Recently, I received an email from one of my heroes, Evan Marshall. You probably recognize his name (you should!). He wrote THE MARSHALL PLAN FOR NOVEL WRITING, which you can find on Amazon and elsewhere. It is the one book of advice for writers that, in my humble opinion, stands above all others, because it offers truly practical advice, the sort of nuts and bolts stuff that you really need to know. I mean, the stuff you REALLY NEED TO KNOW. For more details on the book, check it out on Amazon. If you'd like to read an interview with Evan Marshall, there is one at Absolute Write.
If you're wondering why the "guru of novel writing" (see interview at Absolute Write) would send moi an email, here's the reason: for the past three years. Evan, along with coauthor Martha Jewett, was working on a software program to accompany his book. The software is a novel-writing program which follows the Marshall Plan. It is designed to help you plan your novel by breaking your story down into sections, and pointing the way as you juggle multiple plot lines. You don't need the software to use the Marshall Plan -- the plan is outlined in the book, and there is also a Workbook available to help you further (as well as a book on Getting Your Novel Published). Nonetheless, the software is very helpful in laying out the templates for you--it fully automates this process. The templates are the forms you fill in to describe what happens in each section (or scene) in your story. If you have read the book without quite grasping what the plotting system was all about, the software will lay it out for you and make it absolutely clear exactly how the Marshall Plan works.
You can find a detailed description of the software on Evan Marshall's site.
Evan offered to send me a free copy of the software so I could review it. That was certainly very generous of him. I emailed him back that I would be happy to review it, and might even test out the software and blog about it here, so my readers can learn more about it and its potential usefulness.
When I first received the software, it took me seconds to install it, about ten minutes to get the basic sense of it, and within twenty minutes I had already started plotting a novel with it. Note that I accomplished this without reading any instructions! The software is intuitive, if you are familiar with the Marshall Plan.
The past few weeks I've been working with the software, and I reread the book to make sure I'm up on the concepts and excellent advice of the Marshall Plan. I'll start sharing that experience now, using the next several blog postings to tell you about the software and the Marshall Plan and how they have helped me -- and they have!
So, look forward to some enthusiasm (I've got lots after the experiences of the past few weeks), some helpful advice (the Marshall Plan is full of it), and some rather impressive results (I've been amazed at what I've accomplished).