Well, today ended the Writers at the Beach conference for 2010. I'm crossing my fingers there will be a conference in 2011. I'd like to make this an annual event!
Only one workshop today:
Screenwriting Techniques for Fictions Writers (10:30-12:30)
Khris Baxter was the leader of this workshop, and it fit nicely with the earlier workshop of his, Building Dramatic Scenes That Work, that I took Friday morning. The session today focused on structure and how techniques used by screenwriters can be adapted when writing a novel. I was familiar with much of the material (the three-act structure, story arc, the hero's quest), but I still picked up on some key thoughts.
The main thing I took to heart was Khris's statement, "Structure is form, not formula." He's absolutely correct, and even though it may seem simplistic on the surface, I suspect this is something with which many writers (including myself) battle.
The workshop today forced me to rethink the novel I started back in 1987 (yes, I am THAT old!) but never finished. I realize now, the reason I never finished it, despite my laundry list of excuses, is because the novel was never adequately structured. For our writing exercise this morning, Khris had us apply the three-act structure (including an inciting incident and plot point in Act I, the Setup; a midpoint and second plot point in Act II, the Confrontation; and the ultimate climax in Act III, the Resolution) to our current writing project. I couldn't complete the assignment! Even though I KNOW this stuff, I've never actually applied it to the novel!
I would like to resurrect the book I started over 20 years ago, but it will clearly take far more attention to structure than I'd previously planned. Perhaps, back in 1987, I wasn't a mature enough writer (and maybe that's just another excuse).
Regardless, Khris inspired me to reconsider my approach and develop a stronger, better thought-out story structure for the novel.
I guess I learned something today!