Book Review: Blockbuster Plots Pure and Simple, by Martha Alderson

Since I discovered Martha Alderson, the Plot Whisperer last week, I've worked through her free videos on plot, and have read her book, Blockbuster Plots Pure and Simple.

Alderson has spent years analyzing plot and breaking it down to its bare essentials. She is a consultant for novelists, memoirists, and screenwriters, and shares what she's learned in Blockbuster Plots. If you watch her growing collection of online videos, you'll see why she's earned the name, The  Plot Whisperer.

Blockbuster plots is broken down into two parts. The first half takes you step-by-step through Alderson's Scene Tracker, which helps writers analyze their written scenes for seven essential elements. The Scene Tracker can also be used to plan scenes so that they have the biggest possible impact on the reader.

By scanning the Scene Tracker, writers can quickly identify scenes that don't live up to their potential. These scenes can be cut, or pumped up with action, conflict, or thematic details.

The second half of the book teaches writers to use the Plot Planner, a detailed map of your novel, showing where to place the most intense scenes. Alderson has devised a way for writers to indicate at a glance who is in control in a specific scene--the protagonist or the opposition.

Alderson has figured out the perfect timing for the crisis and climax of your story, as well as "the end of the beginning", the pivotal scene that ends Act 1 and propels your character into Act 2 with all it's complications. Once you know the framework of great novels, it's not so hard to flesh out the skeleton with the scenes Alderson helps you craft.

Maybe plotting doesn't ever baffle you, but I believe every writer can benefit from some time focused on the intricacies of plot. If you're at a point where you're stuck, or just burned out, a book like this may be all you need to get going again. It sure helped me.

Alderson posts even more plot tips on her blog, The Plot Whisperer, and also shares tips on Twitter.

Do you have any go-to resources for plotting?

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