Monthly Archives: August 2015

August Critique Meeting

Today we critiqued two pieces, one a short story and the other two scenes of a novel.

The short story is coming along very well, and the interspersed sentient thoughts of the saviours has been done very well.  The story now moves into the stage of defining the climax and resolution, and enlarging on the furry character (MC).  It is a very heart-felt piece of work, and encompasses wide-ranging and topical earth issues.

The two scenes of the novel needed more care with the ’cause and effect’ syndrome and more clarity with the voice of the character – and to avoid overwriting the setting.  Not too bad, but we can all improve on first (2nd, 3rd, . . .) drafts, can’t we?

We also discussed, at length, the depth of character required for the story to be absorbed by the reader.  As a group, we act as first readers to the work of the other members, and we (mostly) have decided that a critical element of story is that the character be deep enough, real enough, for a reader to have total connection from the first few words of the story.

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August toolbox – Structure

– and outlines.

A story is built and structured from a plan and blueprint, just as a house is built into a structure from an initial plan and blueprint (and as we all should probably know, sometimes these plans change as the building emerges, and sometimes houses are built without plans at all).  Then we build the foundation, which consists of the heavy material, the research, the detail required, that holds the weight and height and depth.  The foundation is the beginning of structure.  It is the strength that will hold the story together until the end (or at least the strength that will hold the attention of the reader).

The next stage is the outline:

The outline of the story lists the main char’s goal, the catalyst event, the challenges that escalate the situation (what happens and why the char fails to surmount the challenge), MC (Main Character) revelation moment, then the climax and resolution. A good outline will list all the events and their impact on the MC character journey, then the writer will smooth it all out, turning notes and statements into full sentences, helping them flow into paragraphs.

Summarise every chapter, one by one.  Start with chapter 1, and write 3-4 direct statements about what happens to MC in the chapter, focusing only on the main actions and central chars.

And the purpose of a synopsis (which should be done before the story, but sometimes writers do this part way through, or even at the end of the first draft):

To encapsulate the main plot and MC/s arc, with the following points (should take about 2-3 pages):

What the MC needs/wants to achieve (goal);

What threatens MC enough to kick-start the story (inciting incident);

What steps are taken to achieve the goal (struggle);

What challenges are overcome to get there (conflict).

 

From the synopsis (sometimes from the outline, if it has enough detail), a scene summary or chapter summary is written which encapsulates the plot points, the escalation from Act One to Act Two, the catharsis and wrap up of Act Three, and the moments that reveal, create suspense, or show growth (or devolution).

 

A story is a character (person) struggling (plot) to resolve a conflict. The four necessary elements are:

Plot + character + conflict + structure building towards a resolution.

 

It’s never goodbye – it’s always ‘Good writing!’

 

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