Methods of Writing #4: The Marshall Plan
In my last three posts, I've explored some writing methods such as Linear, Snowflake, and Kiser. Tonight, I wanted to take a few minutes to explore the well-known Marshall Plan. I know many writers who swear by the Marshall Plan. I haven't used it myself. As I said, I'm not a big fan of the formulaic methods but I have to admit that, on the surface, the Marshall has promise.
To go off on a tangent for a second, I love anything that feels like homework so I do like the fact that there is a workbook to go along with the instruction book. I know, I know, how weird is that? So the idea that there is a workbook is intriguing to me. However, I still feel that if I spend time filling in the workbook, I would be taking that time away from the actual writing of my book.
There are 16 parts in all to the Marshall Plan. Step 1 is to decide what the is right novel for you to write. I agree that is important. Personally, I think prospective authors need to pick the type of book that flows organically from their perspective and isn't just a case of "what's hot right now and what can I mimic?"
Steps 2, 3, 4, and 5 cover shaping story ideas, creating the protagonist, writing the supporting characters, and formulating beginnings. There is a lot of good in building a strong foundation in these areas for new authors. After an author starts to get comfortable with the writing process, knowledge of how to master these areas should become common practice.
As the Marshall Plan progresses, middle steps in the process cover story line progressions (Step 6) and learning how to surprise the reader and keep the interest flowing (Step 7). It moves on in a natural flow to Step 8 which covers how to write effective endings.
In all, the above Steps 1-8 cover the writing of the first draft of your book. Steps 9, 10, and 11 cover revising the draft and working on dialogue and action, among other writing topics. It all leads to Step 12 which discusses creating the final draft. Steps 13 and 14 cover the editing process.
The Marshall Plan moves towards an ending with Step 15 on writing proposals now that your book is finished. The final chapter (Step 16) covers how to approach editors and agents.
After reviewing the Marshall Plan, my opinion is that it's an excellent plan for a first-time writer but I don't know if it has the same merits for a second book or a writer with a lot of experience. I'd be willing to hear what others think. Have you used the Marshall Plan? Did you find the workbook helpful? What do you think?