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Storytelling Structure: Lining Up the Bones of a YA Novel with Emily X.R. Pan

Creative Lab Syllabus

Whether you're a plotter or a pantser (or a plantser!), at some point we must all face this truth: Our stories need structure. This workshop is about exploring what connects the dots in fiction. We'll use those observations to consider our ways of thinking about plot. This session will include hands-on practice, so come ready to offer your ideas and voices!

Part 1: Introduction to the question of how we think about Story.

Part 2: We’ll do a case study, looking at a well-known fairytale and talking through its traditional structure. We’ll lay out the foundations of its plot to reverse engineer it.

Part 3: Breakout groups! We'll mess around with the abovementioned plot and create our own retellings, followed by discussion of how our changes would affect the reading experience. Each group will share what they come up with, and we’ll talk about why it works.

Part 4: Now for our original work. We’ll practice as a whole group, brainstorming on the spot to see how the shape of a brand-new story organically forms from the questions on structure.

Part 5: Writing prompts to dig deeper into specific storytelling elements within your WIP.


*Please have in mind a work-in-progress or an idea you’re eager to dig into when you arrive!*

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