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The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing

(Writing With The Marshall Plan)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  433 ratings  ·  55 reviews

Writing With The Marshall Plan® Series
Book 1: The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing
Book 2: Fiction Makeover

The book that demystified novel writing for a massive audience, The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, is the groundbreaking international bestseller that went on to become a classic and a staple on hundreds of thousands of writers’ reference shelves. The

Paperback, 242 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Writer's Digest Books (first published 1998)
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Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-writing, 3-own

The Marshall Plan® is a 16-step blueprint for getting your novel written quickly. These steps are broken down into five sections. The first tries to help with deciding what to write and which genre is best for you. Most writers already have an idea in mind when they buy this type of book, but just in case you don't, Marshall explains how to decide. Marshall breaks down the genres, and goes a step further by helpfully breaking each down into different sub-classifications. There are a surprising n
D. Avraham
Aug 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The MarshallPlan for Novel Writing, which offers a very clear and structured plan for writing a novel, will chaff at many writers, for it's emphasis is formula, far more than creative inspiration. However, it may be that those writers who really need to read this book. As Even Marshall states in his book, Geniuses who never finish writing their novel, will never get published. And that is Marshall's goal: to help bring an aspiring author from idea to a finished, and published, product.

The book's
Mar 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I learned several new things from Marshall's book. I like the section sheets, and how it makes it easier to plot things out. I like the systematic steps he had me take in preparing to write. He also laid out things very well and in an easy-to-understand way.

At times I felt like his suggestions were overly-simplistic. But, given a book this size, I felt like he did what he could in the space constraints. After all, this book is mainly for beginners, and so can't go into great depth on certain thi
Don Incognito
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a nuts-and-bolts, explicitly formulaic manual on writing a novel and getting it published. It is just as explicitly geared toward writing and publishing a genre fiction novel, not some creative work of art, imagination or literary skill. If you're not trying to write an eminently saleable genre fiction novel, this book is not essential reading. But no book on writing is worthless, and if you want any instruction on rational plotting--"section" sheets, "reaction sections," that sort of th ...more
Stephen P.
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
An effective plan explained nicely. Many hate this book because it seems to reduce novel-writing (a so-called art) to a formula. But this is simply one method, and there's no denying that a process is necessary for people who even bothered to read this book in the first place. Why? Because if you're reading it, you're either new at novel-writing completely, having trouble finishing or starting a book, or having trouble selling the one you wrote. Novel writing is a craft. The art is inherently bu ...more
Lex Gilmore
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I could not review a book as thorough on writing if I had tried to search one out on my own. This was given to me to review from my WIN group (I sit as V.P. on the Board) as to provide our writers with a no-holds-barred informative piece of whether it is worth it to purchase or not.
Yes, by all means, PURCHASE! Writers everywhere, novice to "80 novels under-your-belt" writers, will not find a more step-by-step forgetting nothing book of expertise anywhere. Mr. Marshall, my hat is off to you. Cove
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was perfect for me. An organized approach to writing, detailing what you shouldn't forget in a novel. I like step-by-step (if you've read my book Building a Midshipman, you'll understand me), reminders. Sometimes my gut gets off target and I forget things like crises and resolution, tying together plot lines. I used it as a check list at the completion of my novel.

Overall, his 16-step program might be the one book you shouldn't miss.
Christopher Hawke
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an insightful guide on how to write a novel, how not to get “stuck” in the writing process, how to finish a story strong. I highly recommend this book and the software.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
This author has a definite idea and structure for writing that is all his own. At first I was turned off by his rigid structure but as I read on I though there were lots of valuable ideas in it.
Andrew Ives
Almost everything about this book irritated me. The author is a literary agent, so consequently knows as much about writing as an art dealer does about painting. Setting aside the fact that this book dates from before the advent of Kindles, everything else written here about the *art* of writing is just so wrong - writing to a marketable genre, writing to a set word count, splitting a book into chapters once it is finished and writing to such stringent formulae that there is no art left in it. H ...more
Peter West
Apr 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-craft
This is a useful book for (not surprisingly) anyone who wants to write a novel. The sixteen steps approach is a bit too mechanistic for my liking but it is aimed at people who need walking through everything, like a bull led by the nose to slaughter. Saying that, it is useful to have all this detail to refer back to when it's needed.

The book offers a look under the carpet where editors and agents hang out; the view may not be what you expected. The concept of asking a publisher how many words th
Jody Mabry
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for books on how to write books. While my style of writing, sitting down and going without a detailed plan isn't suitable for what Evan Marshal presents, I do have to say I enjoyed the book and can see the benefits. What Evan Marshall does is lays out a plan for someone who needs a plan, or someone who has no idea where to go. I have taken certain aspects of the book and introduced them into my own writing, and I love to see how he provides a fairly comprehensive layout determining ...more
Kristena Tunstall
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who is a writer
I really loved the book's overall principal in how to write a book. It had great insights especially for a new writer like me. But I think whether you are new or have several published books under your belt, his book would help you in some way. The only draw back I found is the cookie-cutter approach. It doesn't allow for you to deviate from his very structure plan when plotting out your book.

For myself, I took the gyst of what he said and implemented it into my writing. However, I did not make
Bridget Weller
Jul 19, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: how-tos
This book has the kind of prescriptive, painting-by-numbers approach that would make all my writerly friends cringe. And, being told how many sections you should have, when certain things should happen, and exactly how stories should resolve can be a little cringe-worthy. And it ain't going to produce Art.

It may, however, produce some work-person-like, saleable genre fiction, if that's what you are after. And for a nuff-nuff like me who can somehow manage to get through two drafts of what is ess
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I like his approach to planning a novel. He divides the whole process into bite-size pieces. I especially like his suggestions for "Shaping your Story Ideas" and am using his "section" model for outlining my next novel. I didn't like his use of the the word "suppose" in place of the common "what-if" question to move your story action into the next scene, but that's a nit-pick. The book and it's worksheets are useful, if you want to plot a novel.
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
Marshal's book does not tell you what to write, but instead gives one a great guideline on how to organize your thoughts, chapters, events, and keep things moving. The advice inspired me, organized me, and gave me a sign ahead to keep swimming toward. Excellent book that is exactly what I've always been waiting for, it delivers all it promises, and more. Stuck? This is definately the book you need, for it is the ideal method for those who find outlines work best for them.
Craig Peters
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
This is a great book. Although I have to admit, the title of it made it sound like a scam, but its actually a great book that tells you lots of secrets to planning out your novel. You won't have a completed manuscript in 30 days like they say, but you will have a completed plot that will allow you to write your book fast. Its great, and it helped me a lot.
K.J. Waters
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book has been my bible for writing my first novel. It provides a perfect framework for keeping the pace of the story hopping while keeping track of characters, when they need to show up and shut up. I also bought the workbook and made great use of it.

I highly recommend it!
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm still a few writing help guides away from going back to work on my first novel, but I think that the Marshall Plan will be helpful many aspiring authors who are starting from scratch. Actually, I think that the advice on the plan is fairly common - you need to have a plan and map out what you are going to do, ideally before you write yourself into a corner - just as I have done... However, the part that I found most helpful and will likely use right away was Part 4 - Polishing Your Manuscrip ...more
Abdul-Samay Ahadi
The beginning is good for its insistence on having a focus, and the end is the most helpful in terms of giving a necessary checklist on correcting stylistic errors in a finished manuscript. But the middle is far too mechanical and not really my taste. This book focuses heavily on plotting over pantsing, and even though plotting is important, plotting with this precision can make the novel just a series of events that happen.
Angel Haze
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-books
I read this years ago and I'll never forget it! This is the book that took my many unfinished drafts to complete manuscripts. Since reading and following its blueprints, I have never had a problem finishing a draft.

Definitely a must-read for those beginner writers who have trouble finishing a draft because they lose momentum on their books (or lose track of their character's details/descriptions).

Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Overly prescriptive in terms of formula, claiming there is an ideal number of scenes (weirdly referred to as "sections"), viewpoint characters etc according to word count, and dictating opening and closing sequences of scenes. However, there is actually some good craft advice in here in terms of actual writing, if you can look past the formula nonsense.
Traci Hall
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Evan Marshall has simplified the writing process--I am big believer in plotting and this takes away the need for post it notes and index cards. I highly recommend it!
Aug 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fiction writers who need a different view
Shelves: writing
This book gets a lot of bad press. At its heart, the critics are right: it presents a formulaic approach to creating a saleable fiction manuscript in your chosen market. The Marshall process guides creation of characters, plot points, chapter and scene structure, and a classic Freitag's triangle of tension.

Like almost all books on writing, this is targetted at the unsusccesful beginner. Talking about your "market" turns some people off right at the start. Talking about word count and outlines lo
C.B.  Hampton
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
“More writers fail to sell their work, not because of bad writing, but because of poor storytelling structure.”

I read that quote years ago, but it meant nothing to me. In my youth as a writer, I imagined writers just sat down with their pipes and wrote either great or bad novels. After a couple of miserable attempts to start and finish a novel, I remembered those words, so I went looking to understand them. Then I discovered the hero's journey, the W system and a lot of other methods for organi
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
The Marshall Plan is strongly formulaic and intended for writers of genre fiction. Neither of these is bad, although the Plan itself is more rigid than I'm comfortable with. But you could use parts of it either on their own or in combination with some other technique. For instance, I couldn't see myself plotting out an entire book start to finish with Marshall's section sheets, as the Plan would have you do, but I think they'd be good for analyzing your scenes during revision. Marshall has more ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very solid and mostly on the mark. One of the better books out there on how to craft a novel that will sell, and I chose those words very carefully.

I teetered between giving this a 4 and a 5 as it isn't quite perfect but maybe it is as close as one gets. The tie-breaker was all the 1 and 2 ratings by pantsers and 'artists.' Look, that group isn't going to like anything that talks about how to apply craft to what is a craft. They want it to be art which is all about fuzzy feelings and self-impor
Isaac Jourden
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Most books on writing try to make writing seem fun, creative, and exciting. The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing does exactly the opposite. As far as interesting reading goes, this book ranks somewhere between a telephone book and a car repair manual. So why am I still giving it four stars? It's great at what it does.

This book will hold your hand literally every step of the way from your initial idea to completion. It will take an aspiring writer (with their desk drawer of fizzled out beginnings
Robert Downes
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even the most skilled writer can benefit from a checklist if and when a manuscript is deemed to be finished. For me, it was a heads-up on improving character development in a recent historical novel. I had finished the manuscript with an intense focus on plot and historical research, yet late in the rewrite process, realized that I needed to put much more into filling out the characters of my book.
In this regard, "The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing" is invaluable in that it not only provides a
Elliot Hyland
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
The number of non-fiction books I've read is nearly invisible, but for books about writing I'm very willing to make exceptions.

I liked this one a lot! Like Evan Marshall stated himself: It's really hands-on! In 16 steps Marshall, a literary agent, takes you from choosing the correct writing genre up to the final goal: getting published. He gives a lot of tips as to how improve your writing (I particularly appreciated that part) and points out the dangers in writing, but also in approaching agen
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Evan Marshall is president of The Evan Marshall Agency and author of The Marshall Plan® For Novel Writing, the international bestseller on novel writing now in its 20th anniversary edition. The Evan Marshall Agency is an independent literary agency which has specializes in fiction ( He is an internationally renowned expert on novel writing.

Evan Marshall is autho