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15 Nov

WHAT DOES HE FEEL? WHAT DOES HE DO?

First, figure out what is the next thing that happens in your story.  This is the next beat, or the next plot point, as your protagonist struggles to achieve his or her goal or desire, and to avoid his or her problems.  Usually, the protagonist will fail, and more than once, before the climax of a story. […]

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02 Mar

TRAPPED!

We talk a lot about how problems and conflict make a story more exciting.  For this week’s assignment, I want you to trap your protagonist in a confining space.  Depending on your taste or your story, it could be a refrigerator, a closet, a trunk, a jail cell, a car trunk, an elevator, a port-a-potty, […]

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07 Oct

DESIRES AND OBSTACLES

As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”  This is excellent advice, as characters who don’t want anything, who are bored, complacent, or satisfied with their lives, make for dull stories. But what if that thirsty character simply goes over to the sink and fills […]

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20 Sep

ONE DAY

This week in writing workshop, you did a lot of thinking and dreaming about your story.  Hopefully, you now have a fledgling idea for character and a story, or maybe you feel sure of what you want to write about.  Whatever your state of mind, you still have the same problem.  How do you begin? […]

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02 Jun

FILL IT UP WITH YOURSELF

This week, in class, I asked you to: 1) Identify the emotion the protagonist was feeling in your story’s next scene. 2) Write about a real moment from your own life when you felt that same emotion. 3) Write your story’s next scene using some of the your own real feelings, thoughts, visceral details from […]

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04 Apr

INTERVIEWING YOUR PROTAGONIST

“It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” – William Faulkner This week in workshop, I asked […]

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02 Feb

MINING YOUR TRUTH

All fiction, whether it be realistic or fantastical, originates from something true in the author.  You may not be aware of this connection when you begin a story; in fact, I think it’s best if you don’t think about it when you’re starting out, so you don’t get scared off. At a certain point in […]

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20 Jan

THE MIND OF THE ANTAGONIST

In fiction, the antagonist is the opponent or enemy of the protagonist, but that doesn’t mean the antagonist is purely evil or bad.  In fact, it’s much more interesting for your story if you can get to know your antagonist as a complex, deep character, rather than a simple enemy.  In order to develop this […]

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24 Sep

IN MEDIAS RES

Today we learned about in medias res, a literary technique where the author begins the story in the middle of the action, rather than beginning at the beginning.  We looked at five examples of novels that begin in medias res: Everything You Need to Know to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss, All the Right […]

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10 Jun

SINS

Choose one of the “deadly sins,” which are lust, sloth, rage, gluttony, jealousy, greed, and pride.  Shame also works well.  Write a scene where your main character is feeling one of those “sins” in a big way!  Think about how to express the feeling in metaphor or concrete detail. Show the feeling, don’t tell the […]

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