Eight Stories of Fantastic Adventure
Long drives back and forth across Wyoming offered an escape from things closing in, giving me time to ponder whether to quit writing, or continue. Surprised that question even occurred, I wrestled with it before deciding to try a series of novelettes. With only 12,000 words, they won’t take as long to write, which means quicker feedback, unlike 130,000 word novels which take at least a year. But, am I skilled enough to write a series arc?
In a break from everything comfortable, my MC will be a guy. I grew to adore him in my last WIP, set some twenty years in the future from the novelettes. But, while I devoted 40% of my last WIP to guys, I’m planning on him as the only POV.
So…I adopted an approach used by TV. Consider Prison Escape, where we agonized through an entire season that spanned a short few weeks in real-time, but used fifteen or twenty episodes to make it over the wall. Since, they’ve added four seasons
My approach will employ arcs within arcs, with each episode having its own arc, and eight episodes forming a larger story arc. I will tell each novelette with 12,000 words, and each of the episode’s four parts in 3,000 words. Do I have the temperament and skill to live inside those rules? I had problems with word counts in my last WIP and maybe this will help cure it.
And…after a surprising amount of give-and-take, I finalized an overall outline for the series. I also hope to apply Blake Snyder’s Story Beats to the larger series, something like this.
But, how would it work? Each episode satisfies one or more Series Beats, with Episode 1 focusing on introducing important characters as they struggle with a story-level problem…which they get to solve. In Episode 2, we debate whether to accept the larger story problem. From there, we use the final six episodes to stumble along, clueless, get full of ourselves, then crash and burn, figure out what’s wrong with the MC, fix him…and win.
And, when we go through each episode, we start with a First Image, end with the Final Image, hitting all Episode Story Beats in between. And these are separate from Series Story Beats. Confused? Me too. I can hardly wait to see how it turns out. Ha.
Unlike my prior WIP, I drew a map of my MC’s world. And it’s magic. That map underlines problems he’s facing. He comes from an independent country called Shoshanna, residing on the border of the Empire, along with two other independent countries. Their immediate Imperial neighbor, Waldraun, chaffs under the Imperial leash, unimportant in Imperial politics.
Should I decide on new seasons, that map screams at new and dangerous problems for my MC.
Next time we can discuss Episode One.