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An update from the thirty-third Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday March 26, plus some of the output published below

Last week, Conner gave us the choice to select the final topic of the winter session workshops from a number of options, and we chose this: How to Outline a Novel. To begin, we discussed the importance of characters in outlining a novel and how every outline should begin with the personality and desire of our characters. One technique for establishing the personality and desire of our characters was to ask ourselves various questions/prompts to answer in the voices of our characters. The next step was setting/place. One technique for creating setting was eliminating characters and story and writing only about place for thirty minutes, trying the best we can to inhabit the place. The next step was establishing the story/the conflict. A few of the prompts for establishing conflict were as follows: write scenes wherein the character receives bad news, wherein the character has to make a decision (big or small), wherein the character commits a minor crime, and wherein the character has an awkward conversation with a friend or family member. We then discussed the three act structure. We learned that the first act consists of setting the story in motion by establishing character and setting and establishing conflict through the "inciting incident," or the scene in the story that sets the conflict in motion. In the second act, we raise the stakes and increase the action, which could be looked at as a sequence of the hero/protagonist failing then suffering, failing then suffering, until they reach the "point of no return," and act two ends with the protagonist gaining clarity about their dilemma. As an example, we looked at the Lion King, establishing the inciting incident as Scar's murder of Mufasa and the point at which the protagonist, Simba, gains clarity as when Simba has a vision of Mufasa telling him that he is the true king. Finally, we looked at the third and final act, which consists of two parts: the final conflict, the climax, or a battle between want and need, and the resolution.

The Challenge: Either 1) Complete the get-to-know-your-character exercises, 2) Write one scene to establish conflict, or 3) Outline an entire novel.

The Participants: Amelia, Penelope, Emma, Sophia, Nova, Gwynne, Lina, Josh, Quinn, Ellie, Samantha, Chelsea, Amber, Alice

To watch more readings from this workshop, like Ellie's below, click here

Ellie, 9


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