The Character Generated Plot
I’ve had several enquires regarding
specifics of the eight week, On-Line Character Generated Story and Plot
workshops. Here are answers to the most Frequently Asked
• How does
session unfold? Is it like a conference call?
Yes, in many ways similar. But free-to-download and free-to-use
VOIP system (PC and Mac compatible) Skype
are much more
flexible and efficient. All you need is a high-speed connection
and a inexpensive microphone, of the kind which likely came with your
computer. If not, a few bucks will get you talking. Your
current speakers will do just fine. VOIP sound is crisp and very
present . . . like we’re all in the same room. And we can share
documents while we speak. (We don’t use the video aspect.
It eats too much bandwitdth, and besides . . . we’re all about words!)
place in the sessions?
We work with specific timed exercises, where we
discover and expand characters from three different perspectives. The
exercises are then read to the group and critiqued using a series of
pointed, respectful listening exercises designed to reveal to the
writer what she or he has actually written, not what we might have
misheard or imagined. From these exercises you develop the
story. The goal is a three page, 750 word story outline detailing
the who what where when of your work. And a 'one page leave-behind", a
kind of appetizer to whet agent/producer/publisher's whistles
You'll gain deep knowledge of the
theme and central conflict, the rising action, the climax, denouement
and resolution of your piece. At this point we consider the plot, the
how and why of narrative.
• How many
participants per session?
I currently restrict each of the sixteen hour
sessions to six participants, maximum. This way, we all get
equal time to learn, to write, and to be heard.
• What are
advantages to the group dynamic?
It is important to each participant that the group
act as a kind of first audience/first reader. The group listens
to the written work, and offers constructive, respectful observations
aimed at improving the work. I moderate these sessions with a
six-question listening exercise designed to support the writer and
increase her or his understanding of their work. Everyone
participates in the exercise in a prescribed manner. Every voice
• I worry
may not be as advanced as other people.
The course is specifically designed to accommodate
persons at varied levels, from committed beginners to persons moving
from one discipline to another, to seasoned writers coming back to
refresh their craft. The interchange of skills and life
experiences between various levels, ages, races, genders and
sensibilities . .
. this is enormously enriching for all. I construct and
maintain an atmosphere where every idea is valued, every criticism
thoughtful and respectfully delivered and received.
• How are
determined? (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Costs vary according to individual requirements and workshop
Because we are dealing with the exchange of
intellectual property, we must be very careful our ideas are both
respected and protected. All ideas offered to you by me —
ideas arising from thirty years of professional practice as a career
writer, study and in-class teaching experience — become and remain your
property. I have no future claim on ideas freely delivered by me,
ideas which may appear in the final work, ideas which may in fact earn
you money in the future, should your project ‘take off.’ The fee
reflects the approximate tuition of an equivalent university course,
from which the design for the workshops emerged. A payment schedule
tailored to your circumstances is offered.
• I have
screenplay or prose work in progress. Does that matter?
Because the on-line Character Driven Plot course is
a craft course, I teach the basic elements required to make a new work
from the ground up. You may have an idea in mind, either slightly
or significantly developed. You may not. It doesn’t
matter. It’s important to put work in progress aside temporarily,
only for the duration of the course, while a new work emerges from the
craft exercises. In this way, you are free to lean the essentials
of the craft without limiting possibilities to a pre-conceived,
pre-developed work. The field is clear to learn the craft of writing
without impediment or prejudice. Go back at the old work with new
tools as the course proceeds. Re-work it entirely when finished. The
secret of writing? Re-writing.
follow-up can I expect?
When you have the craft in hand, after the course is
complete, it is wonderful to take what you have learned back to a work
in progress. You’ll be delighted by the insights which blossom
when your abilities as a newly minted crafts-person are applied to work
in progress, or even previously completed work. Many people
find work emerging from the course by way of the dramaturged
exercises goes on to completion. Several people, including
newcomers, have had work go on to the professional stage; fiction
writers have had work favourably evaluated by publishers. I’m
always delighted to advise regrading production and publication
strategies. I’ll read a draft within one year following the
course and provide a three page commentary tailored to your work for an
one-one-one on-line sessions available?
Yes. A series of one-hour courses with just
you and me can be arranged, depending on mutually agreeable schedules,
and my availability. Fees reflect the exclusive benefits of the
one-on-one experience. Week-long and week-end workshops designed for groups of any size are