Monday, May 16, 2011

Michael Hauge and Write on Vancouver 2011

I've just come back from a weekend writing conference, Write on Vancouver, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America. This year their guest speaker was Michael Hauge. When I told my writing friends who our speaker was I was expecting their response to be along the lines of 'Oh my gosh, really, you got Michael Hauge!' but instead I received looks of bafflement. "Who is Michael Hauge?" they asked.

I was looking for a topic to blog about and thought, great! I've got my topic, but I'm finding that it isn't as easy to describe who Michael Hauge is as I thought it would be.

Michael Hauge is, among other things, a story coach. I think of him as being like an emergency surgeon for your screenplay or manuscript. He breaks up a story into six stages: Setup, New Situation, Progress, Complications and Higher Stakes, Final Push and Aftermath. Between each stage is a turning point. Stage One and Stage Two comprise Act One, Stages Three and Four comprise Act Two and Stage Five and Six make up Act Three.

Sometimes when I talk about plot structure someone will make the comment that it is formulaic. Eileen Cook mentioned that typically a face has two eyes a nose and a mouth but most of us manage to look different from one another. Just because a manuscript follows a structure doesn't mean it is going to be like every other manuscript that has followed that structure. (I love Eileen, she is witty. I don't know her personally, but if you ever get the chance to hear her speak I would encourage you to; her books are good too!)

Anyone who is interested in Michael Hauge and his ideas on story structure might like to visit his new website,


  1. Most of the presenters seem romance-oriented (e.g. editors Kathleen Scheibling from Harlequin and Heather Osborn from Samhain). Makes sense, as the RWA chapter sponsored it. Did you attend any of their presentations/workshops, or only Hauge's?

  2. Hi azarimba, thanks for commenting :) To answer your question, yes, I did! Eileen Cook and Allison Beda ( put on a workshop called Books Into Film. Allison is adapting Eileen's book, Unpredictable, as a film and the two of them discussed the process of taking a book and making a movie of it. It was fascinating to learn more about the process and about how screenplays differ from books.


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