My not-too-fantastic Script idea

March 29, 2012

So, it’s been crazy with the NaNoEdMo editing and the car buying and a few other things, but I’ve sorta come up with a notion for Script Frenzy that isn’t science fiction or paranormal fantasy or anything else that’s tough to produce. In fact, it even falls a little bit under the heading of ‘write what you know.’

I don’t have a crazy bulletin board of index cards for it this time, just an idea with a character and a situation, a plot idea about what he wants. I’m not even sure if there’s going to be a clear antagonist, or maybe it’ll be one of those plots where the MC is his own worst enemy. But this will be the story of a passionate Star Wars fan, who vows to find the love of his life by going on blind dates arranged through sci-fi geek groups. 🙂 I’m thinking of calling it ‘Geek at Heart.’

What do you think? Who should the bad guy be? What will the ‘All is Lost’ moment entail?

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Outlining a short story

December 26, 2011

There’s a new short story contest up at the Straight Dope board, and I decided that this time, I was going to put some more thought into outlining it, not just start writing the first idea I thought of when I got the prompt.

That wasn’t particularly easy. I had a notion what I wanted to do when I started, mostly because of the picture, which had a clock and a bell hanging from a chain, (which immediately made me think of time travel or time manipulation,) but when I tried to apply what I’d learned in Kansas and from other workshops and classes over the past year, I kept ending up on storylines that were missing conflict, or a good antagonist, or something else important like that.

And time was somewhat running out – the contest rules specify that you have sixty hours from when you collect the prompt – I sent in my email yesterday morning before leaving for Christmas with the family, (hoping that I’d be able to mull over ideas in the back of my mind,) and so I need to have my finished story in by tomorrow night.

This evening, though, after I printed off some handouts from Julie Czerneda’s site, things suddenly started to fall into place. I ended up writing nearly 1800 words in an hour and a bit, some of which will have to get cut to finish the outline in under 2000 words, but it’s a great start, and I think that I’ll keep the entire first draft without cuts to refer to later. I’d been mulling over the idea of enclosed spaces where time runs slower or faster than normal, and then got an idea about one possible application of ‘fast time bottles’ that really got things moving.

Here’s the outline that I’ve been working off. Note that ‘sequel’ is a technical term that I learned from James Gunn in the Kansas workshop – it’s not a seperate work of fiction, but a kind of scene that’s less active and conflict-driven than the usual kind, but serves to bridge between proper scenes.

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Novel revision: Structure and conflict

August 21, 2011

Well, I had my final class session for the Storywonk revision class this afternoon, and overall the class wasn’t really what I was expecting.

I learned quite a lot, but I guess I thought that the manuscripts that I had were ready to the point where they just needed some fairly small changes made to them and they’d be ready to get queried.

Now, I don’t think that anymore. Most of the class wasn’t about the small-changes stuff, though Lani did cover that in ‘The paper edit’, which was today’s topic, actually.

But everything up to this point has been on more fundamental stuff – the structure of the book, the conflict, the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist, the role of the major supporting characters – and I’ve started to see that I have a lot of work to do here. I think I’m nearly finished rewriting the basic structure of “The way back home” to up the stakes of the conflict between Naveli and Merlik, but I’ll have a lot of rewriting to do to match things up to that structure.

Which in a way, should be exciting. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m terrified or just disappointed.

So, here’s the first part of my structure – what do you think, does it sound like a story that you’d want to read? Are the stakes high from the beginning? Do things keep on getting worse?

Opening scene: While having fun with her friends at the Royal Jubilee, Princess Naveli is taken prisoner by rebel agents, along with her pet ferret Ereyu, her friend and bodyguard Tuma – and her possibly-crush, the Lady Jenna.

Things get worse: At the rebel fortress, Naveli meets Merlik (change name?) the warlock who arranged for her capture. He scoffs at her references to ransom, and tortures Tuma and Jenna in front of her to try and break her spirit. Naveli tries to use magik to escape, but the rebels have taken precautions against the few elementary wind magik spells that she knows.

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Thoughts on rewriting a plot structure.

August 14, 2011

I’ve been working for about a week now on revising the plot structure of my manuscript “The Way Back Home”, as part of my participation in Lani Diane Rich’s Storywonk Revision class.

It’s been tough, partly just from coming to terms with Lani’s critique of the structure outline that I submitted and facing the idea that the book that I’ve spent several years doing cosmetic surgery on has bigger and deeper problems that need to be worked on.

I fell in love with bits that came out of me during Nano, and those are the toughest things to let go of, to admit to myself that they don’t really serve the storyline I want, at the end of the day (year? decade??) to tell. Merlik, the bad guy who I showed you a bit of in the I hate you Blogfest, is kinduv a good example of that. Not that Merlik’s character is bad in general, he’s essentially a powerful antagonist, but I hadn’t met him yet when I started to tell the story. He was first mentioned in stories told to my main characters around halfway through the book, and then finally appeared in that little showdown with Naveli.

So there were some things that had ultimately to be folded into his plan that weren’t really Merlik’s style, and most of all, I had to come up with a way for my heroine to get out of things alive. So I had Merlik spout some mysterious nonsense suggesting that it was his plan that Naveli had escaped, that he wanted her to see the world without her family’s agenda, and that was all.

And I still like that motivation for Merlik, but I’m not sure that I can really sell it and tell a good story, because it’s not a motivation that really puts him into conflict with Naveli. So I’ve been working on revising his motives to make him a badder bad guy, and of course that changes just about everything – it’s a good change, but it means that I’ll have to let go of most of the specifics and start rewriting most of the scenes from scratch.

I’m a little scared about that, but also excited.


Revision on the brain.

July 25, 2011

So, I had my first live Revision class for Storywonk yesterday – it was the second class in the course, but I joined late because of the Polaris craziness and caught up on that class with the on-demand replay, which isn’t as fun as being in chat live and getting to answer questions.

But I’ve got all kinds of things running through my head with all the stuff that Lucy’s covered in class so far, and other things that I’m just thinking of because of tangents. I think I’ve got a good idea for the opening scene, but it’s going to be a big rewrite – partly because, as Lucy points out, the opening scene has a lot that it needs to do.

But I’m also starting to think about ‘the trouble’ from the bad guy’s point of view. My antagonist is really resourceful and clever, and when he decides to take a Princess prisoner, he’s not going to do it by sending armed soldiers into the festival. I think I’ve managed to come up with a much more clever scheme that does him justice, involving poisoning and food vans. Now I just need to figure out how to tell it from the POV of my protagonist, and let her stand up for herself just a little but still end up in the really hot water.

I’ve also got a new beat breakdown up on my corkboard – this one is for my current draft of ‘The Long Way Home’:

Each card is a scene, with the sequence of scenes in the book going ‘Summer Glau style‘ back and forth from the top left down to the bottom left. Some types of scenes are color coded:

  • Yellow – ‘anchor scene’ candidates, as per Lucy’s structure
  • Pink – key scenes for Ereyu the ferret
  • Green – scenes involving my antagonist, Merlik, or where his influence is felt.
  • Blue – flashbacks.

So, I guess I’ll leave it at that for now, except to ask – if you’re not doing revision, then what have you been up to for July?


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