NaNoWriMo Preparatory Workshop 2015-10-03: Story beat points and genres

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Slides: powerpoint slides.ppt

Stats

  • 25 participants

Intro (Sam M. - samcadams)

  • Chris Baty started this up in 1999. Now hundreds of thousands of novelists participate around the world.
  • Young Writers Program for younger people (up to age 17)
  • Everything is free
  • Rules have been relaxed
  • Main goal is to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days (at least 1667 words per day)
  • Go to nanowrimo.org to sign up, track your progress, receive pep talk e-mails, meet your fellow writers around the world
  • Set your region to USA :: Illinois :: Naperville
  • naperwrimo.org
  • write-ins:
    • a place to meet up and write; most have little games and such to help motivate people
  • Editing happens after November! Turn off your internal editor.
  • Facebook: https://facebook.com/NaperWriMo
  • Regional forum: http://nanowrimo.org/regions/usa-illinois-naperville
  • The Journey - year round cafeteria-style writing group that has social activities
  • Hipster PDA: http://hipsterpda.naperwrimo.org
    • references to websites
  • NaNo has many benefits: online forums, local events like write-ins
  • Kick-off Party - Saturday, Oct 24, 11:45 AM, Naperville Municipal Center
  • TGIO Party - Saturday, Dec 5, 11:45 AM, Naperville Municipal Center
  • There are prizes for those who validate

Plotters or Pantsers (Ann aka anastasia007)

  • Professional writer since 2007; one professional book (Get Hired)
  • This year is the fourth NaNo
  • You write the book that is coming out of your soul--there is no right or wrong.

Plotters

  • 3 Act Structure - most books, even trilogies, have this format
    • beginning/setup
    • middle/confrontation
    • end/resolution
  • This is like a GPS system to help you get back on track when you get lost in your writing
  • Plotters
    • consider and understand their characters
    • detail their novels with a beginning, middle and end
    • plan their story beats - conflicts and resolutions
  • Color code:
    • chapter markers
    • questions/clues
  • Norman Mailer - Harlot's Ghost
    • uses different color pens
    • circles
  • J K Rowling - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    • plotting by time - know when scenes are set
    • chapter title
    • plot
    • prophecy
    • other notes
    • Plotters plan out each chapter with beginning, middle and end
    • Keep readers interested
  • Advice for plotters
    • simple planning
    • complex plot structures
    • You could use these structures for each chapter
    • you can google and download these different structures
    • google "plot diagrams" - see images
    • there is a diagram for every writer
  • Writing groups can help you work out the details
  • Character worksheet
    • Facts
    • Behavior
    • Values
    • Driving force
    • Character change
  • Dan Wells has a five part youtube video about the 7 point plot structure
  • Sam has started a NaNo Planning Accountability Path - meeting first tomorrow in the Helen Plum Library in Lombard
    • like nano writers anonymous
  • Next weekend, Sam Brown are doing a different workshop; and in two weeks, Kat is doing a workshop on character development

Pantsers

  • Pantsers just start writing
  • "Don't come a knockin' unless the house is a rockin'" (if the house is on fire)
  • Pantsers have their novel story in their heads
  • The three "c" triangle: Content -> Conversation -> Consistency ->
  • Who, what, where
  • Conversation: think about dialog and characters
  • For rewrites, write yourself a note (in a different color) to set the scene in your head to help you avoid constantly re-reading your book
  • How many of you have written yourself into a corner?
  • Consistency -> Create 3 mile posts to help you find where you need to be if you get lost
    • what's your beginning?
    • what's your climax?
    • where will you end up?
  • Advice: when you start getting burned out, write your ending. Then bring things together. In rewrites you can change your world.
  • Try to finish your novel in November; it is easier to expand your novel afterwards.
  • Stephen King: "I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all of our reasonable precautions, ..."



  • Ann is doing two write-ins in Plainfield: Bag o' Doom: if you make your commitment
    • if you make your bag of doom, you'll get two prizes:
      • an emotion wheel - gives you alternate words
      • genre characteristics
    • On November 1st



  • Get your story out, don't worry about the 50,000 words

What's your beat? Story Beat Points

  • Basics of writing
  • Story beat points:
  • what is your beginning, your climax and story end?
  • how do your characters grow?
  • how do you keep your story interesting?
  • Should we do a prologue? Who cares?
  • Plot points
    • hook
      • unexpected guests arrive at Bilbo's door
    • pinch point 1
      • Bilbo meets Gollum / he has traveled part of the journey and grown
    • midpoint/pinch point 2
      • Elves; Bilbo helps free the dwarves
    • second plot point/climax
      • the dragon, battle of five armies
  • You can have more than one pinch point in the story
  • You want to keep your reader interested
    • character development
    • pace
    • plot points
  • Joseph Campbell's 17 stage monomyth (Hero with 1000 faces, part I)
    • separation
      • equilibrium - call to adventure
    • initiation
      • like the second act
    • return
      • freedom to live

Shows many plot points. You get to decide how to structure your novel. There is no right or wrong in the book.

E.g., Hemingway, Old Man and the Sea is about a guy in a boat.

  • Emotional Plot beats
    • Hero's Journey
      • call to adventure
      • refusal of the call
      • crossing into the other world
      • road of trials
      • the pit
      • acquiring the magic elixir (Bilbo acquires the Ring)
      • return to everyday world
      • moving on
    • Kubler-Ross (researchers creating stages of emotional impact on death)
      • shock
      • denial
      • anger
      • fear
      • depression
      • understanding
      • acceptance
      • moving on
  • If you don't include emotion in your novel, you won't get your reader.
  • Why are you crying? I just murdered my favorite character.
  • You can deal with things in your rewrite; this is your first draft.

Pace Beat Points

  • How quickly is a character introduced?
  • How quickly do events happen?
    • you can slow down the pace to work on character development
  • How snappy is your dialogue?
    • dialogue is difficult
    • doesn't have to be perfect the first time you write it.
    • lock up your inner editor in a cage; do not edit your book until you reach the end
    • write notes to yourself--sometimes you miss the emotion of it; if super emotional, highlight the first piece of the dialogue (there might not be any movement in your first draft; when you re-edit, you can remember the movement and emotion)
    • you could use different highlight colors for different emotions
    • write your dialogue however you feel comfortable; worry about how good it is December 1st
    • dialogue is about inflection
    • don't worry about the first draft feeling horrible
    • dialogue is not conversation; it is an artificial construct to convey information. See the workshop by Crystal Blount on dialogue from a few years ago.



  • Example of how not to do things:
    • forget to write down character names
    • lose track of a character that was introduced and disappears

Genre beat points

  • What are your favorite types of stories?
  • Write what you read (and read what you write) to get that feel you need.
    • mystery novels: you have to have clues
    • fantasy novels are adventures
  • The choice is up to you!
  • "I want to write a book that will sell"
    • slide of current types of subgenres
    • don't worry about whether your book will sell
    • don't worry about the sub-genre
    • there are publishers that will sell things
    • write the book; this is the last thing you have to worry about

Mechanics

  • Do you write in google docs? Word?
    • Android app squid on a phone with a stylus
    • whatever you feel comfortable with
    • some people use paper
    • Scrivener is available for free trial; and half price through nanowrimo

Breakout session Exercise

  • Write three simple sentences for three plot points in your story (beginning, middle, end)
  • Example: Gina is sick and tired of Peter; Peter is murdered; Gina find the murderer but her life is threatened.