How To Shape Your Story Plus Plot Advice

Shape Your Story was a well-attended workshop I ran over the summer for a local litfest.

We focussed on what’s often called narrative drive: the plight of your main character(s), questions arising about their fate, and how tough you make it for matters to resolve.

When I was preparing the workshop, I wasn’t sure that I was fully emotionally engaged in it, so I decided to do something I’d been putting off for a few years. I sat down and compared a novel I’d written with the screenplay it became, penned by Gwyneth Lewis, a renowned author and poet.

Once that I-don’t-really-want-to-be-doing this sensation went from my solar plexus, the exercise taught me a lot. Focus on the human interest story, drive clearly towards happy/sad ending ( I’d gone for ambivalence on this), don’t overdo the subplotting and restrict your character numbers and scope of story.

Yes, a screenplay is different from a novel, but even so, my character range was Dickensian, even if my storytelling, sadly, was not… So a helpful dose of medicine, if not an initially palatable one.

Gillian McAllister is someone I enjoy following on twitter, and a few weeks ago she published this great stream on how she plots her psychological thrillers. She’s an ex-lawyer, so we might expect her to be organized… She’s on twitter here:



And finally, please look out for my new course, described in subsequent post to this one: Freelance Writing Bootcamp, 21 creative exercises to give your freelance writing career a boost.. Happy writing!