Friday 12 February 2010

Writing Novels for Young People

I really enjoyed my session yesterday with this group. They are a Level 6 (second year) group of very motivated students. We are in our second week. Last week’s task was to create two characters, one of them the main character of the proposed novel and one of them the friend, the mentor or the enemy. They have to really know their characters well – physically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and they must also know the motivation that this character has in the story they have created. I was pleased that although not all that many students had written their scene, they had given considerable thought to the characters they had created. There was also some discussion about the characters needing to be rounded. Rounded and whole.
We then looked at several story theories. The first thing they need to do is put their story into a sentence – two lines maximum. Then they need to give their story a shape. The Robert McKee structure is a good starter: inciting incident, growing complexities, crisis, climax, reversal resolution (epilogue). Then they can look at other complexities- Freytag’s or Melrose’s, or my own plot pyramid. There are also the various hero’s journey theories Joseph Campbell, Vladimir Propp and Christopher Vogler. Add in also a handful of Jungian archetypes.
We discussed the character and the plot shapes in their set books.
They’ve been sent away to write their opening scene and work out their plot. I have great hopes for next week.

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