Monday, April 27, 2009

"Plotting the Novel" - Workshop with Helen Hemphill

I attended a fabulous workshop this weekend in Nashville titled “Plotting the Novel,” sponsored by the SCBWI-Midsouth group. The speaker was Helen Hemphill, author of three award-winning books published by Front Street and edited by Stephen Roxburgh: The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones, Runaround, and Long Gone Daddy.

Helen is an excellent presenter. She divided her workshop into sections – 1) Premise, loglines, opening lines and opening page, 2) Defining the protagonist/antagonist, sequence of story, self-realization and theme. After each section we were given writing assignments that we later shared with the group.

I am not a trained writer, no MFA in literature or such, so I am always looking for workshops or seminars on the craft of writing. I find the interactive workshop very helpful. Helen discussed specifics, gave examples, and required us to apply what we learned immediately to our own work in progress. If you have the opportunity to hear Helen – go. If you would like to schedule her as a presenter for your school, writer’s group, or other group, you can contact her through her website listed above.

Lunch was also informative. One of the questions that came up at my table was, “How do you find your writing topics?” Several people said they peruse newspapers and magazine articles –old and new, for interesting stories. They find an obscure or strange aspect to the story and run with it. Others brainstormed fun titles first, or played 20 questions with a character. My first novel just “came” to me. I free wrote for several days before I decided I should probably have a plan. Like I said – not a trained writer. This time around I’m plotting first. I have a premise and logline, character sketches and an outline. Now I need to do a bit of research and begin writing.

How do you generate topics for your books?

7 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

LOL! I go back to my notes!
Helen spoke at one of our SCBWI meetings last year and was fabulous. She's such an awesome person!

Christina Farley said...

Sounds fab. Wish I could hear her. Thanks for all the tips you passed on too.

Angela said...

I love workshops--sounds like yours was a winner!

Lynnette Labelle said...

Most of the time, they come to me in dreams. Strange, I know.

Hey, if you know anything about registering a domain name or setting up a website, pop over to my blog and fill us in. Thanks.

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

How nice that your time was well-spent! I'm attending a workshop on plotting in Iowa in July...

Nora MacFarlane said...

I learn so much every time I attend a workshop. I wish I could go to them more often. I'd like to find one on character development.

Lynnette - I know nothing about it. Wish I did!

sruble said...

It sounds like the workshop was a good one. I hope that outlining works for you! It hasn't worked for me so far, but I think I'm starting to see the light of outlining.