THE NOVELIST’S TOOLKIT:
Architecture, Archetypes, Arcs
Are you stuck crafting plot or character, or forging the connections between them? Most successful stories (from novels and movies to stageplays and myths) are built on a powerful tool: the Three-Act structure. Our seminar will explore how this “road map” may create or revise a framework for your unique plot, from grabber beginning to satisfying resolution.
The Three-Act architecture can help you identify your novel’s weak links—pinpointing events that keep your story on track and your fascinating protagonist at dead center. Against this backdrop, you’ll learn how to lay (and exploit) your characters’ motivations, conflicts, and goals.
How well do you know the purpose and function of your cast? In lively hands-on sessions, we’ll contrast fixed stereotypes with the rich diversity, credibility, and depth of archetypes—universal beings capable of growth. As your characters become springboards to a compelling plot, you’ll form (or transform) your complete story arc.
VISION and VOICE:
Make Yours Distinctive
Voice is a story element that editors, agents, and other readers seek, yet may find it challenging to define. Questions we’ll explore at the workshop include:
Does the elusive “strong voice” mean rhythm, personality, attitude, writing style, or all of these combined? Is voice the illusion of a character speaking, instead of the author writing? Can writers achieve the most compelling voice only through first-person narrative? How do we recognize a distinctive literary voice, and create an authentic one in our fiction?
Marion Dane Bauer notes in our homework page: “All the craft in the world won’t give you a story that touches your readers’ hearts. That story must begin with a vision from your own heart... What themes and story-situations do you find yourself returning to, again and again, in your writing?... Did [the story you’re writing now] come with a rush of energy? Is the energy holding throughout your writing? If it did, that’s your clue about where your own best story lies.”