Notes from June 17

At the June 17 meeting, Romy Natalia Goldberg talked about plot, and she referred people to Save the Cat Writes a Novel: The 15 Beats (click on the link to go to a pdf), from Save the Cat Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need by Jessica Brody, based on Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat series of books on screenwriting and novel-writing, and his beat sheets. Natalia also mentioned that there are internal and external things, and you need to make sure you are considering both (what’s happening in the world and what’s happening inside the character) so the story seems balanced. After people read from their stories and got critiques, Molly talked about 5 key plot points.

5 key plot points (from Molly):
1. moment everything changes (inciting incident)
2. call to adventure
3. midpoint / turning point / point of no return
4. the darkest moment
5. the climax

She went over some examples from movies and books.

Example 1: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (movie)
1. bit by spider and gets powers
2. testing out his powers
3. Spiderman is dying and asks Miles to help
4. uncle almost kills Miles
5. Miles decides to fight Kingpin and send other spidermen back

Example 2: Mulan (movie)
1. letter telling people they need soldiers
2. she takes dad’s place
3. her deception is revealed
4. no one believes her because she’s a girl
5. she’s going to fight the Hun’s leader herself

Example 3: Star Wars: A New Hope (the original Star Wars movie; “episode 4”)
(about Luke’s call to adventure)
1. message that Leia sends with R2D2
2. ObiWan tells Luke he needs to save Leia
3. moon looks like a death star, point of no return, caught by tractor beam
4. Darth Vader kills ObiWan right in front of him
5. Luke has to use the Force to drop a bomb to stop the empire

Example 4: Charlotte’s Web (book or movie)
(the call to adventure is being accepted by the spider)
1. “Where is Daddy going with that axe?” – first line
2. need to save Wilbur
3. at the fair, he’s going to be real tasty
4. darkest moment goes to Wilbur (not Charlotte): he’s safe, but she’s going to die
5. she dies but entrusts her egg sac to Wilbur to bring back to the farm so her legacy will live on

Example 5: The Hate U Give (recent book and movie; spoiler alert: it’ll make you cry)
1. abandoned by her friend at a party
2. gunshots at the party, everyone scatters, she leaves with childhood best friend, and he’s murdered by cops, needs justice for her friend
3. she meets a justice organization that offers her a new way forward to get justice for her friend
4. grand jury refuses to indict the officer who shot her friend; won’t get justice
5. youth protest ensues in her city, and all the protesters are being treated like criminals no matter how they act, and she speaks up

The inciting incident is at the beginning (in Charlotte’s Web, it’s in the first line), but there could be a long prologue (could be up to 3 chapters); the inciting incident will be the start of the actual story. If the inciting incident will be at the very beginning, a character should get the call to adventure soon. Plot points apply to all types of stories: picture books, chapter books, movies. Is there rising action? You want all the plot points, but need a pattern to it; don’t just include them. The inciting incident can be in an active scene, keep it moving forward. There should be an emotional arc and a physical arc; you need those 5 plot points for a rough draft.

Natalia suggested that people should read books with diverse characters, but not just ones about their lives being terrible. Molly and Natalia mentioned that Harry Potter fans might be interested in reading Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia.

For next time, Molly wants everyone to take three stories you know and think about the structure of stories you already know and write them out (the plot points) for yourself. You should have at least 2000 words written by next time. The maximum is 3000; if you have more than that, you’ll need to trim it down before sending it off to your editor (which will be in mid-July). At the June 24 meeting, the first part of the meeting will be led by local author Dawn Husted, who will talk about setting. At the end of the meeting, Molly will talk about endowed objects and maps.

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