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When others asked the truth of me, I was convinced it was not the truth they wanted, but an illusion they could bear to live with. --Anais Nin


Plotting with Index Cards: The Visual (and Easy) Way to See Your Story

Saturday, May 12, 2012, 9 a.m. to noon, at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota, MN.
Cost: $35
Level: Intermediate to Advanced

The Board. It can be found in TV writers’ rooms, movie producers’ back offices, veteran writers’ studies. It doesn’t matter what it looks like—blackboard smeared with chalk, whiteboard splashed with color, cork board with neatly arranged index cards–it’s a way to see all the pieces of the puzzle at a glance…a way to see all your scenes and whether or not they work in the best way possible. If you’re dissatisfied with the order of your scenes, you simply rearrange the cards. Simple as that.

Cut out unnecessary writing. Display only the “beats” that move the story forward. Note where you have gaping holes. Fix the problems before you start writing, and you’ll look forward to your writing days.

We will “break” a story in class, so you can see how it works. Come with a story in mind, or simply to see how it’s done. This works for any type of writing—novels, short stories, screenplays, teleplays, plays, memoir, nonfiction.

Perfect Beginnings: How to Hook Your Reader from the Start

Saturday, May 12, 2012, 1 to 4 p.m, at Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota, MN.
Cost: $35
Level: Youth, ages 12 through 17

Dennis Hensley tells his writing students, “Keep in mind that what you write only has about ten seconds to win or lose a reader. If your [story beginning] is something fascinating that intrigues the reader, he or she will stay with you. If your opening is unimaginative, slow, or routine, your reader will desert you—and fast!” (How to Write What You Love and Make a Living at It). I’ll second that and say that many editors won’t read past one page if the story doesn’t interest them. This doesn’t give you much time.

Using your own story ideas and great examples from books and movies, we’ll come up with several hard-and-fast rules of wowing your reader. After incorporating what you’ve learned in this class, you’ll be amazed at how your story jumps off the page.