14 December 2014

Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson's PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month with Literary Agent Jill Corcoran

Seven years ago, I began offering the beta version of PlotWriMo for novelists who were word-drunk from NaNoWriMo. Over the years I refined and perfected the steps to help writers revise all those words generated in November into a compelling story with a plot (and all other novelists and memoirists and screenwriters struggling to create a pleasing stories for readers).

Earlier this year, I partnered with Jill Corcoran and incorporated her insight of concept and knowledge about the inside of publishing into an entire PlotWriMo video program. The feedback and "ah ha" moments we have received have been enormously rewarding and makes all the time and hard work worthwhile.

Sample of incredibly gratifying "ah ha" Moments from Writers Using PlotWriMo to Revise their Stories
"Now, what did I learn from the videos? Goodness, what did I not? It's all about the structure. Being a pantser doesn't work when you are revising (Not sure it would work for me - ever), but you have to be clear in your journey. I also learned to forgive myself. To keep writing. And that we can learn from our mistakes and become better writers."

"Jill (video 4, I think) explained what agents meant when they say "They didn't connect" and it was like a lightbulb had been screwed in my head-- I failed to meet all of the essential elements of a scene. There was always something about my former MS that I could never pinpoint that felt off, and that was just it! I needed more emotional development, conflict/ tension, dramatic action and clear goals PER scene."

"I watched the Revise Your Novel in a Month videos and really began to understand the difference between crisis and climax and the key ways to develop each part of the plot."

"PlotWriMo is the closest “formula” for structuring a book I’ve ever discovered. It’s like an algebra equation for writing – if you’re missing any of the energetic markers you can’s solve for X."

"It’s helped me re-envision my own work and I can’t stop myself from dissecting every movie and book I’ve read since."

"I've learned a lot through the PlotWriMo series. I've always struggled with revision, but the PlotWriMo series has helped me organize my revision so that I am going deeper than I ever have before at making my story shine."

"I watched PlotWriMo and learned about EMs, concept and that the antagonist OWNS the middle."

“Ah, ha” Moment: The exercise of writing down all of the themes, and getting down to the grittier ones. And when I found my darker theme was about loss, and the threat of losing someone you love. I couldn’t believe when I went back and looked at the Energy Markers and found that common theme. I’m working on deepening the scenes with metaphors and thematic significance."

"Don't start drafting until you're happy with the concept and markers."

"As for what I learned, viewing both the crisis and the climax from my antagonist’s point of view gave my story dramatic action and the depth it needed to bind the story and pull in the reader."

"Yet my greatest aha moment came with the challenge of writing the concept, giving my story definition. As a young woman I took my family on some exciting adventures, wounds and all, and the only dream still intact in the end was my passion and desire to be a writer. I couldn’t just throw out my concept because it wasn’t good enough, or my life wouldn’t be either. Crafting my concept, meant validating what I had done and why, all the parts and pieces."

"I really had an "aha moment" when Martha Alderson talked about the end mirroring the beginning."

The icing on the proverbial cake is all the great success we hear from writers like the one writer who secured an agent (having the amazing opportunity to chose from 3 offering her contracts).
As Wendy McLeon MacKnight writes: "No word of lie - it is absolutely thanks to Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson! The last round of revisions changed everything! I just thank god I have the videos and future classes for other books! I have worked like a dog on this book, but the videos and Martha's book really changes everything. The advanced workshop kicked my butt in the best way possible and made me really rethink some things and made the work so much better! What I know for sure is that maybe, without Jill and Martha and the videos, I might have eventually written a book that hung together, I might have eventually found a literary agent, but they gave me a wormhole that, with some elbow grease, allowed me to zip forward light years. And who doesn’t want to zip forward light years? So you may wonder if the cost of the course is worth it, but I’m here to say: six months after finding Jill and Martha I began to have agents requesting full manuscripts and now have a literary agent. And that is all thanks to Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson and these wonderful tools they are offering us!"