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Friday, October 23, 2015

#ROSACon2015: Storylining

This report on Jo Watson's talk on Storylining is by Jana van Niekerk, who writes under the name Eden Walker.

First off, you need to know that I am a HUGE Jo Watson fan. Read her book Burning Moon which won her a book deal with Harlequin via their So You Think You Can Write Contest in 2013. It will keep you awake. So I was delighted to hear what she had to tell us about Storylining: what we can learn from TV. Jo is humble but dynamic and passionate about her work and the presentation was amazing! She has worked in TV and wrote a WHOLE TV SHOW about our conference – “Blood ROSA” – just to demonstrate some pertinent points! The amount of work that went into this (plus video clips!) was mind-boggling. And it was tremendously useful. This is what I, as a romance writer, took away from it:

• “The character Bible”: What do your characters
Want?
Need?
Fear?
Their strengths?
Weaknesses/flaws?
Major turning points?
• “You can back anything up with a back-story”
• Multiple story-lines for complexity (ABCD)
• “The mechanics of story are precise, purposeful, mathematical”
• See Robert McKee on story:
Set-up leads to Confrontation leads to Resolution.

It goes like this:
Inciting incident – rising action – Climax 1 – Mid-point (a big twist) – Climax 2 – falling action.

First establish an ordinary world (the status quo) (So you can f*** it up big-time). The inciting incident is a call to action; the world goes into disarray. In order to fix or change it, to return to the ordinary world, the character realises s/he will have to move through and it will be painful. But first there is a Refusal of the Call (reluctance). The character lacks the skills to deal with the inciting incident. But then there is increased awareness, commitment, a big change, rededication and then mastery of an issue. This is the character arc!
Along the way: Progressive complications, stumbling blocks, conflicts (watching/reading it, you go “What the f***??”)
The equilibrium is disrupted, the character recognises this and attempts repair so that a new equilibrium is established.
Climax and a return to the altered world.
And it’s conflict that makes it happen!
• Conflict between the character and the world
• Conflict between the character and her/himself
• Conflict between characters (interpersonal)

Also, we left with a list of “the best ever” TV series that, “If you haven’t seen this, I’m sorry, you haven’t lived”. When Jo Watson says it, I believe it. So check them out and enjoy (and live!):
• Battlestar Galactica
• Deadwood
• Dexter
• The Wire
• Arrested Development
• True Detective
• Breaking Bad
• Gray’s Anatomy (to understand The Cliffhanger)
• Damages
• The Killing
• Shield

Thank you Jo for sharing your enthusiasm and talent with us. What a pleasure.


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