What ideas seemed most helpful from this week’s discussions? What would you like to add?
"The impossible becomes the inevitable," (Michelle's quote) is a fantastic way to think of tension and the narrative arc.
The discussion sent me back to an earlier manuscript to re-write the first pages! My favorite session so far was with Devy Snively. This is a fabulous gift to writers, Michelle. Thank you so much.
The discussion on tension was really helpful, as was Katrin Schumann's story about going back to her manuscript ("Why keep reading?") with a question, and Michelle's suggestion to have the protagonist break a rule.
My other favorite episodes have been Steve Almond/Kate Racculia and Margot Livesey/Courtney Maum.
Thank you so much for doing this! I'm working on my third novel, and getting a lot out of it.
I found the discussion about tension super helpful (and I went back in and added elements that created more tension!) and also the episode where your guests talked about the importance of having the 'incident' relate directly to the character (and their flaws) rather than going for the most dramatic thing the writer can think of. This has been worth getting up for! Fortunately (for the rest of you), I have not had to be on camera....
The key takeaway for me is that you not only have to establish the stakes right away, but you also want to introduce a bit of mystery. In my case: what is behind the behavior and what happened during "the camping trip" when my protagonist was ten? I was also reinforced that the protagonist may not know the answer to the mystery (and thus what is driving his behavior).
Have I mentioned what a great and useful show this is? It is causing me to go back and revise what I thought was a completed project. Can't thank you enough.
What stuck out to me was how important it was for me to go back and really get to know my character's better and how much that would help my scene writing. The Henry James quote "characters determine incident - incident reveals characters" was the real kicker for me and made me realize why I was having trouble writing scenes. Now I am going back and really digging deep into my characters which I have found to be illuminating.
So enjoyed the POV discussions. Playing catch up listening to podcast. Love savoring these tidbits. Weike Wang's quote "you're only as good as your transitions". Made me think of Alice McDermott's Charming Billy, which although very thick with the church, really is a lovely study of transitions--because the story is told by the daughter of Billy's best friend (not unlike Nick of Great Gatsby) but at one point McDermott actually pulls off what Robert Olen Butler talks about in from where you dream when you have two povs sharing the same view of the situation as it unfolds.
Also have loved all your guests. Thank you so much for doing this. What a way to honor your mother and her book--a favorite.
I found the discussion about inciting incident very helpful. Devi's talking through of Dorothy's arc in the Wizard of Oz was an eye-opener -- that the incidents occur/derive from the makeup of the protagonist. Feeling more secure about my first draft and about a revision path. Loving this series.
Most helpful was your guest's experience of getting her second novel published first. Only after a few years' distance was she able to see that, although she had developed well-rounded characters and a beautiful setting, she was missing an over-arching question in her first novel. Once time gave her the ability to understand that, she was able to get that out there as well.
That anecdote helped me two ways. First, it made me aware of the importance of the over-arching question. It also gave me the ability to set aside my first WIP for now and freed me to get on with working on my second novel. I've been so disheartened by the experience of not getting my first novel published (even though it 'won' an award) that I have not been able to move on.
I also took copious notes (and even re-listened twice) to the discussion on the inciting incident. What struck me most was that the incident affects the main character in a way that it doesn't others. That, in turn, tells us a lot about the main character.
The best part about this series is that I can re-visit the episodes via the podcast. Thank you for organizing this. It's been very helpful