Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Software Review: The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Template Generator

How would you like to write a novel that is so well crafted it grabs your reader by the throat, shoves them up against the wall and doesn't let go until they've finished it? If you're going to write it you'll need to plot and as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago plotting ain't for weinies.

While I was in the midst of my plotting angst I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Template Generator. I had used Evan Marshall's book to guide me in targeting a genre, determining word length, and number of scenes/characters. I had actually written my plot in the form of a word document instead of writing everything out on the scene cards he provides and thought I had it covered.

When I received the Template Generator and started plugging in my plot I found out differently. Using Evan Marshall's software program forced me to really think about some things that I hadn't realized were issues. It helped me to identify the need for two additional subplots and helped me to fill in some gaps in my story that I hadn't seen before. The program is easy to use and I can guarantee that I'll be using it to plot from now on.

Here's what Evan Marshall had to say about The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Template Generator:

MP: The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Template Generator is a natural extension of your books. Can you tell us how it came into existence?

EM: Ever since my first Marshall Plan® book, The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, came out ten years ago, I have received mail from writers asking if the system is available in software form. The system does lend itself perfectly to a computer program. Once I started to think about converting the system into software, I knew exactly how I wanted it to be, so rather than hire a developer, I took several years to teach myself how to program, and created the software myself. And it’s exactly what I wanted it to be—a program that helps you answer some key questions about the novel you plan to write, then generates a “template” or detailed plot structure for that novel, with the proper number of viewpoint characters, the idea number of scenes, and all of them in their proper place and order. It really works! And there’s no other program like it.

MP: Most of us are either left brained or right brained. Writing is definitely a right brain activity. How difficult was it for you to switch to the left brain activity of programming?

EM: I thought learning programming would be a nightmare, but I love it, because it’s actually more right-brain than people think. I found creating the software—deciding on its design, its look, keeping it clean and simple but effective—was extremely creative. I’m working on two more exciting new programs now.

MP: How long did it take to complete the software?

EM: All in all, about four years.

MP: What's your favorite aspect of The Template Generator software?

EM: That you can keep changing your mind about any number of elements—word length, number of viewpoint characters, whether to include a romantic thread, whether to make your antagonist visible or “invisible” (as in a mystery), and so on—and the program automatically readjusts your template. This feature makes it very easy for a writer to try out different ideas to see what works best.

MP: Do you recommend that people purchase The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing in addition to the Template Generator? Why or why not?

EM: The program is designed to stand completely on its own, so that it’s not necessary to read the book, but for people who want to reinforce some of the ideas in my system and read more deeply, it can’t hurt.

MP: Where can we purchase The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing Template Generator software?

EM: At my website: www.marshall-plan.com. There you’ll find a detailed explanation of the program and what it does, with numerous screen shots.

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