Story Wall Party 2019

Story Wall Party (Sam)

  • slides
  • 16 people in attendance
  • Used to do story walls in the Journey every month (45 min to an hour)
  • This will be a quicker version
  • Give a quick description of your novel, run through your main characters, your basic idea.
  • Share where you might be stuck or struggling.
  • The small group will help you with brainstorming.

Prompt cards

  • Protagonist
  • Antagonist
  • Support characters
  • 1-3 cards summarizing your story
  • Cards with your brainstorming questions/prompts


  • 5 minutes for story
  • 15 minutes for brainstorming session
  • One volunteer (not the author) who can scribe
  • One volunteer to keep track of time within the group


  • four or less

Advice on brainstorming

  • Stay focused on the author's objective
  • Keep it to one person talking at a time
  • Be respectful to everyone's input; there are no dumb ideas; don't criticize other peoples ideas
  • "Yes, and" (as in improv)
  • Keep an open mind
  • Think quantity over quality
  • Be mindful of the time
  • Have fun

YA Group

  • Jim Ronan - elementary teacher for 34 years; retired a few years back. This is my first venture
  • Liz - SAHM, freelance writing; two ideas (1 10 years ago; new idea)
  • Leslie (from 9 years ago) - professional organizer
  • Tim - Fantasy/YA


  • 1966 Freshman in HS
  • First year of the school (Montini)
  • Went out for football; there was a small freshman player.
  • First time I saw him, I thought this kid would get killed out there. I told other guys, don't hit him.
  • Only knew a few guys there.
  • Not a true story, but ...
  • Small kid had Leukemia; after 3-4 practices, coaches made him the first manager in Montini HS history
  • Not best friends, but teammates; conversations stuck with me.
  • One event I won't forget: he and I were sitting at the concrete steps there. He asked: what is it like to be on the field playing football? Lesson learned: never take for granted what you have (what you love, what you enjoy, what you're good at).
  • Second part: dealing with cancer
  • For a long time, parents didn't even tell him what he had.
  • Spoke with his older (10+ year) brother and sister. John didn't know a lot. Towards the end, he realized it.
  • Lack what happened, but will fill it in.
  • Sophomore year/last birthday party in November before the season ended.
  • Celebrated with him in the hospital. Best birthday party he had had in his life.
  • I remember he coming to the last game in an ambulance to watch the game. Other teammates don't remember it.
  • John passed away April 1968, died the day after Martin Luther King was killed.
  • When they built the varsity stadium (opened fall of 1968), it was named John L. Duffy Memorial Stadium (everyone felt chilld)
  • Good for kids to know who John L. Duffy is.


  • What does the protagonist struggle with
    • insecurity
    • current issues (guns and violence weren't an issue in 1966)?
    • want to keep the historical setting, but have thought about making it more current to deal with issues kids deal with today
  • First date
  • First kiss
  • First love
  • Protagonist does stupid things; JOhn helps him be more mature about life
  • Historical events from 1966-1968
    • Vietnam, Music, MLK , Civil Rights
  • Ending: 1968? Or impact he had on us as we grew older
  • Set up the novel
    • older man; high school kids have a conversation at a Friday Night football game
    • or a 1966 story third person
  • First person vs third person POV?
  • Why is the field named the way it is? The man telling the story could be that friend. Almost lends itself to third person, but try writing it both ways.
  • Time period
    • How we treat Leukemia now is very different (They didn't talk about it then)
    • Including some of the unrest to make a statement about the cultural divide (beginning of the great white flight).
  • Epilogue: introduce yourself and why you wrote the book
  • Antagonist: one of the football players was extra mean?
    • Cancer is an antagonist, the slow process, watching John get sicker, sicker and sicker
    • I don't remember anyone being a bully, but maybe someone makes fun of the way he looks (he went through physical changes). Could be a teammate
    • John is fighting cancer.
  • Time period: you should keep it to that time period. Kids these days can identify with a lot of the stuff (insecurity, dealing with hard topics)
  • First thought was to give a story specifically true about John, but there are too many missing pieces (school records from Montini, medical records); so probably won't be too accurate.
  • Reunion group still goes out to a football game.
  • John was limited in what he was able to do; and even in his maturity, he had a lot of kid-like mentality.
  • Maybe he might not have been interested in girls.
  • West end zone, a headstone monument was dedicated in our first varsity season (1968); most people probably don't realize what it is.
  • Bronze statues -- would be nice to have one there with the dimensions of John next to that marker.
  • Conflicts? Could do a perspective view within the family (how things are happening at home vs. at school).
    • One of the parents.
    • Use dramatic irony to set up tension in the scene (what the reader knows is different from what the characters in a scene know).


  • Two ideas
    • 10 years ago: time traveling YA, 18 years old sent to Paris (thought her mom died 10 years ago, but not exactly); she refuses to go to college, dad sends her to live with her grandmother. Charlotte Corday was known for killing Marat (thought she would end the revolution). She lives in 2005 (riots in Paris) and time traveling to the French revolution.
      • WHY is she time traveling? She's trying to escape her own life. She loses agency with Charlotte; she doesn't want her to kill Marat (won't change anything). By then, she knows that is what history shows.
      • She realizes her mom was trying to do the best things for her. She ends up meeting someone who knew her mom when she moved to Paris. Fair access to jobs for immigrants; many would change their names to find jobs.
    • French revolutionary influences, but YA magical realism. 1600-esque France princess sent to live with her grandmother's house (with her mother the Queen). She discovers a magical tree and realizes that butterflies were fairies; frogs appeared out of mud. Magical creatures. She has the sight to help them. They are fighting for the ability to harness the magic, growing plants on our side, granting wishes with them on their side. Bees/bats are trying to take magic for themselves, causing a draught. BUT I don't know where that conflict leads.
  • Both are missing conflict.
  • Worldbuilding is huge. Maria -- realized that caterpillars turned into butterflies; before then, they thought they were birds that appeared in summer. And that frogs came out of the mud. In both, the world building is important. Was contrasting 1790s with 2005.
  • I have a diary that is completely fictional; there are paintings of the act. Why would she think that killing this one guy would change the course of the revolution? Anne Marie gets stuck in the past for a while.
    • time travel comes from the diary; she might be related to the family (not direct descendant)
    • how much can you change of history
  • Damaged by the loss of her mother, she wants to heal, it could happen in her own mind (she can be tough and explore those feelings of anger and fighting back).
  • While time traveling back, perhaps the other lady can help her come to grips with the relationship with her own mom.
  • Maybe Charlotte is a time traveler; and Ann Marie is trying to go back to save her because she needs her knowledge to save her Mom.
  • What if Charlotte is actually Ann Marie's mom in disguise (from before Ann Marie is conceived), trying to change history.
  • Mushrooms can connect trees.
  • Book refs (historical with time travel)
    • Honus and Me -- about baseball players (Honus Wagner's baseball card now sell for over 1M USD)
    • Jackie and Me -- Jackie Robinson; a kid could travel back in time, talking what Jackie might face as a black athlete.
    • Babe and me -- meets Adolf Hitler at a baseball game
  • Should there be other magical elements beyond time travel? In Paris there are Catacombs; should it influence her ability to time travel? There are bones there from the 1700s (how they buried people, because they died like crazy because of the revolution).
  • What if Ann Marie needs something from her Mom to travel back; and the first time she goes back, she finds her Mom (Charlotte) has been executed.
  • If you don't want to change history, maybe her mom is connected as a sister or cousin. Maybe they choose not to participate in the execution.
  • She has a child taken from her when she's young. Lived in a convent for a while (had a baby).
    • Maybe the baby is Ann Marie's mom, which is why she wants to save Charlotte.
  • You can take fiction to teach history to kids.
  • Maybe Ann Marie's mom sacrifices herself to save Charlotte


  • working title: One Person's Trash
  • protagonist = Izzy, 4th grade girl who lives in a hoarded home with her Mom (antagonist)
  • Husband has stopped coming home
  • Another character: At school library (battle of the books coach)
  • Supporting characters: children
    • boy named Bradley = best friend
  • Fourth grade girls shouldn't have to push piles out of the way to sleep on the corner of a couch with her Mom
  • This girl is figuring out this isn't how life should be
  • When Izzy tries to talk with her Mom, it leads to problems
  • Dad's leaving makes things even worse
  • Battle of the Books -> increases likelihood of exposing Izzy's secret life
  • Society's opinion of her Mom's behavior


  • When tragedy strikes and people find out (this is how hoards are discovered and reported)
    • Maybe Izzy has food allergies, her Mom isn't attentive and she needs medical attention (emergency people can't come in)
    • or another parent comes over and discovers this
  • Little by little
    • Best friend realizes
    • Someone else brings it to the attention
  • social services tells her to clean up but her Mom has a mental illness
  • Walks to school, bathing there, someone catches her.
  • Use dramatic irony
    • third parties are discussing Izzy
    • lots of near misses of discovery
    • eventually, someone starts to put the pieces together
  • Maybe there is a case of hoarding resulting in the family being torn apart
    • they discuss this at school
    • Izzy feels miserable but has to hide her reaction
  • Promoting battle of the books is really strong
    • someone invites Izzy over, she sees what their house is like
    • she realizes at the battle house
  • Izzy has various guards up; someone has to see through the stories.
  • Society's awareness now for hoarding is different (there are tv shows)
  • You could set this at an earlier time when the awareness isn't
  • When they get the social worker in there, and a professional organizer; but what about the child?
    • Everyone thinks the problem is solved
    • Happy ending is that she is getting the help she needs
    • Dad might have some awareness--it's not just mess
  • Does Izzy tell Dad that things are getting worse?
    • Dad drives her home but she doesn't want him to come in
  • Dad leaves the family because of other problems, not just direct hoarding.
  • Kid may want to tell the Dad, but Mom has manipulated Izzy not to do this
  • Do they tell the kid not to say anything because it would hurt them?
    • Kid usually is blamed for the mess
    • the child will believe it is her fault
  • With the father, if she spends time with him, how does he live? Is this a way to realize her Mom is off?
  • Somewhere there has to be a blow-up or panic that the hoarding causes--it has to come out. Mom can't find her car keys for the battle of the books.
    • Maybe the mom is deliberately sabotaging Izzy with the battle of the book
      • Yes, Moms hoard the kids too.



Giovanna - daughter

Detta tries to survive as an imaginary characters.

Teen Katerina teaches her to traverse the dreams.

Dreams from people around you are closer. Access dreams from would-be parents

Dream Keeper - has ability to dissipate the lost and abandoned dreams.

Katerina really wants family that no longer visits her in dreams. She gets to know her parents through their lost dreams, like older lost dreams from childhood.

Detta has mixed motives and loyalties. Selfish as a character.

Story arc? Where to begin?

Dreamkeeper erasing a memory to show the world.

Katerina appears at different ages - it’s nebulous. Think of her as a young adult. Appears at different ages.

Pick an age for her to be in novel, and then perhaps remember different ages?

Internal emotional age will be represented in physical form. Correspondence between her and Giovanna. At one point, she’s younger than Giovanna because her world is paused. Around age 6, she stops talking about Detta. Develop terminology for different ages - dream ages, novel age, etc. Leslie says “developmental age”: what age they “act”

Psychologist Piaget - have to go through different stages. Certain ages can’t think in abstract terms. Certain ages don’t understand lies.

Risks that Katerina will face?

Is it possible for her to live forever? Can she manifest in reality? As she goes through parent’s dreams, she begins to interact them… parents come out of the dream having another child. Serious enough that it succeeds, but they have a boy. It’s a death knell. She’s really starting to fade now.

Final twist: the keeper of dreams, she’s strong enough to live in dream world. Live forever as dreams. Perhaps becomes a keeper of the lost dreams… instead of dissolving them, she has them revive by having the dreamer recover their lost dreams.

What if Detta became a part of her family?

Picture Detta like a pet or puppy running around.

What if baby brother comes up with an imaginary friend, like Detta?

POV. omniscient first person perspective, but not naming the narrator til the very end. It ends up being the Keeper.

What are some of the lost dreams? Wants them to be interesting, maybe sad, etc.

Fear of being left alone

Careers not achieved

Wife’s lost dream: she was alone

Parents losing their kids. Accident?

Mistakes that people make and can’t go back and fix.

Wanting to live vicariously through their kids…. Drum line. Volleyball.

Lost loves.