So, quick review of what we have done so far.
First, I had to lay out the four dramatic elements for each story. Those elements were Passion, Theme, Character and Premise. Each element builds off of the others and helps to lay out a direction for the story before the story has even been conceived or created.
Next, I had to lay out descriptions and backstories for my Protagonist and my Antagonist. I did this by taking my dramatic elements, which determine the direction of my story, and use that direction to lay out which two conflicting characters will be best capable to taking my story in that desired direction. This was a little difficult. First, which character flaw would best display my theme to my readers? What kind of person might have such a flaw? What kind of history might have given my character that flaw? What kind of flaw would my antagonist have? Why are they working so hard again my main character? How will their conflict display my theme? There was a lot of detail to think through here, but it is work that needs to be done right away, since determining these features of my main two characters will already give me an idea of what is going to happen later in the story.
After laying out my antagonist and protagonist, I then had to fill out my 3-Act outline, containing the nine important checkpoints of my story. In case you forgot what they were, I will post them again here:
Act 1 is made up of three checkpoints: the hook, the backstory, and the trigger.
The hook is an event that opens the story. This event uses at least one element of the main character’s history, and this will stimulate a new chapter in his or her life. This new chapter is the story you intend to tell.
The backstory is, in some ways, what used to be called exposition in the old drama books. Here all the important characters are brought into place, and enough of their histories has been explained to know who they essentially are. This section of Act 1 is active, moving us from the initial hook to the next checkpoint, the trigger.
The trigger is an event that occurs at the very last moment of Act 1 and will propel your main character into crisis at the first moment of Act 2.
Act 2 also has three checkpoints: the crisis, the struggle, and the epiphany.
The crisis begins the second act with the protagonist suddenly in a state of emotional crisis. This was brought on by his or her expectations being somehow reversed or upset by Act 1’s trigger. The crisis is an internal moment; there is no plot.
The struggle is the process in which the protagonist works out the dilemma the crisis has created. This checkpoint is full of obstacles for the protagonist to overcome.
The epiphany comes in the wake of the struggle. In an emotional moment of self-discovery, the protagonist realizes his or her flaw and how that has caused the dilemma. Like the crisis, the epiphany is also an internal moment without any plot.
Finally, Act 3 also has three checkpoints: the plan, the climax, and the ending.
The plan hinges on the epiphany. During the epiphany, the protagonist suddenly saw the character flaw he or she had been stumbling over. In the plan, the protagonist figures out what he or she should do next. The protagonist could not have conceived the plan before the epiphany.
The climax builds when the protagonist uses the plan to seek out the antagonist for a final confrontation. During the climax, the protagonist brings about the conditions that cause the antagonist to be defeated by his or her own flaw.
Last, the ending comes after the battle is won, which resolves both the inner and outer conflicts. While the emotional story pretty much ended in the epiphany, the ending gives us the opportunity to see the benefits of the protagonist’s self-discovery.
Anyway, I filled all of these out. Each story had different complications, but I managed to get them all down. These are meant to be short sentences discussing the emotional story, not really including any physical plot.
Now that I have done all of this work, what is next?
The Scene Outline.
Here, I take all the 9 Checkpoints and add detail to them. Well, more importantly, start listing the scenes that will bring the 9 Checkpoints to life. From there, I will keep adding and subtracting scenes, moving things around until everything is perfect. Then, I will FINALLY be able to actually start writing my book! Exciting, right? It does seem like a lot of work before I can even start to write my book, but I feel like all of this is necessary. After all, I have written two first drafts without all of this, and now I am stuck and don’t know where/how to edit them. By designing this structure for them, I now feel like I know exactly where to go.
So, what am I working on now? Well, first I am working on my scene outlines. I will not be posting those here, since they may spoil things a little too much. However, I will post bits and pieces as I progress through writing them.
First, my plan is to complete my scene outline for Shadow’s Memories, then work on the adjustments that I think need to be made in my draft. My hope is to have Shadow’s Memories ready to publish by the end of the year.
After that? Not entirely sure. Since I have been working on Through a Dragon’s Eyes and my “Wargs” story in this class, logically I will start working on those once I have finished Shadow’s Memories. However, I am also taking another writing class starting next month, and am planning on using two other books through that one. In the end, we will see which direction I feel most comfortable travelling in when the time comes to choose.