I sent chapter 30 of my current project to my alpha readers for their review and feedback. These volunteers endure hardship reading my drafts, but their observations regarding the progress of the story and recommendations for improving my writing skills are invaluable to me. The success of this endeavor will be in no small part a result of their ongoing support.
A great deal of background information exists for The Dragon Universe, some as much as 45 years old, and some newly created as I progress through my current project. An encyclopedia sounds like a good use for this information. Having such a repository is useful during the writing process, but could also be something fans might someday enjoy.
At the beginning of the writing process, I defined my characters by creating character sheets that described all aspects of the characters. I came to know my characters well; however, it is not possible to know everything about them. As the story is revealed, many new facts about each character are exposed — I learn more about the characters with each scene I write.
It is exhilarating when new knowledge about my characters is learned. While the entire story arc was created early in the writing process, the details of how the arc progresses is dynamic and new information about the characters can lead the story to unexpected places. While still on the path defined by the original outline, the story’s details have taken amazing turns.
I now have new information that explains many things that have been happening between the various characters. This information created a completely new understanding of who these people are, how they see the world, and how they live.
This is fun.
My method of writing involves the following (list is not necessarily in order, or complete, and is subject to change without notice).
- Formulate a theme, motif, and premise, and the ending that supports these
- Identify core conflict
- Set up spreadsheet to track everything
- Create mind-maps to explore ideas
- Keep a writer’s notes file of ideas
- Carry voice recorder at all times for saving sudden ideas that pop into mind
- Design the story arc and overall plot
- Define the major plot points that transition between the stages of the three-act structure
- Devise a beginning and its inciting incident that leads to the first major plot point
- Develop various additional plot points between the major plot points
- Formulate subplots within the story
- Make a step-sheet to plan the incidents of the story
- Describe the characters, including physical traits, habits, back-stories, etc
- Ascertain each character’s ruling passion and motivations at each point during the story
- Create an arc of change for each significant character
- Delineate goals and obstacles and the resulting conflicts
- Sketch each conflicts’ rising and resolution structure and the level of intensity to be reached
- Look for ways to foreshadow events
- Explore if any symbols are appropriate
- Apply the stages of the hero’s journey monomyth
- Utilize the hero’s journey character archetypes
- Create an outline for the story
- Write scenes and let the story reveal itself
- As the story is revealed, plans are invariably invalidated and the planning process must be repeated
- Reiterate the entire process continually, adding details, and looking for places to make enhancements and corrections
- Tell the story, retell the story, write, and rewrite, cycle through the telling process until the story is fully revealed and told correctly
- Edit and refine, and then edit and refine some more
- Hope and pray I can get the finished book published
Wishes can drive a story. Within the first few paragraphs of the narrative, the Human hero of The Dragon Universe: The Fellowship wishes to get away from the depravity that is Human society. Something grants him his wish, but what he receives in its place may be worse.
I have been exploring concepts regarding how wishes, spoken or unspoken, often drive stories. I find wishes all through the story I am telling. The wishes shift and change over the course of the story, but wishes are always at the root of the characters’ motivations.
Of course, wishes alone lead nowhere. One must have the will to do what it takes to make real one’s wishes.
This applies not only to stories, but to real-life as well.
I dreamed I had the opportunity to visit a Star Trek holodeck. It was exciting. Besides me, many other people were also given the opportunity to visit the holodeck. As we walked around and talked, the other guest kept asking for my business card that I hand out to promote my writing project. Some of the people requesting my card were power brokers in the publishing industry. I was pleased with the attention and had high hopes for further contacts. Then the holodeck shut down. The room became empty. Scattered around the room were my business cards, fluttering to the floor.