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

Image result for writingby Don Templeton

So you want to tell a tale. What do you do? Just sit down and start writing it from the beginning? Do you even know where to begin?

Well, the first step is a “simple” requirement…or so it would seem.

Your task, O Jedi Scribe, is to write one stinking sentence.

That’s it. One sentence. Now to create that sentence, you’re going to have to boil the entire narrative essence of your Epic Tale down to one sentence which focuses on the line of action and the character (or characters). When you achieve the objective, you will know exactly what it is you are writing and why. They say the hardest thing about writing is knowing what to write. Your finished sentence will brilliantly distill what it is you are writing.

Write a paragraph or pages of notes attacking your idea from every angle. Then take that raw material and slash it down to one perfectly worded sentence. Make mind maps if that helps you “see” your material.

But when you are done, you will have a sentence that tells your story. If you’ve ever read TV Guide descriptions of what a show is about, this is exactly what you are attempting to do. In Hollywood, this is called the logline. In fact, this is exactly what you are doing here – writing a logline that tells the story of your novel.

Now here’s a set of guidelines that are even more specific to the task.

  1. Your sentence must focus on a protagonist, the goal, and the antagonist or antagonistic force opposing the protagonist.
  2. Don’t use character names in your sentence; use character types: a cop, a hooker, a rocket scientist. Add a good adjective to add some depth to the character: a burned-out hooker.
  3. Clearly present the protagonist(s) goal.
  4. Describe the antagonist or antagonist force which opposes the hero.
  5. Make it clear that the protagonist(s) are pro-active to the action, not reactive.
  6. Detail the stakes or ticking time bomb that the characters are working to achieve or beat.
  7. Don’t just tell your story with your logline, sell it as well. When you write the perfect logline of your novel, you’ll have the best thing to tell people when they find out you’re a writer. Everyone always asks: “What’s your story about?” That’s when you rattle off your logline.

So now we just need a good example of all of the above in action. Here’s my logline for Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 “Pretty Hate Machine” now available at http://www.bluefalconpress.com:

A maverick detective, a Gonzo journalist, and a has-been porn star fight to expose the federal government’s involvement in the worst schoolyard shooting in history while a super-secret strike unit infiltrates the center of the cyclone, the factory where little girls are turned into suicide juggernauts and unleashed.

Are we on the same sheet of music now? Is it as clear as the water in a Caribbean lagoon? This is Step One in writing a great genre novel. In the next lesson, I’m going to show you how to diagram all the important turning points in your story and structure your idea inside the 3-Act Paradigm or what needs to be in the Beginning, what to do with the Middle (a lot of writers get bogged down here and I will show you how to stay out of the mud) and how to wrap it all up with a satisfying End.

Stay tuned.

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Shackled Scribes

The Shackled Scribes4 StarsShackled Scribes is a fantasy piece that takes place in a world powered by runes and those that carve them for the worm rulers in power. The story opens with Cyesko, an interesting character. He strives to be a respected rune scribe, partly due to his addiction to Ichor, a golden liquid that he receives as payment for his runes. He is a bird-like creature who has spent most of his life being a weak rune scribe, but that all changes when he runs into Tialina, a female bird creature who is naturally gifted in rune scribing. When he takes part of a rune she created, it sends him on a new path of stronger rune creation. However, those new runes bring new problems.

Soon, he begins to wonder who this woman was and how she became so powerful, as well as some truths that change how he sees the world around him. Meanwhile, Tialina has discovered the consequences of using rune power so often, and begins to look for a solution that might change the world.

The strength of this story lies in its world. It is unique in almost every respect, and the characters respond and react as one would expect under those circumstances. It is also a world that is well-defined. There were not many times when this reader ever felt lost or confused by the introduction of a new mechanic or function in the world. The details are revealed in such a fashion that makes the reader desire more, and gives enough of those details in a timely pace that also keeps the reader satisfied.

The plot is entertaining and straightforward. There is not a lot hiding in the details of the story, and some readers might find the actual conflicts to be a bit generic, despite the rich and unique setting. Regardless, the story moves quickly and the reader will be anxious to find out how these characters progress through the troubles where they find themselves.

Overall, the story is well worth the read. Some of the ideas are very far-fetched, but that creativity makes the reading interesting. If you can deal with ideas that aren’t much like any of the traditional magic we find in contemporary fantasy, then this will be a book for you. It is a unique setting with interesting characters. I hope that there will be more adventures in this realm.

Pages: 195 | ASIN: B01KDG6OKA

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