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Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software

When I first read literary agent Evan Marshall's book The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing in 2009 (before I was published) -- I tried to use his system to make a novel outline using paper in a notebook. (This was my review, back then). It didn't work out for me, mainly because I write romance (which has very specific formulas of sorts, that can't be put into a system that has the romantic involvement as secondary).

He's created software that follows the principles of his book, and offered it to me for free to try out and write about it. ***None of the links are affiliate links, btw. This is a brand-new version of The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software for both Windows and Mac.

If writers want to try out Marshall's outlining system, then using the software will help make an outline more easily than if they tried to do it with paper, from scratch. But...

Personally, I really don't outline. I'll write a one page synopsis to sell a book, but that always changes as I write. I know that if I'm going to write a romance novel, then my book starts with two people who are not together, and ends with them in love and living happily ever after.

I've found that my stories naturally fall into three acts, with a game-changer at the end of act 1, one in the middle, and one at the end of the middle (before the last act). If I hadn't read Marshall's book I might not even be aware that's what I was doing.

Some writers are outliners/plotters. I sort of wish I was, as well, because then I wouldn't have to go back and change the beginning of every single book I wrote when I hit the end. Alas, I'm a pantser. That one time I tried Marshall's outline, not only did I not finish the outline, but I didn't write the book. At all. The story felt all used-up to me.

I like discovering what will happen as I write. It keeps it fresh and fun and interesting, even if it involves more clean-up work at the end when it's time to edit.

So... do I recommend this software? Not if you write romance. And not if you hate outlining. But if outlines are your thing, and you're writing some other genre fiction that's not romance, it might work for you. I really wish there was an option to change the outline to fit the romance genre more easily, because writing an outline for a book with a romance subplot won't work.

One big issue I found: if you decide to change your wordcount, you will actually lose entire sections you may have already filled in. The data will be lost.

One good thing about his outlining system is it will help writers remember to have a reaction scene after something big happens, and to keep track of alternating POV characters.

The last three books I wrote (The Pulse Trilogy - book 1 releases November 25th from Simon & Schuster/Pocket Star) - I had so many different characters and POVs and surprises/game-changers etc that I'm *still* unsure how I kept track of it all. My copyeditor made this crazy-long style sheet to keep track of it herself.

I wish I could say that I tried the software, was able to successfully plot out a book, and then write it. But instead I just looked at each section and thought "that'll come out as I write" - because that's what happens for me. That's me, not everyone. Your mileage may vary.

Put simply, even though I read his book four years ago when I was brand new to all of this, I am not his target audience now. I've already got a method that works for me -- it's messier than his way, but it works. However, if you're overwhelmed by the complexity of writing a full novel (and that's okay! It's not easy!), then this type of hand-holding through the outline could work really well for you.

I bet after doing it once or twice, the rhythm of what should come where and when and how will come naturally.

In summary... read the book first. Marshall  knows what makes a book fast-paced and what looks good to publishers. But he doesn't necessarily know how your individual author-brain works (my brain just wants a blank MS Word doc). If you like his book and want to try his outlining method, then I suppose it makes sense to do it using the software.

The software costs $149 and has a 30 day guarantee, per the website.

Keep on writing, my friends :)
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, September 6, 2013

Guest Post by Sascha Illyvich: Writing Kink

Hello, Fellow Writers!

As many of you know, most of my published books are kinky erotic romances, like the bestselling Enslaved Trilogy. I keep this blog rated PG so that the advice can work for authors of any genre, and the guest blog below by erotic romance author Sascha Illyvich isn’t graphic or anything. But it is helpful in that she talks about researching props that play a major role in her book.

So if you’re writing a cowboy romance and you have a chance to ride a horse to see what it’s like, smell the barn, touch the hay, etc, go for it! And if you’re writing kink... well, see what Sascha has to say ;)

Writing Kink

by  Sascha Illyvich

I recently read a blog post that talked about writing a novel in an entire three day span because the author had set himself up with heavy plotting and image finding so all he'd need to do was sit and write.

Used a formula too, like most great writers.  The voice is the important thing, not the formula of course.  This got me thinking about the set up in my office.  True, I have only a laptop desk, and chair but I also have my whips hanging off the wall beside my desk.   By that is a necklace my former PA made me that's her version of the Triple Goddess symbol.  These reminders are because I write kink and I tend to write a lot of paranormal romance, two genres I sometimes blend because I can!

Having reminders allows me to stay focused when I'd rather sit on youtube and watch music videos or howto stuff all day LOL! 

The fun thing for me is that the toys (whips, floggers, various paddles) all have memories associated with different stories, different events in my life and even share some secrets.  But they're also tax write offs, woohoo!  You know, all that research just for a scene in a story.

Can't have a whip bottom unhappily reading my books, now can we?

Learning the skill for a toy, even if you're not kinky is important because it allows you the writer, some experience, feelings, emotions, based on the education you're getting about said toy.  This plays well into your stories where kink is a heavy hand in the plot, due to resistance, fear, or whatever device you use to keep your characters engaged while maintaining conflict.

In the end, it makes you a versatile writer and allows you to drag your readers deeper into the stories you write.

Buy link for Surrender to Love on Amazon.
Read an excerpt here.