Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Martha and her life-sized Plot Planner 
You quite possibly have heard of Cesar Millan, the dog whisper and Robert Redford's portrayal of Buck Brannaman, as the horse whisper, but have you ever heard of Martha Alderson, the Plot Whisper? I got a chance to spend five hours with her, and about 100 other writers, this weekend at the SCBWI Writer's Day.

Martha has been successfully whispering plot for over a decade. Her client list includes best-selling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors. Martha's passion is to help writers get their story told as evidenced in her free YouTube videos detailing plot.

Although the L.A. SCBWI Writer's Days lasted for two days, I only attended the Sunday intensive with Martha. Fortunately, I was able to spend the two weeks prior to the event dissecting Martha's book The Plot Whisper, so I was primed and ready for all she had to share. Out of respect for the event and the author's work I will only share the highlights here, but if you want to know more feel free to visit Martha's YouTube channel where she shares all about The Universal Story, The Basics of Plotting, The Four Key Scenes and more.

During the five-hour intensive Martha detailed the use of her Plot Planner and the importance of breaking the story into quarters from the End of the Beginning to the Resolution. She also explained the importance of using Energetic Markers to keep your story active and connected. I really enjoyed this workshop, but I have to say my favorite part of the day was when Martha used her plot planner to plot out John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Jane O'Conner's Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet. Who knew you could plot out the same major steps of a novel in a picture book? It was a feast for this writer's eyes.

Overall it was a great day. I gained a deeper insight to plot, caught up with old writing friends, and got a free lunch, too! (Well, not exactly free, but it was included with my registration fee.) If you get a chance do check out Martha's book. Or if you've discovered the secret to successful plotting, please share!


9 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'll have to look for her book. That's great you got to spend such a large chunk of time in the workshop with her.

Johanna Garth said...

Plotting is always something that leaves me wringing my hands a little. Will have to read the book and how cool to have workshopped with her!

Angela Verges said...

Thanks for providing this information. I was recently researching more information on plotting for picture books. It's good to see that the novel information applies to picture books too.

Crystal Collier said...

Ah! I love her series online. It's been a while since I popped in to check out her new videos, but she's definitely one of the free resources I point people toward when they're working to understand a plot. =)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like a great workshop. I've heard of her book.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Workshops are very helpful. I'm more a pantser than a plotter. The last book idea I made myself plot out I lost complete interest in. Yeah, forced plotting out, bad idea. I would have loved to see the plotting out of the picture book. That I also find fascinating.

cleemckenzie said...

I've met Martha and co-taught a workshop with her. She's amazing. How great that you were able to sit in on her presentation.

S.P. Bowers said...

Nope, never heard of it. Thanks for the info, and I hope you had a fabulous time at the writers day.

Stephsco said...

Thanks for pointing out this great resource! I tend to say I will try any plotting advice at least once :)

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