Saturday Night Write meets on the third Saturday of each month to provide instruction and encouragement to writers in the community surrounding UT Arlington (and anyone else who wants to drive out to meet up with us). Our discussion leader presents a structured topic and background research to spark interactive participation, focusing on various aspects of craft. Everyone is welcome to join us for these FREE events.
Time: 4-6 PM
Location: Saturday Night Write will be meeting virtually until further notice. I hope you all look at this as an opportunity to explore ways to bring more people to our group and enrich our experience. You will notice that the topics have changed from what was originally on the web site. I think we all need to reconnect with the joy of writing, and the ways we can use words to escape the everyday, so I’m listing some of my favorite topics for that for April and May.
February 18 – Writing a Meet Cute — This month we will discuss meet-cutes, and how they set reader expectations for the type of relationship the characters involved will have in the story. How does an effective meet cute show that the characters have chemistry, while setting the groundwork for the conflict that threatens to keep them apart? Part of the answer is knowing what qualities make the two characters better/stronger together than apart. It’s easy to know when it works – but harder to fix a meet cute that falls flat. How can you structure a meet-cute that will take a reader through the ups and downs of your story?
Join the discussion to consider: How do you avoid writing a meet-cute with an unintended character (and therefore misleading readers/viewers)? How can an awkward or antagonistic meet cute still be effective? What are different types of meet cutes?
March 18 – Creating Your Personal Essential Reading List – One thing about being a writer: it cuts into your reading time. This month we will discuss how to make a reading list, to keep the creative well filled, and have the information and skills you need to write your desired story. How can you stay up-to date with your genre, while having an understanding of the conversation that built from classics to current? And how do you find time for craft books that will help, given your specific needs? Part of the answer is having a list to work through for your own self-paced professional development.
Join the discussion to consider: How do you maintain your joy as a reader, and find time for pleasure reading? How you read to expand your vision, without letting each book you read derail your voice? How do you find connections between your favorite books and your own work to write effective comparisons for queries and more?
April 15 – How (and if) to Use Prologues and Epilogues – This month we will discuss prologues and epilogues. These are one of the most divisive storytelling techniques. Some publishing professionals hate them, and some readers skip them. How does an effective prologue add to the story, without delaying the story’s start or setting false expectations in the reader’s mind? You have to carefully consider whether a prologue is justified for the specific story you are trying to tell. You have to avoid prologues that amount to worldbuilding or exposition infodumps, or epilogues that explain facts that should have been wrapped up during the story. How can you structure a prologue or epilogue effectively?
Join the discussion to consider: How can you introduce characters in a prologue without diluting the reader’s attachment to the character we meet in the first chapter? How can a prologue or epilogue allow the reader a glimpse of a different time, place or perspective than the protagonist has access to? What is included in a satisfying epilogue?
May 20 – Understanding the “Mirror Moment” — This month we will discuss mirror moments. These are moments in the middle of a story (usually near the midpoint reversal), that lead your protagonist to self-reflection and a forward shift in character arc. How do you write a mirror moment that shift the narrative, and allow for a preview of the end of the character’s arc, rather than stopping the forward momentum with too much introspection? Part of the answer is understanding who your protagonist is, and how the character flaw the arc is designed to help her overcome pivots around the mirror. You can even use the mirror moment scene as a key to outlining the rest of the book.
Join the discussion to consider: How do you give the character the correct flaw for the mirror moment and the conclusion of the character arc to feed into your intended theme? How can a discovery writer use a mirror moment to figure out where the external plot needs to wind up? How does the mirror moment serve as a hypothesis about the character and human nature that will be tested by the rest of the story?
June 17 – Making the Most of Your MacGuffin – MacGuffins are characters or objects that seem important to the story, but really serve as impetus to get the characters to the real heart of the story. This month we will how to get the most mileage out of every MacGuffin you introduce. You need to choose the right MacGuffin to connect into the story in a way that feels seamless. The MacGuffin can create the framework for the story, and set up the themes, while remaining somewhat meaningless in and of itself.
Join the discussion to consider: How can your MacGuffin also serve as a symbol in the story? How do you avoid writing MacGuffins that feel meaningless, or are confusing or unexplained? How can a MacGuffin serve as an extension of a specific character?
July 15 – Effective Foreshadowing — This month we will discuss effective foreshadowing. When you have a big twisty story, you will have to craft a number of plot twists and revelation moments. You want readers to be able to process those moments, without feeling like the twists came out of nowhere. How do you foreshadow these moments without feeling heavy-handed – or nonexistent? Part of the answer comes from understanding the point of the story, and of the twist moments. You want readers to not guess the twists – which seem inevitable given the story’s themes – but in retrospect, not believe that they missed the clues.
Join the discussion to consider: What are the various types of foreshadowing and revelations? How can a discovery writer seed in foreshadowing during revision? How can an outliner engineer surprises that feel surprising?
August 19 – Understanding Deus Ex Machina — This month we will consider the concept of Deus Ex Machina. a plot device that relies on unlikely occurrence, coincidence, or external manipulation to solve an important plot problem. Readers usually find this technique unsatisfying (unless it is part of a comedy). By necessity, plots require events to happen in a certain way that connects events. So how can you avoid having the pieces of your plot coming together in a way that feels like Deus Ex Machina? It comes down to believability, foreshadowing, and subtlety. It takes skill to use those tools to create a satisfying story.
Join the discussion to consider: When doe coincidences seem natural, and work for the story instead of against it? When can Deus Ex Machina be used intentionally to create a specific effect? How can you weave plot elements together naturally?
September 16 – Understanding and Using Irony — This month we will discuss the types of irony, and how to effectively weave them into your story. How does irony increase reader satisfaction as a “participant” interacting with your story? How can irony bring complexity to a story, and create an element of suspense? It’s all about understanding how to set expectation and then subvert it, and to engineer surprise (as irony comes from the same kind of disconnect that leads to humor). How can you intentionally scenes to make the best use of potential irony?
Join the discussion to consider: What is the difference between irony and serendipity? Between irony and coincidence? How can dramatic irony drive an entire narrative? How does a first person narrator’s sense of humor affect how irony is portrayed in the story?
October 21 – Using Your Story’s Premise to Discovery Write — This month we will discuss how to write an effective story premise, and how to use that premise to decide what does and does not fit in your story. Having a well-developed premise works like having a thesis statement for an essay, or a hypothesis for an experiment. How can you use your premise to keep you on track if you discovery write? Having an idea of the story’s main plot question, and the protagonist’s goal together with what opposition forces are standing in the protagonist’s way gives you an idea where the story needs to begin and end.
Join the discussion to consider: How do you ask the right plot question to drive your entire story? How do you use your protagonist’s goal to set the story’s stakes? How can you use your premise to develop your story’s antagonist?
November 18 – Popular Plotting Methods — This month we will discuss some popular plotting methods, and how you can decide which one works to the best advantage for your story. Often, a writer’s learning style lends itself to one particular plotting method. For other writers, it can change by project. Having an idea of what tools are available can help you find a way to understand the heart and meaning of your story, so you can clearly get your plot events and themes across to the reader.
Join the discussion to consider: How can you overlay one or more plot models on top of each other, to look at your story in different ways? Do you need a plotting method that is specific to your genre? How can you break the “rules” of structure if you are writing nonlinear narrative or other experimental forms?
December 16 – The Psychological Underpinnings of Storytelling — This month we will discuss the psychological reasons that make people respond to and remember stories. Understanding why imagery helps people really see your story world, or why specific details are required to get us to remember universal concepts, can help you make more intentional choices in your writing.
Join the discussion to consider: Why do people read or watch film/television? How do readers get so attached to characters that they start to think of them as real people, so that some writing decisions can seem “Out of character?” How can you use backstory to inform the main story, without destroying the illusion of the story world?
Previous Topics can be found Here.