Sunday, January 24, 2016

David Farland: My Story Doctor: Story Puzzle - Part 6

In this installment on my experiences with David Farland's online workshop "Story Puzzle," I will discuss our last assignment on Treatments. (You can find Dave's workshops here.)

For Dave, it seems a treatment in this sense is different than what most people think of for a story treatment. Wikipedia (the greatest source of information in the world **please note my sarcasm**) defines a treatment as:

A film treatment (or simply treatment) is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards (index cards) and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, television program, or radio play.

Perhaps because we're talking about a novel ... though the differences are so great I would have to ask.

For Dave, a treatment discusses the emotional beats of a story. Not so much the step-by-step beats of here she feels happy, here she feels sad, here she feels angry, but the overall emotions for the various plot lines ... and, more specifically, how we, as authors, are going to utilize those beats to create emotional pull for our potential audiences.

Here's what I mean: 

In the particular story I am workshopping, the greatest emotional beat is Romance. This is because I intend on writing a romance. However, the next greatest emotional beat is Wonder because I am also writing a fantasy novel. Romance (if done correctly) should appeal to women and girls, Wonder should appeal to boys. No, I have a third emotional beat: Adventure. This emotional beat works with my male protagonist, and should appeal to men and boys alike.

The goal with this type of treatment is to create a focal point for the story to keep your target audience in mind each time you're writing a scene. Now, when I sit down to outline my scenes, I should remember these three emotional beats from my treatment and try to keep my scenes within one of the three. This isn't to say I can't have an element of mystery or suspense in the scenes, but the emotional beats I set out (romance, wonder, and adventure) should rule.

In my opinion, this was the easiest of all the assignments. I received positive feedback from Dave (which leads me to believe I did the assignment right and did a good job at that).

Now that I've gone through the workshop, the next step is to sit down and actually outline and write the story.

In my next post I'll discuss my overall reactions to the workshop.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

David Farland: My Story Doctor: Story Puzzle - Part 5

Lesson 5 from David Farland's Story Puzzle revolves around theme. This particular post will be quite brief, as theme is a part of the storytelling process I don't like to force.

For this lesson, Dave asks we analyze the conflicts and plots within we've created thus far and discover whether or not a noticeable theme jumps out. From that theme, we are then asked to analyze how each of the major characters views this theme (with the hope that each character will be able to present a different argument on said theme). Finally, we were to list a series of scenes for each of these characters which illustrated their views on said theme.

So ... I completed the assignment, and I can see how it can be helpful, specifically to keep the story maintained within a particular paradigm. Focusing on a theme could help ensure a writer doesn't specifically wander too far away from said theme, which can help the writer keep the entire story focused.

That being said ... I don't particularly agree with focusing on a particular theme. I find doing so seems to create a heavy-handed narrative focusing too much on points of the theme instead of telling a good story. Instead, I like to think the reader will decide upon a theme himself, which makes the reading experience that much greater.

Perhaps it's just a matter of my own ineptitude as a storyteller, and my inability to bury a theme within the narrative.

Anyway ... the assignment was quite simple, and probably one of the easiest of the workshop thus far. One more assignment left. I still think this has been a great workshop. You can sign up for it here.