On both Friday and Saturday mornings, a small but enthusiastic group met at 6:30am to start our day with a walk along the beach. The weather was very kind to us, and the sunrises were spectacular.
Friday was a full day optional workshop with screenwriter and thriller writer Alexandra Sokoloff, Screenwriting Tips for Authors. I had the 'honour' of being MC for the day (in front of 150 people!) which was quite nerve-wracking. Apart from that though, the day was excellent.
Alex talked about how movies follow a certain structure - eg in a 2hr movie, there is a climactic scene approx every 30 minutes - and how you can use that structure in novel writing. As far as I know, her ebook and blog go through everything she did in the workshop.
A movie can be divided into 8 sequences:
- Act I, Sequence 1
- Act I, Sequence2
- Act II: Part 1, Sequence 3
- Act II: Part 1, Sequence 4 (Midpoint)
- Act II: Part 2, Sequence 5
- Act II: Part 2, Sequence 6 (Black Moment)
- Act III, Sequence 7
- Act III, Sequence 8 (Final battle)
We discussed the structure of many movies in various genres (lots of chick flicks!) and analysed which were the important scenes and how they were done.
Some notes I jotted down from the day:
- Often climaxes involve crowd scenes to make it seem more climactic
- A setpiece is a big climactic scene where you have to build a big set or a scene that isn't going to be cut because they're the 'money' scenes. Also the scenes you see in the trailer.
- Every love scene - kiss, interrupted kiss, sex scene etc - must be a climax / set piece.
- Use index cards to brainstorm scenes. Set up 40-60 index cards - write down the scenes you know. Start arranging them to fit the structure.
- Opening image needs to set things up visually. Where they are, genre, tone, world. Themes / symbolism.
- The 'Plan' can and probably does change along the way. The initial plan requires the least amount of effort for the hero/ine. Plan changes at midpoint at act II climax because plan goes wrong.
- "The Dance" - we need to see the hero & heroine working together in some way to show they're perfect for each other. Makes the reader want / hope for hero & heroine to get together.
- Hero/ine knows what they want, but not what they need. The reader can see what they need. After the black moment, the hero/ine realises what they need. And that what they wanted isn't right for them.
- If there is a mentor in the story, the mentor has to disappear / die at the act II:Pt 2 climax so that the hero/ine can grow and become their own person. (Dumbledore anyone?!)
- Act II: Part 1 is the genre fill-in / world-builing - eg Harry Potter - the classes, Quidditch matches etc; Mystery - police procedure; Caper - gathering the team, training
Friday night was the Cocktail Party with a Diamonds are Forever / 1950s theme. Lots of Marilyn Monroes, a couple of Elvises, lots of Pink Ladies and Sandies, and many glamorous frocks. My personal favourite was Radar and Margaret from MASH.
I didn't get any photos on the night, but this was one of most of our face-to-face writer's group taken by fellow RWA member, Elle Fynllay.
Stay tuned for the rest of the conference in Part 2 :)