Wednesday, November 3rd through Sunday, November 7th, 2010
Santa Cruz Mountains, California
For novelists, screenwriters, memoirists and writers of creative non-fiction of all skill levels.

Limit -- 12 writers
Every writer leaves with an individualized Plot Planner of your story's dramatic action plot line, character emotional development plot line, and/or thematic significance plot line, a Scene Tracker of at least your five key scenes, and a thematic significance statement for your entire project.

Testimonials and photos of the June 4-Day Writers' Plot Retreat

More photos of the 1st ever Writers Plot Retreat

Writers, whether intentionally or not, convey a deeper message in the stories they write.

This retreat is intended for serious writers, no matter what your writing level, with the desire to further your craft of creating compelling stories and advance your writing project.

Something magical happens away from home deep in nature and surrounded by fellow writers. With a focus on plot and structure, character emotional development, thematic significance and scenes, our retreat offers time to deepen the overall meaning of your writing piece.

Martha Alderson conducts morning and evening plot workshops where writers develop and deepen the overall dramatic action plot, character emotional development plot and thematic significance of their piece.

The retreat begins with an exploration into theme and offers each writer the remaining four days to identify and deepen the thematic significance of your story.

Create an individualized Plot Planner of your writing project, color-coded by each of the three major plot lines and including a special focus on:

  • Plot elements critical in Beginning, Middle, End
  • Cause and effect
  • Building conflict, tension, suspense and curiosity in dramatic action
  • The importance of character development, emotion, and transformation / change
  • Development of the three major plot lines within each scene
  • Authentic details
  • Deeper meaning of your story
  • Each writer is guaranteed 1-hour Plot Consultation on a portion of your story throughout the retreat as a teaching tool for all participants.

    Each writer reads 1-2 key scenes of your story and all participants track for the 7 essential elements in every scene.

    Plenty of quiet time is provided to allow writers time to mull over and plan their plots, write, dream, and wander. Every writer leaves with a completed Plot Planner of your writing project. Add layers to the Plot Planner you have already created, create a plot plan for a new writing project or for one in preparation for a major rewrite.

    The Writers' Plot Retreat is held at a private home in the Santa Cruz mountains located halfway between San Jose and Santa Cruz, California. The home is 5600 square feet of contemporary architecture nestled on 21 redwood-forested acres with breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys. Tranquility and privacy, and DSL and cell reception available. For images of the vistas available to you, click here.

    Everyone has a roommate(s), the bedrooms are large and comfortably furnished and separated by gender. (Bedding and towels included.)

    Transportation: Fly into San Jose, the nearest airport, and we provide transporation from the airport and back at no charge.

    Beginners, intermediates and advanced writers alike are encouraged to bring:

  • Your characters
  • List of scenes or ideas in your story
  • Hard copy of your story (if you have one)
  • For those of you who have not yet started a writing project, let me know and we will provide you with everything you need. You are guaranteed fellowship with other writers in an inspirational setting.


    Martha Alderson, M.A., is an international plot consultant for writers and the author of Blockbuster Plots Pure & Simple. Her clients include best-selling authors, writing teachers and fiction editors, and Hollywood movie directors. She can help you, too, with plot. She has taught plot workshops for memoir writers, novelists, and screenwriters privately, through University of Santa Cruz, Learning Annex, Writing Salon, Writers Store, and writing conferences.

    Join Martha to explore the critical relationship between characterization and plot in a gorgeous setting and with other like-minded writers.

    (NOTE: The retreat with a "community living" element: i.e., everyone pitches in on mealtime clean-up, getting the dishes loaded in the dishwasher, etc. We have sign-ups for each person to be the leader for a mealtime event.)

    Testimonials and photos for the June 4-Day Writers' Plot Retreat

    More photos of the 1st ever Writers Plot Retreat


    The project you helped me with, Talhotblond, aired on MSNBC. We also just got bought by a major studio for distribution. I walked away from your seminar not only more confident, and with a great roadmap, but with a burst of creativity that I haven't felt in a long time. Martha Alderson's advice is like a secret weapon. shhh, don't tell!
    Barbara Schroeder, director/writer of Talhotblond

    Thanks Martha! It all began with the whispering...
    Shana Mahaffey author of Sounds Like Crazy

    I am so happy to tell you that I have sold my first screenplay to a producer wanting to make the movie and keep me on as a writer/producer for the script SCUBA. Your instruction on structure and plot really made the difference. Thanks for giving me the tools I needed to succeed in this industry.
    Shawn, screenwriter

    I wish I could wrap you in the galaxy of gratitude and whirl you into the pure joy of nature! You are so generous with your time, insight, expertise, wisdom, and kindness. I am a bit overwhelmed but truly excited to get to work. Thank you.
    Luisa Adams, author of Woven of Water.

    Martha's gentle questions about motivations and theme led me deeper into my story. Looking for clues in the characters led to intersections with other characters, plot complications and best of all, conflict. Martha's keen insights about the structure of plot helped me better understand the story I was telling and gave the tools I needed to write it, in a new and exciting way.
    Terri Thayer, author of Wild Goose Chase mystery series and Stamped Out mystery series.

    Lasting gratitude to Blockbuster Plots, invaluable in getting my thoughts into book form.
    Shreve Stockton, author of Daily Coyote

    I learned so much it is like someone opened my brain and poured in a whole new way to write. My consultation with you was invaluable. It was not only what you taught me about plot: your encouragement and enthusiasm gave me confidence. You are a genuine and generous human being, and that is the real gift.
    Mary Cronk Farrel, author of Fire in the Hole and Daughters of the Dust

    Thank you thank you thank you! Honestly, what a gift you're offering us.
    Holly Payne, author of The Virgin's Knot and The Sound of Blue and Kingdom of Simplicity

    Martha is as knowledgeable and passionate about storytelling and "plotting" plot as anyone I have ever met. Her books, templates and workshops break it down and get the light bulbs going! A writer at any level will learn something.
    Jennifer Solow, author of The Booster

    Taking your class several years ago was integral in improving my craft as a writer and I want to make sure you know that this has been an important part of the success I've finally attained. My agent got me a two-book deal with St. Martin's Press! It's so exciting as it's hard to believe this is finally happening.
    Wendy Tokunaga, author of Midori by Moonlight and Love in Translation

    Martha Alderson, the 'Plotting Queen' introduced me to the front story/back story concept while I was weaving LOVE MADE OF HEART. This extraordinary teacher came through again, with her book! Just in time for me to finish weaving another novel!
    Teresa LeYung Ryan , author and community member who encourages everyone to step into their dreams.

    I've taken your course, of course, and found it enormously helpful. In fact, I take your course at conferences every chance I get. Thanks, Martha! I couldn't do it without your help!
    Penny Warner, author of more than 50 books including The Official Nancy Drew Handbook and Dead Man's Hand.

    Hey, regarding your book - someone sent me a copy of Chris Baty's (the creator of NaNoWritMo) book NO PLOT, NO PROBLEM. It's merely musings compared to your Bible. It would be nice, though, since 90,000 people signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, if your book had a tie-in somehow, like maybe on Amazon's 'If you like this book, then you'll LOVE Blockbuster Plots'. Just a thought, Martha!
    Mary Eastham, author of The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget

    I cannot stress how Martha's emphasis on the external aspect of plot drove home to me the inherent necessity for a clear plot if the story is not only to hang together and make sense, but have meaning, too.
    Anjuelle Floyd, author of Keeper of Secrets and The House

    It would save a lot of people a lot of time if they did this from the start. The Plot Planner is a good tool for taking something that is huge and unwieldy (a novel) and making it something that can be understood at a glance.
    Jim Averbeck, author of In a Blue Room

    I love Martha's plot planning. It works!
    Adrienne Barbeau, author of There are Worse Things I Could Do

    Martha offers writers terrific plot and writing technique workshops. Check her out!
    Christopher Gortner, author of The Last Queen

    This book will change the way you approach writing! Martha Alderson's Scene Trackerand Plot Planner tools have helped hundreds of workshop and conference attendees hone their skills, and now you can learn how to take the fear out of plotting even if you can't attend one of her workshops. If you only buy one writing book this year, buy Blockbuster Plots!
    Melanie Rigney, former Writers Digest magazine editor

    How is that fabulous Block Buster Plot program going? If I get the chance to do another book, you will see me at the front of your class. Without your help plotting my book, Taking Aim at the President, I would not be published today.
    Geri Spieler, author of Taking Aim at the President

    Marvelous! Very helpful, practical, insightful, easy to use."
    James Scott Bell, award winning writer and Writers Digest fiction columnist.

    Writing's not easy. One of the hardest things to do well is write great plots. And because reading superbly plotted books isn't always enough to boost one's skills, Los Gatos author Martha Alderson offers a slew of ways to get your plot-lines flowing again. In addition to being the author of "Blockbuster Plots: Pure & Simple" Alderson also offers one-on-one plot consultations. You can contact her -- and keep up on local literary events, meetings, conferences, contests and retreats -- at her Web site.
    Santa Cruz Sentinel

    Don't have problems plotting? Think a book on characterization, theme, editing or synopsis might help your writing more? Do yourself a favor and don't dismiss Blockbuster Plots: Pure & Simple on the merits of title alone.
    True--the majority of the book focuses on plot, how to go about discovering the one hiding in your story and strengthening crucial details to help it become, well, the blockbuster plot you envision. But throughout the book, Alderson provides more than plotting activities--she also gives lots of insightful writing advice that help you think of ways to improve your story in different, dynamic ways.
    If plots aren't your cup of tea, or maybe if they are but you're willing to look at another interpretation of how to get more mileage from them for your story, Blockbuster Plots is an excellent place to start.
    BOOK REVIEW by Beth Morrow

    Confused about the basics of building a plot in a story? Martha Alderson's focus on how to produce a superior one applies to novels, memoirs and nonfiction alike, using scenes by contemporary writers from Twain to London to show how to create logical and substantial plots. Visual representation of scenes is the focus of a step-by-step workbook packed with tips on everything from character development and depth of story line to action and theme clarification. Any writer seeking to produce not just acceptable but superior works must have this guide.
    Midwest Book Review