Come enjoy the last The Writer’s Center – Leesburg session of 2016! This Friday, November 4, we will be joined by Art Taylor, professor at George Mason University, for a workshop on how to bring your characters to life on the page. It is sure to be an enjoyable event, not to mention a fantastic opportunity to give your work that extra pizzazz!
In case you missed our October 7th session, here are the highlights:
The Writer’s Center - Leesburg hosted Khris Baxter,
screen writer and co-founder of Boundary Stone Films, for a fabulous session on using strategies from film making to inform other writing, particularly narrative non-fiction and commercial or genre fiction. Khris carried over two basic ideas from screenwriting: the importance of structure, which is essential to scripts, and the writing of good dramatic scenes.
With regard to structure, Khris said he is baffled by the
all-too-frequent lack of structure in writing, which he said
undermines a reader’s trust in the story. His advice is to start the story early with the catalyst for the action, the “inciting incident” which prompts the main character to do something. Don’t start too early with what is essentially backstory; context and character can be filled in later. Writers must set up a tension that will compel their readers to keep following the story. Khris also discussed plot points, around which the structure turns and where “the stakes get raised.” He
advised looking at court dramas, such as The Verdict, for models of how plot points play into structure. He also stressed the importance of letting characters reach their lowest point, or nadir, and then giving them enough of a last gasp to reach the end.
1: Start story early
2: Set up tension
3: Use plot points
4: Let characters reach their nadir
Khris portrayed scenes as the heart of any story, the place where the reader is most engaged and cares about the characters. He stressed specificity over summary and warned against writing unnecessary prose (even beautiful, literary prose) which might hold up the story. He also provided a thorough checklist for writing scenes, at the top of which was the need for each scene to have a purpose. Writers should
ask what a scene is doing. How does it function as a plot device and move the story forward? How does it develop characters?
Khris punctuated his presentation with remarks on adapting books to the screen. He noted that the dearth of available content for film today is prompting film companies to option books, treatments (extensive outlines for scripts), proposals, and even articles. He suggested that writers may want to take a shot at adapting their own projects to scripts, which might give further insights into scene and structure.
The Writer’s Center - Leesburg Committee offers events the first Friday of every month except for December, January, July, and August. Events are held at the Leesburg Town Hall, 25 W. Market St., Leesburg,VA 20176.