In Depth #5

In Depth is going great. I had my fourth official meeting with my mentor on Wednesday, March 6 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm, and my fifth official meeting on Thursday, March 14 from 4:00pm – 5:00pm. 

I transcribed a piece of a conversation I had with my mentor on March 6. We talked about the developmental questions I had come up with and answered. For those who don’t know, a developmental question helps eliminate plot holes and clarify the rules and logistics of a novel after you plot the story but before you write. It gives you a better understanding of how everything in your novel works and is especially helpful when you have a complex story with ideas such as prophecies and alternate dimensions. 

Note: I tried to transcribe the conversation in a more general form as we talked very deeply into the logistics of my novel I would need to explain in person to understand at the point I’m at now. I’ve still included the topic, but I took out the complicated terms that only myself and my mentor would understand. Even still, some of the developmental questions will seem strange without context. I apologize.

M: Myself L: My mentor

L: “So what is your plan for today?”

M: “Well, I was hoping we could go over the developmental questions I finished from the last meeting and then if there’s time go over the next steps together.”

L: “Alright, so let’s see your work!”

(I pulled out my computer with the developmental questions)

M: “So the first thing I did was puzzle out how the prophecy works. Who made it, what it means, why it’s under the school, where it came from, that sort of thing.”

L: “Okay.”

M: (I explained my ideas)

L: “So one thing, how would this General know about the prophecy? How does the General write about Raven if it hasn’t happened yet?”

M: “Oh, I thought about that and I had a couple of ideas. (I then explained my ideas)”

L: “Okay so that’s good, I understand how that would affect the prophecy and the General. Personally, I see (the idea) laid out like this. (Explains her understanding of my explanation)”

M: “Yes, that’s what I was going for.”

L: “So how do the readers find out about this?”

M: “Oh, I had an idea about that. I was thinking something like (explain).”

L: “Now, would that be a prologue or a separate piece?”

M: “It would be a prologue that sets up the story for the characters.”

L: “Ah. Well, based on my experience you would have to be careful about it since story should begin with your character.”

M: “I understand, so I thought it could be a half scene as a hook then transition to the characters.”

We then continued to talk about the rest of the developmental questions in a similar pattern (I would explain, my mentor would sometimes ask for deeper clarification, I would dig deeper prompted by my mentor, repeat).

In that part of our conversation, I identified 5 hats: the white hat, the yellow hat, the black hat, the green hat, and the blue hat.

The blue hat came first: 

L: “So what is your plan for today?”

M: “Well, I was hoping we could go over the developmental questions I finished from the last meeting and then if there’s time go over the next steps together.”

L: “Alright, so let’s see your work!”

Just like the start of every meeting, after greetings and catching up my mentor would ask me what I wanted to accomplish in that meeting. I would explain my ideas and run the plan by her, and she would then agree and follow/lead when required. The blue hat defines the focus of the conversation, and it allows the other hats to fall into a pattern that repeated for each developmental question.

Next came the white hat:

M: “So the first thing I did was puzzle out how the prophecy works. Who made it, what it means, why it’s under the school, where it came from, that sort of thing.”

L: “Okay.”

M: (I explained my ideas)

The facts and information were laid out every time I explained my ideas/answers for the developmental questions. My mentor would follow up with what else the reader would need to know and what other questions were related to the discussion question. Each explanation was converted into hard facts within the story; the laws and rules as to how the ‘supernatural’/indescribable worked in the context of my story (ie. the prophecy).

The white hat led to the black hat:

L: “So one thing, how would this general know about the prophecy? How does the General write about Raven if it hasn’t happened yet?”

M: “Oh, I thought about that and I had a couple of ideas. (I then explained my ideas)”

——————

M: “Yes, that’s what I was going for.”

L: “So how do the readers find out about this?”

——————

M: “Oh, I had an idea about that. I was thinking something like (explain).”

L: “Now, would that be a prologue or a separate piece?”

My mentor analyzed my answers and responded with critical questions that indicated logic I’d overlooked or hadn’t explained. The idea of a developmental question is essentially looking at a novel with the black hat lens, finding the plot holes/faults and problems in story/logic, and fixing it through critical and creative thinking.

Following the black hat was the green hat:

L: “So one thing, how would this general know about the prophecy? How does the General write about Raven if it hasn’t happened yet?”

M: “Oh, I thought about that and I had a couple of ideas. (I then explained my ideas)”

——————

L: “So how do the readers find out about this?”

M: “Oh, I had an idea about that. I was thinking something like (explain).”

The questions my mentor proposed led to me coming up with ways to solve and fix the problems in logic. My mentor would quite literally ‘ask for ideas’, and if I hadn’t already solved that question I would have to come up with a new answer, often on the spot. In other words, the critical judgement of my mentor led to creative ideas and alternatives to solving the developmental questions.

Finally came the yellow hat:

M: “It would be a prologue that sets up the story for the characters.”

L: “Ah. Well, based on my experience you would have to be careful about it since story should begin with your character.”

M: “I understand, so I thought it could be a half scene as a hook then transition to the characters.”

The yellow hat is for sharing experiences and finding some insight into why something works or doesn’t work. My mentor shared her past knowledge on prologues with me, and how they are not always the best for a story. I used the information she taught me to find an insight; would a prologue add value to my story? In my case, I believe yes because it sets up the world with a hook that you don’t get the conclusion to until later. The idea could not have come without the conversation where we discussed what would best suit/benefit my novel.

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