Friday, 24 October 2008

Greg Mosse – Plot Overview

Last night I went to the last event of the Guildford book festival that I’ll be attending this year – a plot workshop.
I really enjoyed it, even if some of the attendees where taking it a bit seriously.
Greg Mosse obviously knew what he was talking about, and best of all took tiny parts of real books to show us how plot can work.

We started by agreeing that plot is a series of imagined events.

One of his exercises was to ask us for a location, which ended up being Hadrian’s Wall at about 125AD. We then came up with characters, in this case a Pagan Witch and a Roman Centurion, and the plot grew from this. Which confirms what the Open University taught me, that Character + Conflict = Plot.
I like this as I always find that just coming up with a plot by its self is extremely hard work and probably why my longer stories fizzle out.
Another exercise was to look at a painting, Utrillo’s Notre-Dame de Clignantcourt (above), and write 70 words of action. I liked this also. He reminded us to write the story, not about the story.

My attempt went;
The boy ran along the street kicking up snow as he went. Rushing he knew he was late; the bells had stopped ringing at the start of the street. As he cornered, so close he could now see the doors, he felt his feet slide from under him and reached out for anything that might stop his fall.
Nothing was there and he fell with a clatter to the frozen cobbles. With a tear in his eye and pink cheeks from the cold he pushed up from the snow and, slower now, ran for the dark wooden doors.
He could hear the organ playing. If he could just slip in without anyone seeing he might just get away with it.

I definitely came away with ideas that I could work with, hopefully to improve my own writing.
All in all a good festival and I look forward to next years.

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