(Homework Part 3)
By Nichole Giles
The sixteen people sitting around the long oval table in a little room in the BYU conference center were getting comfortable with each other by the third day of the writing workshop. This day we were talking about plot.
“In children’s literature, story is what we do best,” says author Martine Leavitt. “Each writer approaches plot differently. You can’t build a house without a plan.” These are the tools Martine suggested for creating our story’s blueprints: character, conflict, and change.
Who is the character? What is the main conflict? Is there a change somewhere from beginning to end?
When considering conflict, there are three basic combinations: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. himself. Which of these will your conflict be?
Norma Foxx Mazer (a very wise lady) sees three kinds of structure:
Something happens and there’s a consequence.
Someone’s life is off balance and the story is about returning to balance
Someone wants something and sets about getting it. (This is her favorite)
She makes her character try three times before getting it, making the circumstances worse each time.
Adam Rapp, author of “Buffalo Tree” suggests putting your story in three sentences. This is a story about _________. It begins when __________. The main character wants _______.
This week’s homework assignment is simple. It is also an important part of your plot. You have two choices. Write the moment your character says or thinks, “Aha.” (No using the words he realized or she thought) Or write the hopeless moment in your story.
As I searched through my completed—but still unfinished—novel, I had to think way too hard to find either of these two things. Luckily, I found one of each. As I thought through the day’s lesson, I did some editing, some revising, and reworking. What I ended up with was an important, usable scene in my story. Thanks again, Martine. My story is getting better every day.
Give your character an epiphany, and enable them to resolve a conflict. It just might make your day.