Saturday, April 17, 2010


Phoenix College puts on a writer’s conference every year, called MICROBURST.
This year:

Les Edgerton demonstrated how analyzing film structure can enhance the fiction writer’s work. This event was designed to give you the tools to create riveting stories and scripts. Edgerton led participants step by step through an analysis of Callie Khouri’s award-winning screenplay as we watched Thelma & Louise. “Virtually every frame includes a valuable teaching moment for fiction writers.”

A few of my notes from Microburst

  • Thelma was the protagonist.

  • I missed the definition for: "inciting incident". ugh.

The inciting incident in THELMA AND LOUISE:
When Thelma attempts to get permission from hubby to go on weekend trip with Louise.

Thelma: Hon.

Hubby: What!?

(She doesn’t ask. She has already embarked upon her character journey.)

Thelma: Nothing. What do you want for dinner?

There is almost no back story in THELMA AND LOUISE. When it does come, it is at almost to the halfway mark. And is peppered. Hinted. Never told.

The readers should do some work. The readers want to do some work. They don’t want you to tell. Don’t have the character sit down over coffee and spill back story.

• When Louise shoots the man hurting Thelma, this is the point of no return - not the inciting incident.

• Get out of your character’s head.

• Water cooler moment = a scene that people will be discussing around the water cooler.

One in THELMA AND LOUISE is when they get pulled over by the cop, take him hostage, and:

Thelma tells Louise: Shoot the radio.

Louise shoots the AM/FM.

Thelma says: The police radio, Louise!

• You want at least 6 water cooler moments for a best seller/blockbuster.

• Protagonist has to make her own decision – for herself – no one can make it for her.

Thelma: what are you doing?

Louise: I’m not getting caught.

Thelma: Okay then, let’s not get caught.

Louise: What?

Thelma: Let’s keep going.

Louise: What do you mean?

Thelma: Go.

Louise: You sure?

Thelma: Yeah.

An ending must have elements of loss and win.

Loss in THELMA AND LOUISE is obvious: All.

Win in THELMA AND LOUISE is: Freedom from men, on their own terms.

I know lots of you are at Desert Dreams and other writer’s conferences this weekend. What can you share?



Diane Markins said...

I'd love to know more about the conference. Native Phx girl and never heard of it before! Is it for nonfiction writers too?

KM said...

Great examples! Movies can help a lot with fiction writing, since books are a lot like movies these days.

Shawna Williams said...

Your blog is amazing! I picture a scene in my head like a movie before I write. It helps with pov and description. I have two blog awards for you, KM.

Carrie Cooper said...

Carrie @

I didnt attend the conference, (live in TX), but you offered some great notes. I love the Water Cooler tip. Im writing a nonfiction, but I can still apply that same truth. I need to have at least 6 amazing points that people will be talking about for days. Thanks for the recommendations!!

LynnRush said...

Wow. That's a lot. Great examples. :-)

Lori Lundquist said...

I'm a little late on the blog tour for the past couple of days... but these are AMAZING tips!! Thanks for sharing. They'll be on my mind now while I write!

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks so much for the shout-out and I'm so glad you enjoyed the presentation. I've got a book proposal out on this subject, working title: A FICTION WRITER'S WORKSHOP AT THE BIJOU and hope I can secure a publisher. Wish me luck! I think it can be a very helpful book for fiction writers.

Please visit me at my own blog if you get a chance, at I have a post there on more on Thelma & Louise you may enjoy. I'm also posting your blog on my bloglist and hope you gain some new friends from it.

I loved my visit to Phoenix College and meeting all of you great folks! Hope you'll have me back sometime. I'm teaching courses for the college online now and hope I see you in class.

Blue skies,