or, What I’m Asking Her After Having Attended the LERA Writer’s Conference: Story Mastery with Michael Hauge
or, Hey, Dani, What’s the Dealio?
This past weekend I attended my LERA writing group’s Enchanting the Page Conference and our guest was Michael Hauge, a story doctor and script consultant who was worked with, among other people, Will Smith. (!!!) On day two of the conference, a group of thirteen of us (ooooh, insert Twilight Zone music) gathered in a freezing cold hotel “library” and spent ten hours breaking down the stories we’re working on, with Michael Hauge guiding us through character development and plot points. It was intense. It was scary. It was emotional. It was exhausting. And at the end, I was overwhelmed by sadness, the kind of sadness that hits you on the last day of summer camp, when you’re saying goodbye to your friends before getting on the bus to go home.
I could work on story stuff all day. What Michael Hauge helped me zero in on is character development. These are the questions I’m asking Dani, my story protagonist, before I spend the next three months (or a year) figuring out plot crap.
- What is your ordinary world? What kind of life are you living that would make you drop everything and go on this crazy road trip I have you going on with a guy you barely know?
- What is your wound? What happened to you in your childhood to make you believe you have to take care of other people but not get too close to anybody?
- What is your external goal? What do you hope to accomplish? What is the thing you need to do in the end that will satisfy you? What does this end game look like?
- What are you most afraid of? If you don’t do this thing, what will happen to you, or what are you afraid will happen to you?
- What is you essence? What is the thing about you that is true? In order to be a fulfilled and complete person, what do you have to let go of and what do you have to embrace, no matter how scary or painful it might be?
It’s occurring to me that these are all real good questions to ask of myself. You know, for my real life. Oh. Hell. No. That would cost me six months (or a year) of nonstop therapy.