Last week was about getting to the page and writing every day. This week, we start to zero in on the story we'll be writing between now and November.
In class, we did the Character + Problem exercise. At their heart, most stories are about one main character with a significant problem. The tale unfolds as she grapples with it.
Some people already knew the elements they wanted to work with. For those who didn't, I brought in my character cards and problem cards. You can do the same thing by clicking on the links here:
The assignment was to write about the character dealing with the problem, for ten minutes. Wrestling with it. Thinking about it. Discovering it. Whatever comes to mind. The writing should be prose: that is, not an outline or notes, but descriptions, dialogue, etc.
Next, we talked about screenwriter Billy Wilder's definition of the three-act structure: Get your character up a tree. Throw rocks at him. Get him down. We did a very abbreviated version of this Exercise in Plot.
Finally, we did the exercise I call An Ending and a Letter.
This week's homework is:
Reading: Think about how sometimes there is a difference between what a character wants and what he needs. This story illustrates the difference; read it: "Guy Walks Into a Bar" by Simon Rich. Does this apply to your main character?
Writing: Write seven pages (that's double-spaced, 12-point type) of your story. Part of the beginning, middle or end, or the whole draft—whatever you like. But it must not be notes or outline; it must be a partial draft of the story.