Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Santa Clarita Schmooze on Story Structure

Lisa Gail Green, author of SOUL CROSSED, filled us in on the many ins and outs of plotting in this month's schmooze.  Her informative and fun talk - along with diagrams! - walked us through tips for how to plot using the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, the Hero's Journey and Lisa's own plotting style.  

Blake Snyder, author of SAVE THE CAT, is a screenwriting guru, but his 15 point roadmap applied heartily to plotting a book.  We learned that opening a book and opening a movie are similar in that both require an "opening image" or promise to the reader.  In other words, readers need to get a sense of what the story will be via not just image, but by tone, voice, rhythm.  And Lisa pointed out that it's important to remember the Rule of 3's on every page  - or the the Three D's  - dialogue, internal dialogue and description.  

From there Lisa spoke about Joseph Campbell's HERO'S JOURNEY.  She reminded us that this map typically applies to fantasy but many of the elements in the HJ apply to writing any genre.  Every great hero will have a call to adventure of some kind and will likely have to face an ordeal before she "returns"(or learns or understands something that takes her to a higher plane of some kind) at the end of the story.  This is especially true in children's books.

Last, but not least, Lisa shared with us her own "hero's journey" or plotting process and not surprising her approach combines the best of Campbell and Snyder, along with other teachers she's studied like James Scott Bell's PLOT AND STRUCTURE.  Lisa's own approach followed the climbing arc where every time a hero faces a challenge, they rise above only to face a more difficult challenge the next time until the story crescendos in a intense climax.  

Lisa, a self-confessed pantser (or someone who writes by the seat of her pants) shared that plotting is important - however - there is no right -write way - ha!  Just write!

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