All Pennwriters Courses are conducted on the Groups.io platform. Courses are run on this discussion board and are NOT completed in a “live” presentation format. There is no required time you must log in to participate in this month’s long course.
Conflict is the engine that drives a story forward, whether it is external (character versus society) or internal (character versus self). Conflict propels the narrative through character development or a sequence of events known as the plot.
Using character development, dialogue, and exposition, conflict should be buried within in the narration and allowed to resurface like land mines in the course of the story. However, writers must be careful not to bury these kernels too deeply, stifling the reader and stalemating their storytelling process.
Week One: Nice House, But Where’s the Furniture?
Course discussion about storyline versus plot and how conflict works within each concept. An investigation of the character archetypes and how to develop conflict based on these roles. What will characters get versus what they want versus what they need, and how will these answers generate conflict. The writing assignment will begin with writers identifying the essential archetypes, motivations, and tracing the path to ‘happily ever after’ in their own work.
Week Two: You’re Not Dorothy Anymore; You’re the Wizard!
Recognize your role as both reader and writer! What are the essential elements that make a good first chapter pop?! Writers will discuss ways to plant kernels of conflict and intrigue for readers without revealing too much via info dumps. The writing assignment will be to write that first chapter and incorporate elements that will generate conflict.
Week Three: Reap What You Sow—Writer’s Spotlight and Analysis
Roundtable discussion and analysis of the writing process. Warning: There be dragons spoilers here. The idea is to get under the covers and dig deep into how elements from the prior week have been employed. Writers will share their highs and lows (or blocks) in terms of the traits that make a great first chapter. Did you nail it or did you stumble? Writing exercise: Conflict Outline Exercise—Gathering the Threads.
Week Four: First Round, Bring Your Horses to the Show Ring
Writers will share their work for critique and analysis with a focus on evaluating the use of conflict that will enhance reader interest. This is a collegial discussion to uplift, celebrate, and encourage.
Patricia A. Jackson is an incorrigible pantser! By day she is a high school Language Arts teacher in Pennsylvania, and by night she chases a vividly, overactive imagination with spurs and a lightsaber. Her debut novel, Forging A Nightmare, an urban fantasy, is due out November 2021 from Angry Robot Books.
She has published a number of short stories in the Star Wars Universe for WestEnd Games’ quarterly Star Wars Adventure Journal. Her best known works are Black Sands of Socorro, a smugglers’ sourcebook about people of color for Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game, and The Final Exit, a short story about a dark Jedi’s redemption.
When not writing, she’s gaming. Her favorite pastime being Mass Effect. She facilitates The Beautiful People, a student-run club for LGBTQIA+ students that promotes safe spaces within the school community. A very proud member of Pennwriters and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America organization, she also rides horses and trains for competition with her real-life Nightmares Maya and Indy.