Sunday, October 08, 2006

Day The Second

Today was very eventful. Morning session with Jennie Shortridge who discussed what to do in the first ten pages. Her talk was called the Ten Page Promise and her basic point was to hook the reader early. If you start with a lot of description and backstory you'll likely lose your reader before he or she gets to the hook. What really struck me as interesting was the questions coming from the audience. They had the most basic formatting and grammar questions. It was one of those moments where you sit back and realize that you do know a thing or two after all.

The next two sessions were separated by a long lunch where I had to go meet with a potential landlord and walk through a house we're probably going to rent. Both sessions were taught by Larry Brooks and were absolutely excellent. They made the whole weekend. His explanation of story architecture was one of the clearest I've heard, and like I just said, I know a thing or two about storytelling. If you get a chance to go to one of his longer seminars I would highly suggest it. He gave us the sixteen hour version crammed into about two hours.

What some people don't like, most notably the self proclaimed left-brained writer who walked out on him, is outlining and organizing their story. They want to just let it flow and see where their characters take them. This is wonderful but will often lead down paths that don't make for good novels. This is why we have to write so many drafts before we get it publishable. Notice I didn't say, 'get it right.' 'Right' is a subjective thing that can change from person to person but 'publishable' is pretty well established by the industry. (Like it or not.)

He got his ideas on stroy architecture from writing screenplays. Almost all good movies have very similar pacing. A hook in the first five minutes, a pivotal plot point at 22 to 26 minutes, a major event that changes the direction of the movie at the midway, and then another plot point at the 3/4 mark that announces the beginning of the resolution. There's a great deal more to it than this because the main character is also going through their transformation at the same time. If I think I can present the ideas in a more logical fashion, I just might. It's much easier to grasp when you can draw out a timeline.

The point is that this is a time tested structure that matches the way a person emotionally responds to a story. It also synchs up with another popular structure, the Hero's Journey. More on this later, kids need to go to bed now.

1 comment:

The Curmudgeon's Rant said...

It sounds like the conference was a worthwhile event. Next year I’ll have to make the trip across the pond and experience it for myself. Thanks for letting me live it through your eyes.

God bless!