• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Building the Story: Pt. 01

Now that we’ve gotten some brainstorming done, it’s time to start working on the actual story. For the last couple weeks I’ve been working on additional brainstorming and I think I’ve come up with some pretty interesting ideas.

For the next three weeks I want to nail down the three main things: Character, Setting, and Plot.

This week, I want to spend some time looking at all our characters; Main, Antagonist, and Secondary.

First let’s look at Mains. For this story that would be Peter and Celeste:

Peter: 20 years old

Motivations: Peter is motivated by a sense of honor. He feels that because he was able to see Angels before they left that he’s somehow special and should carry on with their work as best he can. He has studied scriptures and feels he’s a Nephilim, the only one in the world.

Additional Notes: Peter was 15 when the Angels all left. He was standing on a subway platform when they all evanesced into mist. Since then he’s been hearing the angels screaming in his mind and they are there in his vision just out of sight, but always there, haunting him.

Peter at his core is a good kid. He wants to help people. He has since taken on a persona of a Black Angel. Kind of like Batman from the comics he read as a kid (no longer produced). He’s a vigilante who deals out street justice to try to bring down crime in his city.

Celeste: 9 years old

Motivations: Celeste feels she’s special because of the Angels. Calls them her protectors. She’s always seem them her entire life, never knew anything different. She’s young, so she just mostly wants to help out the group that she lives with. This will all change when she meets Peter for the first time.

Additional Notes: Was only four when the Angels left the earth. Since then she’s always seen them, just out of her vision, but they are calm. They make no noise. She has no memories of her life before the angels left.

Celeste lives with Lady Katherine. She goes out with the other bigger kids to help steal and forage for food for their small gang. Celeste is a natural, having grown up on the depraved streets of New Harlem, plus her natural tendencies as a Nephilim giving her extra powers makes her an excellent thief.

 

Secondly, our Antagonist, Bael.

Bael: Unknown Age

Motivations: He wants to rule Earth.

Additional Notes: One of the demons of the underworld who has been looking for a way to stay in in the mortal realm in his own body. Up till now hasn’t been able to do it but he figure out a way to banish all the angels while allowing himself to come into this world and stay.

He’s currently working on getting more of his demon army to come to the mortal realm, but there is a restriction they have to deal with with mortal bodies that makes it go slow, though through births possibly they could have an exponential growth over time? It’s why it will be key to stop it before it goes too long.

 

Finally, our secondary characters:

Father Gary: Early 60’s

Motivations: He’s CRAZY! Poor man has lost his mind since the fall and spouts scriptures.

Additional Notes: 50’s ish. Ex bishop of a Catholic Parrish. Wanders around New Harlem with his ratty-ass-bible quoting scriptures. He’s totally crazy as far as everyone around him is concerned.

Lady Katharine: Late 40’s

Motivations: Katharine just wants to help people. She feels like she missed the rapture when all the angels left and is abandoned here on the earth. She wants to feel right with God but thinks her sins have doomed her to a life here on this hell-earth. She tries to help as many people as she can to atone for her sins.

Additional Notes: Lady Katharine used to be a nun before the Evancesance. She now takes care of kids/runs a small gang to help these kids have some kind of normal life.

There we have it! Next week we will dive into the Setting! Let me know anything you like!

Ideaifying Pt 6: Side-word on process

I wanted to have an aside on what it is I’m doing here, and a little thought about how long writing can take.

Normally this entire brainstorming process takes place all in one day. I generally sit down for about an hour (for a short story), and just dump down words on the page until I have nothing more to say. Novels are far, far longer. For this blog, however, I’ve been breaking them up each week, and giving myself some time to ruminate on the things I did the week prior.

This doesn’t mean that I take all of my stories from a single word to a full outline in one day. Far from it. Ideas need to percolate to allow the cream of the crop to rise to the surface. I’m actually enjoying having this semi-force gap in between brainstorming sessions, it’s giving me a different perspective each time I sit down.

I’ve heard it said before that an overnight success takes ten years to obtain.

What does that even mean? Here is my thought; it means that the author has poured over their work for ten years, ideas mulling in their head, jotting down things on the train or the middle of the night. Spending sleepless nights re-reading over old notes to put them all into one place, then writing the product.

And that’s just draft 1. They edit and edit, agonizing over every chapter, paragraph, phrase, and word. They fix commas, delete entire chapters, re-write the ending four times and the beginning ten times. Then, they delete the first four chapters and re-do them from scratch.

They cut entire characters. They take one character with too much going on and split them into two.

This is all a lot of work, and many published authors, from what I’ve seen, talk about their process much like this.

Only then do they sell their book to a publisher and “suddenly” come up with a half-million dollar publishing deal.

The rest of the community may have just heard this new author’s name for the first time when they got their deal, but for them it’s been a long journey. And this is just one of the many stories. Some authors have written 7-13 books by the time they sell their first one. Others sell that first book that took 10 years to write. For every possibly scenario, there’s a different author with a different story of how to make it.

So buckle in, fair reader. Tis a bumpy ride where we go.

Ideaifying Pt 5: Concatenating

This week I promised to take the last few weeks of posts and re-iterate what we have come up with. So here we go!

We started with the word Evanesce.

I then ruminated on what that word meant to me, and came up with a few phrases and other definitions that resonated with me:

Fade Away

Angels

Screaming Masses

Which led to this singular phrase:

Mass of Angels, screaming as they fade into nothing.

This really felt right to me, and has been the phrase I come back to when I think about this world.

We then started with a character, given the angels motif we named him Peter. Then we started brainstorming.

Here are all the things I liked about the brainstorming:

Peter can see angels. The angels help people. They save lives. Unseen heroes.

When he was 15, these angels disappeared. Without their protective detail, crime has increased, death rates by accidents have skyrocketed, disease spreads much more virulently. Social order has taken a hit.

Peter is now twenty years old. He sees himself as the Black Angel. He is trying to fill the void left behind with the angels no longer around to protect humanity.

Peter also still sees angels, but they are just out of his peripheral vision. And they scream. They scream all the time.

One day Peter meets Celeste. Celeste is a little younger than Peter. While he’s around her, the screaming stops. Celeste can also see angels, but they are calm. They don’t scream. When she’s around him, the angels scream.

Both our heroes have “powers”. In addition to being able to see the angels just outside their vision, they have slight precognition to keep them out of trouble, faster reflexes than an average human, and don’t tire as easily.

Turns out Peter and Celeste are Nephilim, as mentioned in Genesis 6:4. They are two halves of a whole. Peter is the demi-spawn of a demon and human, while Celeste is Angel-Human.

Demons, after being cast from heaven have always lacked corporeal bodies, being relegated to spirits. Other than possession, they have never managed to truly own a body here on Earth.

There is one such demon here now known as Bael, who is related to why the angels suddenly went missing.

Peter and Celeste need to go on a mission to kill/banish him, and hopefully bring the angels back to earth to help restore balance.

So there we are! All the details that our brainstorming has come up with, all in one place. Now I have a lot more brainstorming to do, but I’ll do that off-screen from now on, unless my readers really want to see my brain-dumps.

What we need to do here though, now that we have our main characters, and the main “goal” of the story, is to start fleshing out, well, everything. Some people are outliners, some are free-writers (aka pantsers), I’m somewhere in the middle. I come up with ideas by free-writing. I then take a break and put it into a basic outline, which I call a proto-outline. It’s basically a brainstorming exercise in the form of a story start-to-finish. But before we get that far, there are a lot of details that need to be figured out:

These are: the magic, the world, Bael himself, Peter and Celeste and how they fit into this plot, and specifically how their opposite nature makes them the two best suited, or solely suited to resolving this problem.

That’s it for now. Do you have any specific questions you want addressed while we finish up brainstorming? Anything you want to see added to the story, anything you don’t like?

Till next week!

Ideaifying Pt 4: Brainstormening 3

After two weeks of brainstorming, I think I need to do one more in order to flush out what the overall conflict here in the world is. Here goes:

***Beginning of brainstorming dump***

So what am I going to do for the conflict? I think the natural inclination would be that I need these two to team up and go on a bit of a quest to find out what happened to the angels. That’s really the crux of the problem here, not really solving shorter things, but the larger picture. The more I think about it in this light, the more I think this is the story that I want to tell, and the questions that I want answered.

So there I go. I need to know what happened to the angels.

I guess this boils down to two main questions.

What exactly happened to the angels.

Why are these two the ones that will be able to figure it out?

Let’s work on the second question:

1. They are both half-angels. This is exceedingly rare, it’s possible that there actually other half-angels out there, (I really should come up with a name for them, which should be Nephilim.)

2. They are opposites. One hears the screaming of the angels, the other never hears them unless the two of them are near each other, and I’m talking physically.

3. What I can gather from this is that they are two halves of a whole. Obviously I could go with some kind of sexual encounter, but I’m not sure that is where I want this story to go for now, but I do need to explore more options related to how these two could “come together” and join forces somehow to fix the problem.

4. This means that they need some kind of alternating powers that can be combined to do something.

Which of course leads to the big problem, and I’m not entirely sure how I want to handle it.

How did we get here to begin with? The writer portion of me wants to not go down the thought process right now because I feel I need to keep it secret. I’m also a bit of a discovery writer in that I don’t always know where I’m going. I’m trying to do better, but since this entire project is being up online for everyone to see, I think the best course of action is for me to just bite the bullet and spill the beans.

Here is my thought. Peter is actually not half-angel. He’s half-demon.

Celeste is the true half-angel. Angels and Demons are basically two halves of the same coin. They are pretty much the same beings, but one is light, the other dark.

How about, when God cast out 1/3 of the hosts to become demons, he prevented them from ever having a corporeal form. Demons themselves could never become corporeal, but their children could. This is why Peter is like this. How about a demon finally managed to get a body, thus locking out the angels from being on this earth until his body is destroyed.

This would give Peter and Celeste a goal. Kill the big-bad demon guy that is now inhabiting the world. I want the fact that peter and Celeste are here on this earth to be something of a mystery, and anomaly.

Perhaps, nephilim don’t really gain any divine powers until they mature. They hit puberty. This is when their modest powers manifest. Angels notice this and destroy any demon-spawned nephilim when they kids hit puberty, in fact maybe they destroy both of them. Peter and Celeste were under the radar when this happened. It’s still exceedingly rare that this would happen, but when it does happen, divine decree requires that they have to be destroyed. It sucks, but it’s the law.

But, with no angels on the earth anymore, Peter and Celeste haven’t been found out and thus were kind of grandfathered in. This makes them literally one of a kind on the earth and the only two people alive that can possibly stop this.

So Bael, we’ll call him, the big-bad guy that finally managed to find himself a body host, and we can figure out exactly how he came into the world, has been running the mob for the last few years now that he’s here. He has a ton of powers, granted to him as a full=fledged demon. He’s also working on preparing hosts for more.

Ooh, he actually managed to grab a body and cast some kind of spell to banish the angels. We’ll have to figure this one out later, but I’m thinking they are banished to some kind of third dimension. Not heaven, not hell, not earth. Some other dimension, purgatory we can call it? The waiting room for the dead. They don’t belong there and shouldn’t be there. Maybe this is also causing a bit of a back-log in the dead being processed or something, but he’s thrown the balance off real bad this time and he’s working on paving the road for more demons to make it onto the world. Maybe he already has some of this guys already through to this side.

So all I need to figure out now is:

1. How exactly did Bael manage to accomplish this feat.

2. How will Peter/Celeste be able to use that knowledge to get out of it.

Stay tuned next time while we work on that solution!

***End of brainstorming dump***

So this was a little longer of a brainstorming exercise. I still think I came up with some really cool ideas.

Next week I will concatenate everything that we’ve assembled into one post so all the pertinent information is in one place, then we start start work on actually writing something. I will bring that up more next week though.

Till then, let me know what you think about where we are going with the plot and how you like the world and the characters!

Ideaifying Pt 4: Brainstormening 2

Since this blog series is starting to take on a life of it’s own, and I don’t rightly know how many parts we are going to have, I’m going to stick with Brainstormening as the subtitle for now since that’s what we’re doing.

Like last week, I’m going to spend some time with a brainstorming exercise. Let’s launch right into it then analyze what I come up with.

***Beginning of brainstorming dump***

So let’s talk about the girl:

Celeste. I like this name. It’s pure, it’s beautiful. I don’t rightly know if it’s actually a biblical name or not, but I like it none the less. So let’s stick with this shall we?

Who is she? Well in order to be able to see the angels, she would have to be part angel, just like Peter. I almost want to toy with the idea of her being the product of a demon and a human, or a demon and angel, but let’s stick with angels for now. No need to complicate an already complicated storyline.

Differences between her and Peter. Let’s start with what is different because that is where we will see the conflict.

Instead of hearing Angels screaming all the time, maybe she sees their faces but they are always calm, maybe not smiling around her, but calm, collected. No emotions and they stare off blankly. They’re always in her peripheral vision, much like Peter, but never in front of her face. They never make noise, that is, until Peter shows up.

She’s a little younger than him, sixteen perhaps? She’s always viewed them as her guardian angels. So here’s the tricky question: did she notice them disappear? Ooh. That could make or break the story. I could go a few different ways here:

* She’s young enough to not remember them disappearing, so that would make her like eight or nine.

* She never saw them before they suddenly showed up in her vision one day, I could make her older at this point, possibly within range of her being a love interest with Peter.

* She did see them doing good before, then suddenly they were gone. This also keeps her within love-interest territory for Peter, but also shows us that since they went from helping people to following her around, whatever happened to the angels was different.

* She could have just accepted that this was life and moved on, or maybe she kept it a secret. She felt God or something just favored her with a secret that she couldn’t give out. This might work better if she’s a little girl instead of a woman though.

* Because of the angels surrounding her, maybe she has a lot of luck. Maybe Peter does too. Only it’s not luck per-se, it could be the simple fact that they are both half-angel and have slightly better things happen to them than regular humans.

Possible “good benefits” of being half-angel:

*Slight precognition. i.e. you can sense that someone is going to punch you so you turn around before it happens.

* Slightly faster reflexes

* Not as tired after a lot of exercise.

* A general “feeling” of what to do and when. This can be an extension of  the precognition. They in general know where they should be and a general timeframe, but sometimes, when it’s going to help them avoid something catastrophic, they can get much more specific info in a more timely manner, but it’s not always exact.

“TURN AROUND AND PUNCH” the feeling might say.

“Don’t go down this alley.”

“Be in the park before the sun sets.”

“Be out of the park before the sun sets.”

Stuff like that.

So what does she do right now? Maybe she’s a researcher, or a student, just trying to keep her head down and out of trouble. I have to imagine that the world hasn’t come to a complete grinding halt, it’s just that the world is a lot more harsh nowadays. You have to work that much harder to stay ahead. Crime rates have basically doubled across the board, so have death rates, maybe tripled or quadrupled even.

Gangs run a lot of the places now.

***End of brainstorming dump***

Well well. That was fun. Now let us dissect what it was I just wrote and pick out the things that I like:

  • I love the name Celeste.
  • I like her silent angels bit.
  • I also like the idea that Celeste and Peter’s fates are inescapably intertwined. I think having them stay around the same age range is good. If Peter is 20, maybe make her a little younger, 17 or so, in order to hold on to a little bit of that childhood innocence. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something in my mind tells me that it could be key to whatever big mystery we are dealing with here.
  • I also like the luck/precognition portion. That might be a fun thing to explore, but it’s out of the scope for today’s post.

Note that as I brainstorm, I’m starting to lean more to a cooperative story, rather than Peter simply saving the girl. Of course this could drastically change the storyline, but we’re still in the brainstorming mode here, we have plenty of time to adjust/add/cut. You will probably notice wide swings in my feelings from one week to the next. I write these weekly, and that separation gives my subconscious a chance to mull on things so when I sit down next week I might have a different perspective. I prefer this method of world-building that sitting down and knocking it all out in a weekend. Give things time to percolate.

This is evident when I started the world. We started with screaming angels, then immediately jumped to a character and I’m working out the world from there. You could just as easily start with a specific conflict, or a scene in your head, a character trait, a painting, or an object. This is the beauty of brainstorming. Nothing is off the table, and tossing around ideas without a care to how good they are is my favorite part of this journey!

So how do you like Celeste? Do you like her differences from Peter, what about their similarities? What is her backstory, and how old do you see her being? Stay tuned next week as we continue down this crazy path and see where we end up.

Ideaifying Pt 4: The Brainstormening 1

Hello everyone! Tom here for the fourth installment in this very-experimental blog series. Last week we opened our minds, took the basic concepts, and started creating a world where this story can be told.

This week, we are going do some brainstorming, fleshing out more of the world, Peter, and the situation he’s in. To me, this is the real fun part of taking an idea into a story.

My method of brainstorming involves typing. Lots and lots of typing. I do this for a couple reasons:

  • I type fast, which allows me to play to one of my strengths.
  • Typing fast means I can get a lot of ideas down quick, allowing my mind to move from point to point and document the journey along the way. It’s sometimes quite fascinating the iterations my mind goes through when I do this.
  • It’s fun coming up with new ideas or twists on old ideas. Majority of what I brainstorm gets thrown in the garbage, What remains is what I’m after.

Brainstorming Rules:

  • Start writing—keep writing.
  • Write down everything (your mind thinks, no matter how silly or off-topic).
  • No editing. Other than the occasional misspelled word if I need to give my brain a couple seconds to dwell on a topic.
  • Stop when you’re done. This could be 5-10 minutes, I’ve had it go on for an hour as well. I just let it happen naturally. When my brain is done, I stop.

With all that said, let’s get started!

***Beginning of brainstorming dump***

I mentioned last week that the angels leaving the world was too big a concept to really tackle in this short story form, so we will use that for background to the world. The conflict that stemmed from it though, is interesting. Here we are, a few years after the angels left us, and the world has fallen into chaos.

Peter was 15 when the angels left, it’s five years later. Why fifteen? Because I want to have him do something, and in this gritty world where we have no protection from the divine, and people have all lost their moral compass, I feel like any story we tell will best be handled by someone in the prime of their youth. So Peter is 20. Yeah, I like 20. He’s also internalized the fact that he was the only one who could see them, and the only one that saw them disappear, so it’s taken it upon himself to fill the void left behind.

Peter is the Black Angel. Hiding in the shadows, the antithesis to all that was in the world.

He still hears the angels from time to time. Or sees their faces ebb and flow, constantly fading into sight, then fading out. The angels are screaming. Why? Well that might be best answered in a larger story, but for now, Peter still sees them, just outside of his vision, every one of them in locked in state of soundless terror. It’s a wonder Peter is still sane. At first he used to be freaked out by it, but he’s learned to largely ignore them.

That is until they stop screaming. That’s when he really notices. That’s when he springs into action.

I like that we are a few years later. I like the gritty Peter, and I love the imagery of him taking over the role of the Black Angel. I think it makes sense to have him older too, since he would need to be able to have the physical prowess to handle a wider variety of situations.

I also like the idea of him still seeing them and the imagery of them locked in soundless screams. That is very evocative, but not hearing. I think he’s got enough on his plate. It’s enough to have the image of terrified, screaming angels just outside of your field of vision. We don’t want him to be totally crazy. And maybe he doesn’t see them all the time, they fade in and out.

So we have a bit of a batman theme going on here. Kid, dressed all in black, hiding in the shadows, tormented by his past. Bit derivative but I’m okay with that for now. So what is our hook?

Well I love the bit at the end, when there is suddenly an angel that isn’t screaming. Something has changed. And one thing that popped into my head just now is: what would happen if he found someone else that could see the angels? That’s also an interesting idea.

Let’s say he meets a girl (it’s always a girl), maybe she’s getting mugged on a street where no one cares, Peter goes up to stab the guy when he suddenly realizes that the angels are no longer screaming. I think at this point I should have them actually screaming…why? Well…how about they scream because (at least as far as Peter knows) they can’t help people, and they are being tormented by all the injustices in the world that they cannot do anything about. Ooh yeah, I like that!

So Peter goes up to attack this guy from behind, to save the girl, and the voices stop screaming. It throws Peter off his game. The guy turns around, clocks him one and starts attacking him. Peter’s mind is racing, he’s torn between wondering why the voices suddenly stopped and saving his life.

***End of brainstorming dump***

Whew, that was a lot to get down on paper. It’s a bit jumbled, and I only edited misspelled words and some punctuation in that brainstorming dump section so it looked a little better to share.

So what do I like? Let’s list the things:

  • Angels leaving as part of the backstory
  • World in Chaos
  • Peter realizing he’s the only one that ever heard this (I especially like this because we can flip his world upside down when he realizes something he thought to be true his entire life was wrong)
  • Peter being the Black Angel – so much backstory and reasons
  • Constantly hearing the angels screaming all around him. This is a powerful image
  • I love them stopping screaming when the girl shows up. That’s even more powerful.
  • I love the idea of the girl too. His antithesis. Yin Yang etc…there could be something there…
  • Gritty story is good. I’ve not actually written much with grit, so this will be a fun exercise.

Things we still need to figure out:

We don’t have a hook. Something has to change, his world has to change completely for this short story to really have a good beginning. Remember my goal is to write a story out of this, so as much fun as world-building is, I want to constantly remind myself that the goal is a story, not hundreds of pages documenting a fantasy world.

We need to know more about the world, the magic system and how the angels and humans play into it.

What is special about this girl? This might make for a good initial hook at the start of the story, something to draw in the reader, but we have to figure out first what is so special about this girl. Why would the angels stop screaming when Peter is around her?

Well, I will leave that until next week. If anyone has suggestions on what she should be, why she’s special and why the angels don’t scream around her, leave them in the comments.

Ideaifying Pt 3: The Expandening

Last week we explored a few ideas around a word that we picked in Pt 1. That word is Evanesce. This week I’m going to take an idea and expand upon it, starting to coalesce (another fantastic word, btw) into a story idea.

Last week, two things stuck in my mind. Fade away, and Angels. I’d like to use these two words to come up with a story idea.

What is is about angels that fade away? My first thought is they just got killed. This has a double bonus of giving us some conflict right off the bat. Why did they get killed? What killed them? Can angels really be killed or just sent back to the heavens? So many questions flooding my mind from this and I do like where it’s going, but let’s stop and go back to the other phrase: Fade away.

Angels fading away doesn’t seem as violent, at least compared to what we were just thinking about, instead it has more of a “It’s a Wonderful Life” quality to it. Angels can fade away for a couple reasons, one being they are killed, or forced. Another is that they are no longer needed here and are fading away to head back to their home.

My next thought is…Okay, how do we know that angels fade away? Are they visible by all humans, or only some? If the latter, then why? Also, what are angels doing here on earth? Are they good or bad angels? I say let’s stick with good angels. And maybe they do normal angel things, like help people out, nudge people out of dangerous situations, and overall protect the population.

So what if we have a main character that can see angels? Let’s say that he is the only one that can see them. Why? Maybe he’s half angel, product of an angel and a human copulating. I don’t write romance, so I will leave that up to other writers on this blog to flesh that story out. I’m the Dreary Dwarf for a reason, so let’s take a sadder storyline.

I feel like my protagonist should have a bit of a biblical name in keeping with the angels theme, let’s call him Peter. Peter is sixteen years old and has been able to see angels wandering around the Earth his whole life. One day he wakes up and they are gone…no…no…they Evanesce. Peter is waiting on the subway one dreary morning when all the angels around him suddenly evanesce into mist. They all disappear.

This is when Peter realizes something has gone terribly wrong. Maybe someone gets hit by the subway train since an angel wasn’t there anymore to save him. (I am Dreary Dwarf btw, so yes. I can/will go there.)

So what do we have so far?

We have a protagonist, Peter. He’s 16 and he can see angels.

One morning while waiting for the subway, all the angels world-wide suddenly fade away.

Peter is the only one that notices this happening. Suddenly, bad things are happening all around the world and no one knows why. Death and accident rates skyrockets, as does crime, plunging the world into a gritty, grim-dark world.

Wait, pause! These ideas, while cool, could fill a book. We could explore Peter going on an epic journey to make his way to the land of angels to find out where they all went, and somehow bring them back. We could have this as simply backstory to a world plunged into death and depravity—a world without angels to protect us anymore. We would find out where they went, and, more importantly, why. Was it God that pulled them back, if so, why? More importantly, can Peter do anything about it? Perhaps the devil came in, or some other cosmic entity or event. Like I said, these ideas could fill a book, or more, depending on how grand you want your story.

I’m not really interested, at least with this exercise, to write a book. I was shooting for more of a short story (and content for the blog). Next week we will take these expanded ideas and solidify them into a core conflict that needs to be addressed in the confines of a short story. Spoiler: I’m leaning toward angels disappearing being part of the backstory to Peter’s life and this opens up a whole host of things that could be smaller conflicts in Peter’s life.

Got Plot? #AmWriting #AmPlotting

Business man writing plan ABC
When I first decided to try to make a living doing this thing I love called writing, my first step was to learn as much as I could about anything writing or publishing.

One of the biggest helps  when I was starting out were the online workshop/classes hosted by RWA, among others. Authors teaching authors. This community is kind, helpful and always willing to share knowledge 😀

After a ton of blog reading, I settled on my first topic to study and improve.

Plotting.

I still enjoy the book, 20 Master Plots by Ronald Tobias (I have the 2003 edition, there’s a new 2012 edition now). Even Tobias states, though, that no one knows how many types of master plots there are (his guess is not 20, he only gives you an overview of different plots such as Revenge, The Quest, Adventure, Love, ect.)

Okay, I thought. *I think* I can work with that, LOL.

 

Next step, plot elements.

Free Rollercoaster Track Royalty Free Stock Photography - 6322557And this is where it got really interesting.

 

3 Act Structure

5 Act Structure

 I even heard of doing an 8 Act once.

 Spider web plotting

Storyboarding

Snowflake plotting, and on and on.

 

Yup. I read books and/or took classes on them all.

Guess how many worked perfectly for me?

ZERO

 

But it was definitely worth it. Because I took away so much information from each and every step, that I was able to form a mutt-mix bastardization method of elements from them all into my own questionable path to plotting.

Since I’m at the beginning of creating a new world and series for the first time in a couple years, I decided to revisit some of them.

It’s always interesting what new information I find, now that I have more writing under my belt.

 

So, my Q4U: How do you plot? Or, how do you pants it (no pre-story/outline writing)?

 And, how did you learn or decide on your method?

How to Start a Book

It’s really easy for me, when I’m writing, to jump right into a story and keep the tension high and the pace fast, immediately grabbing hold of my readers. But then the first chapter or two ends, and some of the problems with diving instantly into a heart-pounding scene with no real exposition becomes annoyingly obvious. People don’t understand the world, or how it works. They start to have questions that I’m torn about. Part of me wants to say, you’ll find out, and the other part of me wonders if they should already know the answers. So taking some time, I decide to pick and choose, weaving some of this important information throughout my story. But then, I get a lot of this and this, slows down the tension.

Sigh. What am I to do?

Most of the time, I end up going back and adding a chapter in the beginning. This chapter still has great tension and character development, but it also explains some of the vital information about my world, so the rest of the story can move faster. But it isn’t as heart-pounding as my first draft, at least not right off the bat.

I still haven’t completely decided about the best way to start a book. Is it better to get right into things and then slightly slow the pace later on by adding the vital information? Or is it better to start a little slower, get that information on the page, and then dive into the really good stuff?

But for the two novels I’m working on right now, I’ve changed them to slow the pace in the beginning, so I can quicken the pace throughout the rest of the novel. This is not necessarily what I’ll do with ever book I write, but right now, it seems like the best decision.

Urban Fantasy vs. Fantasy or Girls vs. Boys Phoenix Comicon panels part duex #writingtips #rogues

Welcome to part deux of my ventures into Phoenix Comicon writing panels. I saved the best for last. The panel was titled “Writing Rogues” and man, the panelists fit that description to a ‘T’.  Recognize these names: Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles), Patrick Rothfuss (Kingkiller Chronicles), Pierce Brown aka Pretty Boy (Red Rising Trilogy), Sam Sykes (The Aeons’ Gate series), and Scott Lynch (Gentleman Bastards series). If you read fantasy, you know at least one of these. And yes, it did not escape my notice there were no females present (but more of that later).

This workshop focused on the role of the rogue in fantasy series.  You know the ones: Han Solo from Star Wars, Lynch’s Locke, Harry of Jim Butcher fame, Atticus from Kevin’s series, these male characters know how to work that line between bad boy attitude and hero.

They started off with what makes a rogue–flaws, moral grayness (morally transgressive), never sure if they’ll side with you or leave you hanging in the wind, ambivalent, never committed to any cause, unless it’s themselves. They’re the characters you aren’t sure will show up, and when they do, you still aren’t sure what they’re going to do. They break the boundaries of their worlds, have to fight themselves before they fight their antagonist.  Want more examples? Think Snake Eyes from GI Joe, Stryder from LoTR, Cpt. Kirk of USS Enterprise–each one of these is what is described as a “chaotic neutral”.

The panel was an hour long and these guys are high caliber smart asses, witty without trying, and awesome to listen to. Then one of the audience members got up and asked a question.

“Why aren’t there any female rogues in fantasy?”

Silence descends for a moment, then Patrick dares to address the 15 minute rambling that I managed to get down to 8 words.  Because part of that rambling question were comments, such as “why does a female rogue have to be attractive, but a male one doesn’t?”, and “why are female rogues considered $itches”, and “how come its an all male panel?”, and so forth.

It was a big room with lots of people. My heart went out to the panelists. This is a minefield question. The questioner was on the younger side (no offense meant, but it may give insight into the whys behind the questions).

I won’t go into the debate that broke out, but I will boil some of it down:

1. In Fantasy, the world settings tend to model on medieval, which then extends to your world’s attitudes on genders. Patrick posed an interesting question, “If a fantasy author wrote a book where the lead was a mother, who decided to leave her hubby and kiddos, to undertake a heroine’s journey, would the readers be sympathetic?”  My answer as a reader–not me. First, I’m a mom and a wife, and somehow leaving behind the important peeps in my life to undertake some journey to find a magical object, would require serious incentive. Patrick pushed it further. “So say this mom does leave it all behind to do this journey, and say the sexual mores of this world were less puritan than ours, so she can now hook up with males through out her journey without worry of negatively impacting her family behind, would it still work for you?”  Again, me as a reader–um, yuck.

My take away from this one:  Fantasy is based on historical mores/values/cultures, and women, unfortunately did not play dominant roles in those, which is then reflected in high fantasy.

2. Many, many, MANY (did I say many?) times, each of the authors on the panel brought up woman writers who have kick-ass female rogues: Carrie Vaughan, Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Laurell Hamilton, Elizabeth Hand, etc.

After much back and forth, guess what I wanted to yell at the minor demon of debate castigating the panel: Yo, honey, you want rogue females? Then PICK UP A DAMN URBAN FANTASY BOOK!  Rogue female characters work in UF because it’s fantasy set in contemporary times, where moral trangsgressiveness is gender blind. You want to know what happen to rogue female leads, yeah they’re kicking ass a few hundred of years after the bad boys of fantasy.

Besides, you tell me, don’t Granuaile from Hearne’s novels, or Karen in Jim’s novels, nail the female rogues roles?

So I refrained from violence, barely, but I still had to vent a bit on this.

Tell me, as I haven’t read the newer High Fantasy lately, are there women rogues in lead roles? Ones that aren’t portrayed as hardened $itches?

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