I am pleased to welcome a new feature for my blog, the weekend workshop. This little idea was born out of a fortuitous collection of events that happened to come together for me this week. A) I was noticing people really like to read about the craft of writing in my blog. B) I pledged to myself I would start working on my craft by getting a book from library each time on craft as well as one for research. Then finally C) I was going to lay down with my kiddo one afternoon and needed something to read. I grabbed the second from the top book from my box o’ books (long story) and settled in with it. The book turned out to be Story Sense by Paul Lucey. I’ve had this book for eons, it was assigned reading for a script writing class I enrolled in back in my early twenties but which I promptly dropped when the prof dissed Robert Altman in the first class. What can I say I was young and idealistic. Anyway, I never got around to reading the book.
I am reading it now and in the opening section the author suggests one spend one week per chapter as to really digest the information and ones time with the writing exercises. So I will be doing that here. Saturday I will summarize the chapter. Sunday I will answer the exercises in my blog. If this turns out to be something we all enjoy, I will continue the process after this book but for now let’s consider this a 12 week experiment.
So Chapter One: Selecting An Idea
-a simple plot which puts interesting characters through complicated situations.
-use dramatic contrast to create tension(s) and reveal your characters
-think carefully about your audience, you don’t have to cater to them but a children’s book that ends darkly, isn’t the best combination, for example.
-provoke an emotional response
-adapt stories by changing the characters, the location, the time line, or give it a fresh emotional thrust or perspective.
-truth is stranger than fiction, we’ve all heard that. So use it, peruse news stories or even reality shows for that kernel of the bizarre you can build a story on.
-pay attention to the people around you. Invent story lines for them. Ask what if? Add a new character to your gallery each month so they are there waiting to tell their story when you need them.
-It might be a worth wild exercise to figure out which archetype your story is destined to follow; the Hero(brave souls who take on a dangerous task), the Buddy(two friends against the world), the Impossible Quest(noble adventure), Breaking Away(old order must submit to the new), Medea(independent woman), or Faustian(the extremes to which people will go to get what they want).
Somerset Maugham said there were only three rules for writing a novel but unfortunately no one knows what they are. Let’s figure them out together.