Plotting To Be Scene – Part Three
My next area of study is plotting. I am using James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure as a companion piece. I am plotting a new project, Scepter’s Sacrifice, and hope to use some of his techniques in finalizing the overall story. His third chapter, How to Explode with Plot Ideas, includes five exercises at the end of the chapter. I will bravely post my answers.
You can see my answers to Part Two.
EXERCISE ONE – Chose two ways to get ideas. Set aside at least one hour of writing time for each of them.
I picked a title for each of Blake Snyder’s genres. You can read about them, here, if you wish.
In a separate exercise, I played WHAT-IF, starting with what-if a Native American leader wed his daughter to a European aristocrat so they could have a son and end the wars between their two Peoples. The idea developed into the general concept for Scepter’s Sacrifice, a project I have considered for over a month.
EXERCISE TWO – Pick the idea you like the best from the previous exercise, and give it a hook, line and sinker.
Hook: Native American culture collides with European culture, in a time similar to the Fourteenth Century, without gun-powder.
Line: When someone murders the Duke, Deheya fights for peace, and their son’s future, only to discover that her brother-in-law threatens her and the Heir’s lives.
This general story line, the noble Native American’s and the slightly more advanced European civilization, is not unique, but a Native American leader is willing to gamble on permanent peace by wedding his daughter to the leader of the Europeans.
The setting is far removed from everyday life, set in a fictitious place in about the Fourteenth Century without a European use of gunpowder.
The characters are not old stock. Deheya, the heroine, Native American, possessed with a strong religious belief that flows into her social awareness and honor, and uses her charm as a weapon, but suffers the sin of pride; and begins the story with a belief that duty is more important than love. Ad Gar, the villain, the younger brother of the Duke, is a decisive professional soldier, patriotic but introverted, with the sin of prejudice; and begins the story with a deep dislike of the Native American’s, including his brother’s future wife.
This story is big enough to attract readers interested in early Native American – European struggles, forbidden romantic love crossing cultures, and two people trapped by the act of thinking a sin before actually committing it. The added element to this story is that, in order for Deheya to succeed in securing her son’s future, she will need to kill Ad Gar. But their love will rekindle, and they will both be forced to look at their entire life’s work, and decide what they must do. In the end, he will have no will to imprison her.
EXERCISE THREE – Now apply Bell’s Pyramid to your idea.
Passion: I am passionate about writing this story; I feel I know Deheya so well, and the struggle she must go through to grow, to understand the sacrifice duty requires, even to give up love; and I am coming to understand Ad Gar, and the secret love he nurtures for her and the envy he nurtures for all that his older brother has, and the terrible consequences of a mistake, that brings him to the brink of winning everything he thought he ever wanted, only to lose it.
Potential: I do not know how much potential this story has. I have not done any marketing research to see how much appeal this kind of book might have. I need to do that. At this time, though, I am not overly interested in reaching anyone, so much as using it to develop my craft.
Precision: I am a little concerned about the genre of this story. I feel it is literary historical, or it might be fantasy. But, because the story takes place in no particular place, in no particular time, it is not exactly historical. And, because there are no dragons or wizards or charms, this really isn’t a fantasy. I will read more of Orson Scott Card’s book, to see what extra flavor could be put into this story.
EXERCISE FOUR – After experimenting with this as a short story, I want to write this as a novel. And I intend to use the process to further the ideas. Having written nary a word to this point, I am still quite flexible in my take on the story.
EXERCISE FIVE – I will continue to develop ideas, not only for this story, but for other projects as well. The denizens of Scrib have been very helpful when I have approached them about specific problems. And Scapple as been a wonderful tool for doodling and coming up with new ideas.
So, what does this all mean?
I have discussed aspects of this project on Scribophile for a while. At a top-level, people I respect feel this project is story worthy. I am, actually, quite humbled that they think this could be worth it.
I have been given a lot of help on defining the core passions for my characters, Deheya and Ad Gar. I have used other tools to give them what I hope to be interesting and compelling characteristics. I have received a lot of help on coming up with various aspects of the story arc. And, for once, I am entering the story late, and leaving it early.
I want to see if Bell’s book can help me get it closer to right than to wrong. Only time will tell.
One of the most important tools for me, is that I have the Scribophile community to help answer craft, plot, and character questions. Most importantly, they are brutally honest in their assessments. I wish WordPress has something as active.