Martha Alderson: How to Plot Your Writing Time During the Month of November
I'm delighted to welcome plot guru Martha Alderson to my blogging home today. Martha has worked with hundreds of writers in sold-out plot workshops, retreats, and plot consultations for more than fifteen years. Her clients include bestselling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors. Over to Martha!
Martha: Thank you, Lia, for asking me to write a bit about how The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master helps writers prepare for NaNoWriMo. I deliberated writing about how, in the time left before November 1st and the beginning of NaNo, the Plot Whisperer book allows you to create a rough pre-plot of the novel, memoir or screenplay you have in mind to write.
Then, I thought about writing how The Plot Whisperer book guides you step-by-step into creating a Plot Planner vision board for the project with, at the very least, general and often vague ideas for the four key scenes or Energetic Markers found in every novel, memoir, screenplay. The rest of the story falls into place around these key scenes and grows as you continue writing throughout the month of November.
End of the Beginning Scene
The Halfway Point Scene
Since both of those angles are thoroughly covered in the book, instead, I chose to focus on another benefit entirely...
How to Plot Your Writing Time during the Month of November
NaNoWriMo challenges writers to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That works out to be 1667 words per day, every single day of the month.
While keeping that word count in mind, at the same time, writers who understand how to use the time most effectively based on the Universal Story, find themselves at the end of November with more than just 50,000 words (though that is an admirable accomplishment in itself).
Writers who are savvy about the parameters of the Universal Story finish out the month with a definable beginning, middle and end.
Divide the total number of days in November (30 days total) by 4 (the total number of parts that make up the structure of the Universal Story). The answer = 7.5 days indicates that you have a bit more than a week to devote to the beginning quarter, a week to write the end quarter and two weeks to write the entire middle.
Pull out your trusty calendar and indicate when you should be writing each of the four major Energetic Markers.
Mark on your calendar that you will be writing the End of the Beginning scene on November 7th.
Knowing you have from November 1st through the 7th (I’m rounding off for ease in the explanation) or one week to write the beginning quarter of your story helps keep you to your goal of completing the entire project by the end of the month. During Week One you know exactly what needs to be accomplished to create a satisfying rough draft of the beginning quarter of your project during that 7-day period (NOTE: Chapter Eight in the Plot Whisperer book covers parameters for the beginning).
Mark on November 15th on your calendar that you will be writing the recommitment scene. This means that as you approach day 15, you know from the Universal Story that you are reaching the 2nd Energetic Marker of the halfway mark and what is required of you at that point in the story. (NOTE: Chapter Nine explains what is needed in the beginning of the middle section of your story.)
On November 21st, indicate that you should have already written the crisis or are finishing it up that day. (NOTE: Chapter Ten explains what is needed in the second half of the middle section of you story.)
On November 28th, you should be writing the climax. (NOTE: Chapter Eleven explains what is needed in the final quarter of your story.)
(NOTE: Because I rounded off the days, you have a 2-day grace period.)
An understanding of the elements of the Universal Story covered in the Plot Whisperer book allows you to schedule your time to successfully reach you goal AND better deal with the emotional blocks and resistance and confusion you will likely confront in each new section of your writing schedule.
The Universal Story guides you to pushing aside the drama in your own personal life, see the challenges for what they are and thus, makes you better able to write your way through the chaos and successfully reach the end of the month with your prize in hand.
Oh… and as you write during November, do not despair if you find yourself off track of your pre-plot or stuck down a blind alley or two or three. Beginning December 1st, join us to re-vision the plot arc at the dramatic action, character emotional development and thematic significance level of your project during PlotWriMo.
Hope to see you there!
MARTHA ALDERSON has worked with hundreds of writers in sold-out plot workshops, retreats, and plot consultations for more than fifteen years. Her clients include bestselling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors. She lives in Santa Cruz, CA. Follow her blog, workshops, vlog, or follow her on twitter and facebook.
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