Research: Interview with the writing instructor Agnete
I call Agnete while she's watching her kids at the playground. She's a writing instructor and playwright with a background in IT and narrative theory.
Agenete tells me about how she teaches narrative. She has a presentation she always uses. It starts with Aristoteles and goes through the basic tools of storytelling. Her philosophy, and why she loves teaching narrative, is that people should have as much help writing. The fewer decisions they have to make during the process the better. "Constraints creates creativity."
"By asking yourself question during your process you strengthen your writing. Even if you don't answer that question."
"Tools that help you write and build a narrative is essential to creating a story."
She tells me about the basic storytelling principles, like opposites, hero's journey, good helpers and motivation. Story is all about the relationship between opposites.
"Most people know it as the Hollywood model. But it's really Ibsen who came up with it."
When I ask her about biographies, she says it is a completely different game. But good biographies follow the same structures. Astrid Lindgren's biography is a prime example of Freytag's triangle. "She goes through so much opposition, but then in the exact middle of the book she writes Pippi, and suddenly she has success."
"Biographies are often about the fight for something, a goal or purpose. It can be about having children, or becomming the CEO of the biggest company."
"Biographies about living people tend to follow the classical Hollywood model, which is another name for Freytags triangle."
"Obituaries tend to be embarrassingly boring. Because they are writing by people who usually dont write and because they exaggerate and embellishes the person."
Agent tells me that writing a good obituary is about finding what is significant in that persons life. But also about what was significant for the time and place the person lived in. It's all about deselecting.
I ask Agnete about how she approaches helping people with personal stories. She tells me that you can spend endless amounts of time thinking about the narrative. It's important to ask open questions without trivialising that persons life. To flatten the meaning.
When I tell Agnete about my project she is very excited. "It's a great idea. It's so good I'm wondering why nobody else has thought of it."
"It's a perfect way to create constraints and lower the barrier for writing. For people who are proficient writers it will help with creative questions, and for people who aren't trained it will be a great help."