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How To Plot A Novel Like A Well-Timed Mechanical Ambush (Part Two)

by Don Templeton

Welcome to Step Two in the Blue Falcon Press plot planning process.

What I’m about to reveal here is something professional screenwriter’s already know backwards and forwards. This diagram was originally brought to the world by the late, great Syd Field. Now here is something novelists need to internalize: this schematic works Jim Dandy as a template for your novel as well as a screenplay. I’ve written EVERY novel of mine using the Paradigm above to map out the major movements and turning points in my plots. EVERY. ONE. This diagram keeps you on target, keeps you focused, and keeps you from writing crap that has no business being in your story.

The first thing to do in figuring out your paradigm is write a sentence which describes how the story is going to END. Then do the same thing for the BEGINNING. In my novels, the beginning is always the INCITING INCIDENT. It is the event that starts all the other story dominoes falling. In Pretty Hate Machine, this is the Sadie Hawkins attack on her school. Next, decide what PP1, PP2, and MP are. Let me explain what a Plot Point is. A plot point is defined as any incident, episode or event that “hooks” into the action and spins it around into another direction. Syd Field’s SCREENWRITER’S WORKBOOK. Now notice where your plot points fall: at the end of Act One and at the end of Act Two.

The Mid Point is some kind of incident, episode, or event that occurs in the middle of ACT 2 and breaks ACT 2 into two halves of dramatic action. Act 2 becomes two halves joined together by the Mid-Point. The first half of Act Two now has a target you know – the Mid-Point.. The second half of Act 2 has another target to write towards, everything that happens after the Mid-Point and concludes with Plot Point 2.

Let’s illustrate how this works by examining the Peter Jackson remake of King Kong I’m not using Pretty Hate Machine to illustrate this because it will ruin the wonderful surprise for readers of the book. I’m not going to spoil that surprise for you. In King Kong, Act 1 ends with Plot Point 1 which in this case is when the expedition reaches Skull Island. The Mid-Point of the story is when King Kong shows up for the first time, taking the girl into the jungle with him. So, the first half of Act 2 shows all the incidents that take place exploring the Island. The second half of Act 2 details the girl’s relationship with Kong and her shipmates attempts to find her and rescue her. Plot Point 2 is when Kong is captured and the ship leaves for New York. See how that works? It makes Act 2 absolutely manageable now. No reason to fear Act 2 anymore.

Let’s discuss briefly the purpose each act serves. Act 1 is known as the Set-Up. It shows your character’s in their normal world before the real meat of the tale kicks in. Plot Point 1 is really where the steam of the story picks up and spins us into The Confrontation which occupies the entire length of Act 2. Act 2 is where you put your heroes in a tree and throw rocks at them. Act 2 ends with Plot Point 2 which spins the story around into another direction, which is the straight down nose dive into the Resolution or Act 3. This is where your heroes regain the initiative and turn the tables on the opposition, smacking them down smartly. Or if you’re into tragedies and such, this is where the heroes are defeated by the opposition. I don’t like those kind of endings so I don’t use them. I believe the good guys will always best the bad guys. That’s how I roll.

Next, impose the length restrictions of the screenplay on your novel. In a screenplay, Act 1 is one-forth the length of your script. For a 90 minute show, that’s roughly 22 and a half pages. Act 2 is half the length of the script or 45 pages. Act 3 is the same length as Act 1. In a novel, you do this by dividing your word count by 4. GREEN MAJIK novels are 100,000 words in length. So Act 1 and 3 are roughly 25,000 words in length; Act 2 is 50,000 words, which is divided into two chunks of 25K by the Mid-Point. Simple Simon.

Here’s your homework assignment. 1st, get Syd Field’s book The Screenwriter’s Workbook. It’ll be the best $16 you’ll ever spend. Next, read Pretty Hate Machine and tell me what Plot Point 1 and 2 are and what the Mid-Point is. Email your answers to don@bluefalconpress.com. Once you know what you are looking at, these events are easy to spot.

Next, we will talk about planning the most important part of your novel: your characters. See you there.

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Resurrecting This Conspiracy

Don Templeton Author Interview

Don Templeton Author Interview

Pretty Hate Machine is a high paced action novel that begins with a suicide mission of a nine year old girl. What was the inspiration for the thrilling beginning of this novel and how did that help create the ending?

Pretty Hate Machine is a reboot of my first published novel in a series called The Executioner, published by Gold Eagle Books. It was #262 in the series and was called Trigger Point. You can see it on Amazon or go to my blog at bluefalconpress.com and read the post I wrote about this very subject. Gold Eagle didn’t allow me to fully explore the X-Files nature of this story line so now 17 plus years later, I’m resurrecting this conspiracy to tell it the way it should have been told from the beginning. Interesting trivia: I turned in that first Executioner manuscript to Gold Eagle around the 1st of the year in 1999. On April 20th, Columbine took place. My editor called me dumbfounded: “What is going on down there? THIS IS JUST LIKE YOUR BOOK.”

As to the ending, it seemed only fair to dish out everything the bad guys were serving up in the beginning by using their little mind controlled killers against them.

There are so many different vibrant and colorful characters in this story from FBI agents to alligator farmers to prostitutes. What was the funnest character to write for?

Well, as to the funnest character to write — Mallory Hammond, hands down. She started off with this tag line description in my planning notes: “She’s Fox Mulder in Scully’s body.” Well, as you’ve seen — she’s MUCH MUCH more now than just Fox Mulder in Scully’s body. And she’s not chasing UFOs. She’s chasing Cthulhu while undertaking the path of the Adept in the Western Esoteric Tradition, following in the footsteps of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley. She might become the lead in a series of her own.

I found myself thinking of this novel as a Guy Ritchie movie or maybe Quentin Tarantino. Who were some creative people that inspired this novel and you as a writer?

Hunter S. Thompson. He is Artemis T. Gordon. I consider Thompson to be the greatest American writer of the 20th Century. It’s time to immortalize him as a hero in a slam-bang pulp action epic with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book? Well, that would be #2 in the series. It’s called Splatterpunk. The first chapter of this novel is included as a teaser at the end of Pretty Hate Machine. It will be available in the Summer of 17. Buckle up, Bones. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. And, again, this one is a reboot of the second (I wrote 4 total) Executioner novel I wrote that was published as Executioner #264 Iron Fist.

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Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 "Pretty Hate Machine": The Reader Feedback Dooms Day Edition by [Templeton, Don]

Someone is turning American school girls into suicide juggernauts.

Detective Jack “Blackjack” Carnahan investigates the brutal homicide of a postal employee and his family. A mysterious Man In Black agent from Homeland Security is focusing on Carnahan over the victim’s computer hard drive and what wasn’t on it when taken into custody.

Meanwhile, in the swamps of Louisiana, Special Agent Mallory Harmon is trussed up for ritual sacrifice by an inbred clan of alligator farmers. A startling discovery has been made: the frightening swamp dwellers have been trafficking in an exotic species — a species that has never been observed alive in the wild before.

Local hypnotherapist Buffy Rayburn has been drafted into the service of a “special task force” dispatched to investigate the the worst schoolyard shooting in U.S. history, the May Day Massacre. Buffy is the leading expert in the hotly debated existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse.

While Jack Carnahan races against the clock to discover the connections between a pint-sized suicide juggernaut, the brutal killings of a UFO researcher and his family, and the U.S. Government, a gang of assassins-for-hire, Denver Police motorcycle traffic cops by day, are closing in, determined to add Blackjack Carnahan to the list of casualties being shredded in this Pretty Hate Machine.

Buy the ticket. Take the ride.

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