Learning Plot: An Interview with Marni Freedman by Adria Britton
23 November 2013
Location: A comfortable lounge that smells like coffee
Thinking about: How to write a plot
Whilst browsing Pinterest, a website teeming with random/useful/entertaining pictures and articles, I stumbled upon this lovely photo:
In order to write a successful and interesting story, a writer needs to incorporate a plot. And no, I am not referring to a garden plot (though I appreciate the groan-provoking pun in this photo).
People (myself included) can find plot development difficult and intimidating. Let not this intimidating task stop you from writing! Instead, address the problem.
One way to overcome the issue of plot-block is by attending Marni Freedman’s upcoming class, titled, “Learning Plot from The Masters.”
Marni Freedman is a successful writer who, among other works, penned the play, “Two Goldsteins on Acid,” (produced in Los Angeles), and “Playing Mona Lisa” which was made into a film. She is a script doctor who has worked for Fox Searchlight and Disney, and currently teaches workshops for San Diego Writers, Ink (like this upcoming plot class).
Addressing the seemingly stressful task of writing a plot, Freedman will share a new approach to plotting that she describes as “easy-to-understand-and-apply.” Also, as the title of the workshop implies, much of these plot lessons will be drawn from ideas observed in the works of the masters of writing.
In order to establish a healthy garden plot, a gardener needs his/her gloves and shovel, and can additionally use tools such as: rakes, tillers, loppers, hoses, picks… Similarly, in order to establish a rich story plot, a writer needs tools. In this upcoming workshop, Freedman hopes to share those tools with class participants, along with introducing some “optional tools” that give writers more versatility to help diminish the fear of creating plots.
I asked Freedman some questions regarding plot and her class. Read on to see her insightful responses!
1.) As someone who has worked as a script doctor and has therefore read an abundance of scripts, what elements of a plot make for a strong, well-written script?
That is a complicated question! But overall I’d have to say that scripts (screenplays) are the most rigid, most structured of all the forms of writing. To make a strong script, the writer must match equal parts structure and equal parts voice. Voice is that magical thing that happens when writers have honed their craft, are willing to take some risks and, most importantly, are willing to be authentic.
2.) What aspect of this class do you think will offer the most unique information?
Most unique? Probably my approach to story shape. I’ve created a 15-point plotting tool that many writers have come to rely upon when creating their outlines. Having said that, I will also introduce the writers to the Save the Cat Beat Sheet, which is very popular among screenplay writers, and the Hero’s Journey Plotting tool, which many writer’s deem essential in crafting a strong plot. Another thing that writers find unique about this class is that memoirists can use the plotting tool to create a structure for their memoir.
3.) What part of this class are you looking forward to teaching the most?
I am most looking forward to teaching how to combine structure with risk-taking. It seems like the two would not go together—but they actually go hand in hand. I love to work with writers on two levels. One is the marketplace level—the level of getting their work out there in professional and publishable form. The other is the soul level—making sure that the piece is expressing what they really want to say. When a writer is able to do both, it’s amazing to watch.
4.) Do you have any suggestions for participants as to materials they should bring?
No need to bring anything except for something to take notes like a notebook or laptop. And an open mind. We get our best work done when the writer’s mind is open.
For writers, the class looks especially appealing because:
- Plot functions as the backbone for most novels, memoirs, and screenplays. So, learning a reliable template to create plot ensures writers that they will have a well-structured backbone.
- Marni Freedman has plenty of experience in this field, and therefore will have plenty of tips and tricks to share.
- Gathering with groups of writers always excites the creative juices in the mind.
Come one, come all! We can become literary gardeners by learning how to create a plot at the “Learning Plot with the Masters” workshop on November 30th.
Here is the link to purchase a place in the class: http://www.sandiegowriters.org/1030-learning-plot-from-the-masters-with-marni-freedman/
Adria Britton currently interns at San Diego Writers, Ink. She is majoring in creative writing and minoring in non-profit organization business management at Point Loma Nazarene University. She has traveled extensively, including an experience living abroad in Chile for a semester to learn Spanish and invest her time into a new community. You can contact Adria at: firstname.lastname@example.org