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WHAT’s YOUR STORY?<br />By Nichole mcgill<br />27 January 2011<br />Ottawa Independent Writers AGM<br />
Tonight!<br />WHAT<br />WHY<br />WHAT SPECIFICALLY<br />WHO <br />WHAT EXACTLY<br />10 FRAMES<br />But first…<br />
“A CAUTIONARY TALE”aka “HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL”<br />
<ul><li>Short story collection?
Novel?
Film?
TV – Movie of the week?
Producer?</li></ul>What was the heart?<br />ONCE UPON A TIME, I had a…<br /> !<br />
Tell the truth even If no one believes you<br />shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.<br />
<ul><li>Novel!
First person!
Young adult!
Thriller!
Hero: Suspicious!
Wants: Independence!
Needs: Tell the truth!
Arc!</li></ul>New purpose<br />
On writing: “Camilla vs. YANN” <br />headlights<br />Plots, plots, plots<br />
recommend: Both <br />“voice”, flavour<br />Action, engaged reader<br />
1. WHat?<br />Type / Format<br />Genre<br />Message<br />What happens (one sentence)<br />Who is your main character<br />...
1. WHat?<br />Novel (200 pages)<br />Young adult, thriller<br />Telling the truth<br />Logline:<br />A teenage girl who mi...
A word @ Loglines<br /><ul><li>Writing a good logline is an art
It will transform
This is your pitch: test this with strangers and friends
“What are you writing?”</li></ul>“I’m writing a YA novel about a teenage girl <br />who takes on a stalker by herself”<br ...
1. WHAT ABOUT YOU?<br />Type / Format<br />Genre<br />Message<br />What happens (one sentence)<br />Who is your main chara...
2. WHY?<br /><ul><li>Inspiration
Moral
One message</li></ul>Your message will dictate your ending.<br />Your ending will dictate the entire story.<br />
MORAL for Girl #3<br /><ul><li>“The Girl Who Cried Wolf”
Importance of telling the truth</li></ul>Ending = transformative action<br />Story = tension<br />***<br />Ending = she ha...
2. WHY– YOUR TURN<br />Why are you writing what you are writing?<br /><ul><li>Inspiration
Moral
One message</li></ul>Your message will dictate your ending.<br />Your ending will dictate the entire story.<br />
3. What EXACTLY?<br />The WHY drives this:<br />Type / Format<br />Genre<br />Message<br />What happens (one sentence)<br ...
YOU CAN’T FOOL THE READER<br />If it doesn’t ring true for you, it won’t ring true to your readers<br />
4. WHo: GOOD guy/GAL<br />The Protagonist (#1)<br />(aka The Hero/Heroine/Main Character)<br />What does my main character...
4. Who: BAD GUY/gal<br />The Antagonist  (#2)<br />(aka The Bad Guy/Bad Girl/Person or Thing Thwarting Your Protagonist)<b...
4. WHO: Other GUYS<br />Protagonist & Antagonist<br />Driver vs. Inhibitor<br />Reason & Emotion<br /><ul><li>Logic vs. Fe...
What about you?<br />Protagonist	<br /><ul><li>Who?
Want?
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What's your story? Storytelling tips for fiction writing

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Have you ever written half a manuscript or script only to find yourself asking, "What story am I writing anyway?" This presentation summarizes a few effective ways to rediscover the true story that you are writing.

This presentation is based a workshop I gave in 2008 sponsored by the City of Ottawa. The Ottawa Independent Writers asked me to adapt it for their Annual General Meeting.

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Transcript of "What's your story? Storytelling tips for fiction writing"

  1. 1. WHAT’s YOUR STORY?<br />By Nichole mcgill<br />27 January 2011<br />Ottawa Independent Writers AGM<br />
  2. 2. Tonight!<br />WHAT<br />WHY<br />WHAT SPECIFICALLY<br />WHO <br />WHAT EXACTLY<br />10 FRAMES<br />But first…<br />
  3. 3. “A CAUTIONARY TALE”aka “HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL”<br />
  4. 4. <ul><li>Short story collection?
  5. 5. Novel?
  6. 6. Film?
  7. 7. TV – Movie of the week?
  8. 8. Producer?</li></ul>What was the heart?<br />ONCE UPON A TIME, I had a…<br /> !<br />
  9. 9. Tell the truth even If no one believes you<br />shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.<br />
  10. 10. <ul><li>Novel!
  11. 11. First person!
  12. 12. Young adult!
  13. 13. Thriller!
  14. 14. Hero: Suspicious!
  15. 15. Wants: Independence!
  16. 16. Needs: Tell the truth!
  17. 17. Arc!</li></ul>New purpose<br />
  18. 18. On writing: “Camilla vs. YANN” <br />headlights<br />Plots, plots, plots<br />
  19. 19. recommend: Both <br />“voice”, flavour<br />Action, engaged reader<br />
  20. 20. 1. WHat?<br />Type / Format<br />Genre<br />Message<br />What happens (one sentence)<br />Who is your main character<br />Transformative action<br />End result<br />
  21. 21. 1. WHat?<br />Novel (200 pages)<br />Young adult, thriller<br />Telling the truth<br />Logline:<br />A teenage girl who mistrusts adults…<br />…decides to take on a stalker by herself, endangering herself…<br />…but ultimately learning the importance of telling the truth.<br />
  22. 22. A word @ Loglines<br /><ul><li>Writing a good logline is an art
  23. 23. It will transform
  24. 24. This is your pitch: test this with strangers and friends
  25. 25. “What are you writing?”</li></ul>“I’m writing a YA novel about a teenage girl <br />who takes on a stalker by herself”<br />“I’m writing a thriller about a papergirl who is obsessed with the abduction of girls in her neighbourhood.”<br />TIP: An incomplete logline will tell you what you’re missing.<br />
  26. 26. 1. WHAT ABOUT YOU?<br />Type / Format<br />Genre<br />Message<br />What happens (one sentence)<br />Who is your main character<br />Transformative action<br />End result<br />
  27. 27. 2. WHY?<br /><ul><li>Inspiration
  28. 28. Moral
  29. 29. One message</li></ul>Your message will dictate your ending.<br />Your ending will dictate the entire story.<br />
  30. 30. MORAL for Girl #3<br /><ul><li>“The Girl Who Cried Wolf”
  31. 31. Importance of telling the truth</li></ul>Ending = transformative action<br />Story = tension<br />***<br />Ending = she has to tell someone about the stalker<br />Story= her not telling<br />
  32. 32. 2. WHY– YOUR TURN<br />Why are you writing what you are writing?<br /><ul><li>Inspiration
  33. 33. Moral
  34. 34. One message</li></ul>Your message will dictate your ending.<br />Your ending will dictate the entire story.<br />
  35. 35. 3. What EXACTLY?<br />The WHY drives this:<br />Type / Format<br />Genre<br />Message<br />What happens (one sentence)<br />Who is your main character<br />Transformative action<br />End result<br />
  36. 36. YOU CAN’T FOOL THE READER<br />If it doesn’t ring true for you, it won’t ring true to your readers<br />
  37. 37. 4. WHo: GOOD guy/GAL<br />The Protagonist (#1)<br />(aka The Hero/Heroine/Main Character)<br />What does my main character want?<br />What does my main character need? *<br />What is their arc/journey?<br /> <br />
  38. 38. 4. Who: BAD GUY/gal<br />The Antagonist (#2)<br />(aka The Bad Guy/Bad Girl/Person or Thing Thwarting Your Protagonist)<br />What do they want and how are they thwarting your protagonist?<br />Does your antagonist have a character arc? (Not necessary but could be interesting.)<br />
  39. 39. 4. WHO: Other GUYS<br />Protagonist & Antagonist<br />Driver vs. Inhibitor<br />Reason & Emotion<br /><ul><li>Logic vs. Feelings</li></ul>Sidekick & Skeptic <br />Faith vs. Doubt<br />Guardian & Contagonist<br /><ul><li>Guiding Light vs. Temptation</li></li></ul><li>4. WHO: Other GUYS<br />Protagonist & Antagonist<br />Harry Potter & Voldemort<br />Reason & Emotion<br /><ul><li>Minerva McGonagall & sometimes Hermione, Ron, (changes)</li></ul>Sidekick & Skeptic <br />Ron, Professor Snape<br />Guardian & Contagonist<br /><ul><li>Dumbledore & DracoMalfoy; Contagonist changes for each novel</li></li></ul><li>4. WHo: GOOD guy/GAL<br />The Protagonist: SydJohanssen<br />What does my main character want? <br />Live, be independent<br />What does my main character need? *<br />Reach out to others<br />What is their arc/journey?<br /><ul><li>She has to reach out in the end and she has to BELIEVE in it. </li></li></ul><li>4. Who: BAD GUY/Gal<br />The Antagonist : Faceless Man<br />What do they want and how are they thwarting your protagonist.<br />He wants to “collect” her<br />Does your antagonist have a character arc? <br />Archetype<br />
  40. 40. What about you?<br />Protagonist <br /><ul><li>Who?
  41. 41. Want?
  42. 42. Need?</li></ul>ANtagonist<br /><ul><li>Who?
  43. 43. Want?
  44. 44. (Need?)</li></li></ul><li>What specifically?<br />Plot = action + character<br />Action =<br />anything that moves story forward <br />what the main character does to get what she/he wants<br />and how they deal with adversity<br />
  45. 45. PLOT TOOLS<br />Three-Act Structure <br />Scene Outline<br />Tell your story in ten panels<br />
  46. 46. TACTic #1: Sydfield’s three-act<br />Act i<br />Act ii<br />Act iii<br /><ul><li>Resolution
  47. 47. End</li></ul>90 – 120 pp<br /><ul><li>Set-up
  48. 48. Catalyst
  49. 49. Beginning</li></ul>1 – 30 pp<br /><ul><li>Confrontation
  50. 50. Obstacles
  51. 51. Middle</li></ul>30 – 90 pp<br />
  52. 52. Syd Field’s THREE-ACT<br />Page 1: Sets the mood<br />Page 3: Viewers needs to know central question of story<br />Page 10: Viewers need to know what the story is<br />Page 30: New world (1stTurning Point)<br />Page 45: Protagonist has character growth <br />Page 60: The Point of No Return: <br /> Character commits themselves further to their goal; some success <br />Page 80: All is Lost! (2ndTurning Point)<br />Pages 90-120: Climax, End<br />
  53. 53. SYD FIELD’s VIEW of “Alice in Wonderland”<br />Page 1: Alice with her sister doing lessons<br />Page 3: Alice is bored; sees white rabbit <br />Page 10: Alice falls down rabbit hole<br />Page 30: Alice enters Wonderland (can’t escape)<br />Page 45: Takes control. She can shrink and grow at will<br />Page 60: Alice decides she wants to go home<br />Page 80: Croquet with the Queen. “Off with her head!”<br />Page 90-120 Trial.Alice grows big. Mushroom wears off. Chased by guards. She wakes up. <br />“It was all a dream!”<br />
  54. 54. “A” STORY vs. “B” STORY<br />Plot out your “A” story first <br />Everything in your story is a slave to it<br />Alice in Wonderland <br />All “A” story<br />Titanic<br />A = Love story<br />B= Boat’s sinking<br />
  55. 55. WHAT ABOUT you?<br />Page 1: Sets the mood<br />Page 3: Viewers needs to know central question of story<br />Page 10: Viewers need to know what the story is <br />Page 30: New world (1stTurning Point)<br />Page 45: Protagonist has character growth <br />Page 60: The Point of No Return <br /> Character commits themselves further to their goal; some success <br />Page 80: All is Lost! (2ndTurning Point)<br />Pages 90-120: Climax, End<br />
  56. 56. TACTIC #2: Plot out SCENES<br />Chapter by chapter<br />Scene by scene<br />Reader & writer still need to know:<br /><ul><li>Central question of story
  57. 57. 1stTurning Point: Protagonist is in a new world
  58. 58. Protagonist has character growth
  59. 59. The Point of No Return
  60. 60. 2ndTurning Point: All is Lost!
  61. 61. Ending</li></ul> <br />
  62. 62. VERY, VERy important!<br />Something has to happen <br />on every page,<br />script or prose.<br /> <br />That “SOMETHING” has to move your plot forward.<br />
  63. 63. TACTIC #3: 10 PANELS<br />This is a test…<br />Script, novel or long story<br />“A” storyline<br />On track<br /> <br />
  64. 64. TACTIC #3: 10 PANELS<br />This is a test…<br />Script, novel or long story<br />“A” storyline<br />On track<br />Can you tell your story in 10 panels?<br />
  65. 65. TACTIC #3: 10 PANELs<br />Panel 1: Set-up main character and situation<br /> <br />Panel 2: Show us what this story is about<br /> <br />Panel 3: 1st turning point: <br /> Main character is in new territory<br /> <br /> <br />
  66. 66. TACTIC #3: 10 PANELs<br />Significant Second Act Events<br />Panels 4 to 7: Character growth<br /> Point of no return<br /> Could test “B” story<br /> Could put 2nd turning point<br /> <br />
  67. 67. TACTIC #3: 10 PANELS<br />Panel 8: 2nd turning point<br /> <br />Panel 9: Climax<br /> <br />Panel 10: End<br /> <br /> <br />
  68. 68. TACTIC #3: 10 PANELS<br />Panel 1: Set-up main character and situation<br />Panel 2: Show us what this story is about<br />Panel 3: 1st turning point (New territory)<br />Panel 4: Character growth<br />Panel 5: More growth / “B” story / success or failure<br />Panel 6: No return<br />Panel 7: Some success<br />Panel 8: All is lost (2nd turning point)<br />Panel 9: Climax<br />Panel 10: End<br /> <br />
  69. 69. WHAT ABOUT YOUR 10 PANELS?<br />Panel 1: Set-up main character and situation<br />Panel 2: Show us what this story is about<br />Panel 3: 1st turning point (New territory)<br />Panel 4: Character growth<br />Panel 5: More growth / “B” story / success or failure<br />Panel 6: No return<br />Panel 7: Some success<br />Panel 8: All is lost (2ndturning point)<br />Panel 9: Climax<br />Panel 10: End<br /> <br />
  70. 70. www.nicholemcgill.com<br />nicholemcgill@gmail.com<br />@nicholemcgill<br />QUESTIONS?<br />
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