Last weekend, I was able to attend the first ever Storyteller’s Symposium in our little town. It was a fantastic event, and I was very impressed by the number of would be artists that appeared. What I really hadn’t expected was that the storytellers included all facets, including photography, writing, film, and everything in between.
What I loved was that even though I’d heard most of the advice already, it didn’t mean that there wasn’t something new for me to learn. For the majority of the month, I’ve been working on prewriting and preparing for NaNoWriMo, which means that I’m going back to the beginning. It’s been a year since I’ve started a first draft, and I feel like I’m relearning and revising how I start out a novel.
Probably what makes this ‘novel’ so difficult is that it isn’t a novel. It’s shaping up to be a series, which means that there’s even more plot points, even more characters, and even more planning so that the story arch follows a clear trajectory from start to finish. I’d gotten about two thirds of the way through the rough outline when I got stuck. I needed a large and satisfying climax, but I still wasn’t sure who my actual antagonist was. Or if the two potentials were working together.
During the symposium, I was thinking about this issue, and there was one lesson that really stood out to me. One of the presenters talked about the Dramatic Structure, the need to have a clear protagonist and a clear antagonist, and to have the two confront one another during the climax. He also mentioned that if there are two protagonists, then they both need to be present during the conflict.
You’d think that would be obvious, but every single climax I’d run through hadn’t included one of my characters. She was just as important as the other, but somehow, I hadn’t thought to make sure she had a clear reason to be there as well.
Once I figured out that both protagonists needed to be present, the dynamics changed, and the plot opened up again.
How’s your prewriting going? Ready for November?