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NaNoWriMo Preparatory Workshop #1: Novel Stone Soup

A flexible method for a successful NaNoWriMo

on 16 May 2017

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Transcript of NaNoWriMo Preparatory Workshop #1: Novel Stone Soup

The Stone Soup method for a successful NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo basics
sign up!
create your profile
write! (Nov 1-30)
track your
NaNoWriMo forums
Reference Desk
Plot doctoring
helpful sites
nano technology
... and many more!
validate before midnight on December 1st
Your source of local event information
preparatory workshops
Library Crawl
TGIO / kick-off parties
NaNoWriMo hipster PDA
NaNoWriMo basics
Novel fundamental ingredients
Effective endings
writer's journal
reading books
talking with writers
living life!
sequence of events
character's reaction to events
protagonist's emotional journey
Dorothy’s sorrow when Toto is taken from her, the distress she feels when she realizes her house has landed on a witch, her fear of both the witch and the wizard, her sadness at having to leave her new friends, and—most important—the moment when she discovers the story’s theme that she has the power to solve her own problems.
Story elements from the Wizard of Oz
How the story is told

Causality of events

Selection of plot elements to tell the story--what do you focus on? What is the pacing?
Stone Soup
Does your story idea excite you?
Novelist E.M. Forster defines story as the chronological sequence of events and plot as the causal and logical structure which connects events
The king died and then the queen died (story).
The king died and then the queen died of grief (plot).
Kurt Vonnegut - the Shape of Stories
Kurt Vonnegut - The Shape of Stories (2)
Christopher Booker - 7 Basic Plots
three acts
: 1) Conflict, 2) Climax, and 3) Resolution
Sonata form
: a "fast" movement, a "slow" movement, and another "fast" movement
: end where you began
: multiple, seemingly independent narrative threads that come together at the end
: multiple perspectives on a single event, each one adding something different (and often contradictory) to the telling
: the final scene is actually halfway through the timeline, so the structure is an alternance of chapters set before it (in chronological order) and chapters set after it (in reverse order).
: Start just before the climax and work backwards through flashbacks.
: Work with multiple characters who both start and end together but break apart in the middle.
Frame narrative -
a "story within a story." For example, your main plot is actually a story being told around a campfire or reported to paranormal investigator, etc.
Plot structures
Story (continued)
Stories contain everything that the novel explicitly shows the reader as well as material that the reader infers
The film society Pacific Cinematheque says, “story is about trying to determine the key conflicts, main characters, setting and events … and should be concerned with the questions of ‘who’, ‘what,’ and ‘where.’” It looks as if story is chronological and it encompasses all the events, settings, and characters within a story-world. Story exists without judgment like a chronological history, it’s as Cheryl Klein said: “what happens.”
Exercise 1: Generation of plot for a story
Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
The Quest
Voyage and Return
Plot-driven [movies] must have enough character development to show how things change for them. Similarly, character-driven stories must have enough plot to give the characters a reason to change. -- Jami Gold
Plot-driven vs. character-driven stories
Memorable Characters
Engaging setting
A meaningful ending
Characteristics of good endings
Balance the inevitability of the ending with the agency of the characters (characters reap what they sow but they can still change the outcome). Be very aware of what the character’s actions are leading them towards and what the reader thinks of them and what they deserve. What would be a fulfilling ending based on that.
- Stephanie H.
of the reader's questions; don't cut them off cold. It is okay to end on a question.
Avoid setting up reader expectations too explicitly and too early; your endings then would lack an emotional punch
Endings (continued)
Does the character arc feel natural at the ending?
Sometimes endings go against reader expectations but are accepted because they still make sense within the framework of the story.
Tie up loose ends
Avoid heavy-handed, moralistic endings
Know the point of your story
How to fit your ending within the 30 days of NaNoWriMo
Don't get lost in the worldbuilding
Slim down your plot threads to their essential core
Do a mid-way review of the story arc (see where the character arc is going). Should have a good feel for the ending by then. Start to plan and move towards that in the second half.
Consider "bookend-ing" the novel by revisiting a symbol/theme/scene from the beginning of the novel in the ending
Character arc in a story (Dan Harmon)
Genres come with reader expectations: e.g., fantasy -> explain things up front; science fiction -> can explain things later.
Be consistent with reader expectations; don't change things up halfway through the novel.
Can combine genres.
Underlying message the author wants to convey
unifying or central concept of a story
what's important to you as an author
Could be seen as part of your writer's voice
If you don't care about your characters, your reader won't.
The Journey - writingjourney.org
NaperWriMo - naperwrimo.org - this is where the presentation will be posted
Exercise 2: Brainstorm a setting for the story
list some characteristics
identify where (some) plot points will take place
how do you make it memorable
how do you make the setting appropriate to that story
Exercise 3: Brainstorm a narrative for the plot
Exercise 4: Brainstorm an ending for your story
Which plot elements do you include?
What emotional impacts do they convey?
What genre(s) are involved?
21 Plot Shapes and the Pros and Cons of Each, Mette Ivie Harrison (http://tinyurl.com/21plotshapes)
Story, Plot and Narrative (Not the Same Thing), Boon Cotter (http://tinyurl.com/story-plot-narrative)
Narrative Structures, Rebecca Ray (http://tinyurl.com/narrative-structures)
Plot and narrative: the twin rails of the novel, Caro Clarke (http://tinyurl.com/plot-narrative)
Keys to Great Endings, Crista Rucker (http://tinyurl.com/keys-endings)
TO PLOT OR NOT TO PLOT: Part 3 – Got Plot? Ingrid Sundberg (http://tinyurl.com/to-plot-part3)
Keys to Great Endings - Crista Rucker
- plot your novel so that every scene reflects how the novel should end
ensure that the characters' actions create the ending--every action should foreshadow the final choice
ensure the novel actually ends -- finalize something in the novel, even if it is part of a series
ensure that change occurs by the end
don't end by chance--avoid the Deus ex Machina
Seven point plot structure
Hook - initial state of the main character
Plot Turn I - call to adventure
Pinch I - apply pressure
Midpoint - character(s) move from reaction to action
Plot Turn II - something horrible happens
Pinch II - the plan fails
Resolution - satisfying ending (final state for MC)
A boy on the cusp of manhood
survives adventures and the
death of his mentor to play a
critical role in a rebellion.
Plot is

happens, narrative is
the story is told.

Narrative filters the plot to create an experience for the reader; what the reader sees and hears of what happens.

Organizes a chain of events with a beginning, middle, and end, and embodies a judgement about the nature of those events.
setting should serve the story:
fit the tone, themes
create mood
meet or subvert genre expectations
ground story in a realistic environment
Another way to look at it:
7 magnificent plot points
back story - what haunts the main character
catalyst - what gets the character moving
big event - changes the character's life
midpoint - the point of no return
crisis - low point forcing a key decision
climax - final showdown
realization - character has changed
Example: Star Wars
back story: rebellion in the stars; a young man far from the action longs to be a pilot
catalyst: he sees a plea for help in R2-D2's projection
big event: his family is killed; his home destroyed
midpoint: his ship is captured by the Deathstar
crisis: his mentor is killed
climax: he is part of a very small force attempting to destroy the Deathstar
realization: he is awarded a medal as a hero of the rebellion
Primary and sub-plots
Point of View
Voice (word choice, style)
Pacing (show vs tell)
Format: linear, non-linear, diary, epistolary....
Draw a map--identify important places
Browse pinterest, tumblr, or flickr for inspiration
Use concrete details
Include all senses
What format would best reveal the story events and their connections?
What point of view will you use?

Setting includes:
Places (a house, a room, a church)
Cities, countries, worlds
The Snowflake Method
Plotter vs. Pantser
use index cards
on your wall
Exercise 1
back story
big event
A boy on the cusp of manhood
survives adventures and the
death of his mentor to play a
critical role in a rebellion.
A young woman meets a man she likes, but family and societal forces interfere with her romance
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