Friday, May 24, 2013

What I Learned From Terry Kay, Part 1 (by Kaitlin Bevis)

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Terry Kay, and it absolutely changed the way I write. I've never been much of an outliner. But Terry showed me a modified three act structure outline that I can't write without now. I've changed it a little, and I'm sure every writer will add their own tweaks, but here are the basics.

On a white board, section off three boxes. Label the first "Exposition," and write out the basic situation of your plot (who, what, where, when, why). The next block should be labeled "Conflict." Write out the conflicts, big and small in your story. The last block is "Resolution," which is how you want your story to end.

Since my stories are mostly character driven, I get the basics for the plot down, and then get a big sticky note for each character and write one out for them. Who are they? What are they like? What baggage to they bring to the story? What are their conflicts, and how to do they overcome them. Their character arcs should correspond to the overall conflict of the plot, so this really helps with pacing. 

Then I make a section for each chapter of the book. I write each scene on a sticky note, and make a note of who is in each scene and what they add to it. Sometimes in doing this I realize that I have characters in the scenes that don't need to be there. Sometimes, I realize I need someone else's voice in the scene. What I like about the sticky notes is that I can rearrange them if I need to.

Having all of this written out and brainstormed has really helped my writing go smoother. Of course, while I'm writing my characters may go off in a completely different direction, but then all I have to do is change my sticky notes.

Above: My outline for the first three chapters of my work in progress, Venus and Adonis, book four of the Daughter's of Zeus series.

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book, and a pen. If the ending didn’t agree with her, she rewrote it. She has always wanted to be a writer, and she spent high school and college learning everything she could so that one day she could achieve that goal. Kaitlin graduated college with my BFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and is pursuing her masters at the University of Georgia.

Her young adult fiction novel Persephone, and her short story Siren Song are available to buy in ebook stores everywhere. She also writes for Athens Parent Magazine, and She has also published several short stories.

You can find her on her website and on Twitter @KaitlinBevis

Death is a luxury she can't afford 

Life is hell for Persephone. Zeus will stop at nothing to gain access to the living realm and the Underworld, and as the only living god with a right to both, Persephone’s in trouble. Captured and tortured beyond the limits of her resolve, Persephone must find the power to stand against Zeus. But will she be strong enough?  

Meanwhile, Hades contemplates desperate measures to rescue his queen. Persephone never thought of herself as dangerous, but there’s a reason gods never marry for love. A being with the power to destroy all of creation shouldn’t place more value in one individual than the rest of the planet. But Hades...Hades would break the world for her. 

To save the world and stop both Hades and Zeus, Persephone must make a difficult choice. One that may cost her everything. 

1 comment:

Sharon Ledwith said...

Great concept, wonderful teaching method, Kaitlin! Thanks for sharing this technique! Cheers!