework something I know is weak, or missing. I am working through the prompts in order...1, 2, 3...though one day I skipped one and moved on. I might try jumping around soon. Whatever it is, there's something there I can work on each day.

How does it work? One day, for instance, it might be a prompt to write moment-by-moment action about something stands in my heroine's way and interferes with her getting what she wants. I do the affirmation first--each is different, they're very good and each one ends with "Today I write", which still makes me say "wow" every time I whisper it to myself (see? it's the whispering). Then Martha explains a bit and suggests what to write about--and why. And I think "Oh, yeah, that bit I never wrote about when Anna and Sergeant Roper fell off the cliff..." And then I note the time and take a whack at that in a notebook (with no lines!) and *poof*. When I stop later, guess what? I've usually got 700-1500 words that I needed and I trot off to Scrivener, do some typing and apply the patch.

What's next? My notion is that this practice will be great for the next book. Of course, I have to finish this one--but it's getting there. I'm aiming toward doing NaNoWriMo on November 1st and I sense that the plot work and daily writing to the prompts would be excellent daily starters. I might read through and pick out 30 prompts that address my greatest areas of need or weakness and go with it that way. Whatever it is, though, I know that beginning with the affirmation prompt (and repeating to myself  "Today I write.") is the way to go for me.

Interested in your own copy? Check it out on Amazon right here. Thanks, Martha!

p.s. You don't have to have the earlier books to get what you want out of this one. Martha makes a lot of information available via her blog, a very informative YouTube channel, and a newsletter filled with information. She is very generous with the free stuff; I noticed some prompts in her blog if you want to check them out. Oh, yes, Anna and Sergeant Roper didn't fall off a cliff.

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