A standing room only crowd squeezed into the Hyatt Embassy CD Friday morning at 10AM to learn How to Write a Story in an Hour. Nancy Knight guided the attendees in determining characters, story arc, and setting. After a brief reminder that every story needs a beginning, middle, and end along with a protagonist and an antagonist, the room began to build a story.
Starting with the protagonist, the room decided as a whole that the character would be a non-binary human with an ambiguous name, Alex, and they/them pronouns. Next, determining that an antagonist such as a preacher would be too predictable, the group considered a parent or other family member until they finally landed on Science teacher, which made Alex a high school student and the story part of the YA genre. Knight asked if the room was interested in the story arc including a romantic element, to which the room heartily replied, “No!”
Once the two characters were decided, there was great debate about how the Science teacher would antagonize Alex. Again, a romantic dalliance was suggested and denied. At this point, Knight mentioned that this was the first time in all the years this panel has been held that the protagonist was a human. More debate brought the group around to realizing they would prefer a humanoid character, and Alex became a non-binary elf attending a human high school.
Finally, they decided the teacher would know a secret about Alex, but which one… their elven identity or their non-binary one. A mention of Snape from the Harry Potter books sent the discussion down a rabbit hole of conversations about the two being at cross-purposes, the teacher being part of a secret society, and the teacher possibly also being a race other than human.
Though the conversation and ideas were interesting, the group got bogged down often and, unfortunately, they were unable to finalize the story in the hour. The biggest takeaway from this exercise would likely be to brainstorm multiple ideas and see which ones work better together first before writing your story.