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Writer’s Tip #87: 7 Tips Picked Up From the Plot Whisperer

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

These 7 tips are from a busy plot consultant I just discovered (where have I been?). Her name is Martha Alderson, better known as the Plot Whisperer. Her clients include best-selling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors (according to her FB bio). She has so many helpful ideas, tips and books on her blog and Twitter. Go visit. If you’re short on time, read these seven I culled from the deluge:

  1. Beware: Do not succumb to a personal crisis as protagonist reaches darkest moment. Evoke the emotion in your writing
  2. Crisis scene=cathartic release. Spiritual renewal. Release from tension. Backstory consciousness & expression. Build energy now.
  3. Consider readers’ needs & how your story hews to them. Then, get out of the way & get on with writing & discovering…
  4. Long-term goals are simply dreams until broken into manageable, realistic short-term goals.
  5. Face your fear with the belief there is nothing to fear. Today write fearlessly.
  6. The more you believe in yourself as a writer, the more it shows in your writing.
  7. Write at the same time & place daily. Before long your body takes you there effortlessly and the muse awaits.

If you need more than these seven pithy tips, check out Marg McAlister’s Writer for Success. She has entire online courses. Or this article from Janice Hardy at Fiction University. If you’re a NaNoWriMo enthusiast, here’s what their forum says about plotting.

More on plotting:

It’s Not What Happens to Your Character Readers Care About. It’s Their Reaction That Matters

9 Reasons Why Readers Stop Reading

11 Tips from Blockbuster Plots

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into education, webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. 

29 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #87: 7 Tips Picked Up From the Plot Whisperer

  1. These really got me thinking. Can you elaborate any more about tip #1? Not succumbing to personal crises? Is that referencing taking some cliche way out and not giving the reader the emotion she/he deserves?


    • That would be the same as ‘muscle memory’, wouldn’t it. It makes better sense when I think of it that way. Me, I consider it routine, pattern, autopilot–all those mechanisms I use to make decision making (like when to write) easier and less stressful.


  2. I found a book “Write Your Novel from the Middle” that gave me a totally new perspective on plotting. By James Scott Bell, available as kindle for very little…yes, and I’m addicted to collecting ebooks on writing also! Has anyone else read it? The plot development concepts are pretty unique, I think.


      • I’ll see if it’s loanable. Basically you create a triangle with the ‘look in the mirror’ moment of recognition of needed transformation at the top point. When you know what that is, you can construct a more powerful story building up to that point, and then include actions that prove the transformation is real and attainable going toward the ultimate transformation (The End) Simple, right? LOL


  3. Plotting is one of those aspects of novel writing that looks a lot simpler from the outside. New writers (and sometimes not so new) can find they have a great story in their head, have solid writing skills, a good command of dialogue, and a knack for description, but once they transfer their story to paper it just isn’t working. The middle’s saggy or the ending lacks pizzazz or the beginning is overloaded with backstory—if you hang around writing groups for a while, you soon begin to spot the problems with everyone else’s writing, and eventually you begin to see it in your own.

    Liked by 1 person

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