Creating A Plot – Creativity 101

Time to create

It’s not too hard to run a Google or Yahoo search to find templates on how to create a good plot.  Most can be formulaic in nature, other plots can vary, so as to stand out on their own.  The basic premise of them all is even more simple.  You have a good character (Protagonist) and a bad character (Antagonist) and it’s the conflict between them that leads to an eventual resolution.

Breaking away from that pattern can be dangerous, because certain readers are expecting the story to end in a certain way.  An example is the Romance genre.  The story must have s happy ending, or it’s not considered a Romance at all.

Science Fiction and Fantasy has no such restrictive formula.  There are certain things that are required to make the genre Science Fiction and Fantasy.  One of course, is to have science as part of the /galaxy/solar system/world/plot/discussion within the story. Fantasy can have the same things, but have elements that use magic or have anything to do with fantastical creatures/character types.

Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy are more forgiving when it comes to the format of the story.  It can have a bad ending where evil wins, or a good ending, where good wins. Thus we can further break down the plot of most books.  Good versus evil.

For a time, publishing houses in the mid-90s wanted to break away from the good versus evil cycle.  Plus if you wrote about unicorns, forget making any submissions.  They were being unicorn saturated, with the bulk of fantasy stories had something to do with a girl, child to teen, and a unicorn.  I’ve heard stories where some intake editors who got to page one and found it to be one of those types of novels would shred the book before returning it to the author who wrote it.

Today, it would be easy to stick with formula plots and make the book work out very well. However, I don’t want a good plot.  I want an exceptional, fantastic and well-rounded plot that will grab my readers by the seat of their pants and squeeze for extra thrills!  I want a plot that will cause shivers to go down a reader’s back, delivering a sense of wonder.

It’s what I strive for, and to do that properly, I can’t use the same-old regular stuff most people expect and merely get through to the last expected page.  I’ve developed a multiple-staged process to developing an exceptional plot, and this is how I generally start out.

I create the Antagonist and their back story first.  That very back story will have an attachment to the not-yet invented Protagonist.  What is important about my evil characters is they don’t see themselves as evil.  They see their goals as good, and ultimately important for survival not just for them, but other people they care about.

I invent the Protagonist and write their back story, and have it related to the Antagonist in some way.  Be they a sibling, or a neighbor, or a childhood sweetheart, some type of connection must be there.  It’s what draws them together, or keeps them apart, but it’s a key piece of the novel.  The Protagonist may see the actions of the Antagonist as evil, or they may sympathize at first, only to realize the true depth of the problem later on.

Next I invent the victims.  Be they unnamed people, soldiers, side characters, whoever they are, I have them predestined as a target of the Antagonist.  Some may die, others may live, but there they are, and I put down a mention as to their need to be in the novel.  Say a novel about a war, we need soldiers, some of which will die in combat.  That helps keep the common sense in, and the plot holes out.

It’s here that I invent the location the story takes place in.  It doesn’t have to be earth.  It can be anywhere in the universe.

Once that is done, I ask out loud, “Who benefits and who doesn’t gain anything in this kind of story?”

1d6Once I have that, I ask myself, does my Protagonist and Antagonist have a flaw I can exploit?  I roll a six-sided dice for that.  1 or a 2, no flaws.  3 or a 4, one flaw for the Antagonist.  5 or a 6,  one flaw for the Protagonist.

Next, I create a list of twenty flaws.  Then I roll a twenty sided dice and assign it.  Those flaws can be but not limited to:  Fear of falling.  Lactose intolerant.  Can’t stand the sight of blood.  (Can you imagine a vampire who faints at the sight of blood?)  Fear of clowns. Frequent nightmares.  Insecure around the opposite sex.  Clumsy.  Always getting lost in public places.  Stutters.  On and on I can go with these.  d20

What I roll up, I stick with and make it reasonable within the story.  Before I know it, the plot is no longer an expected map, and thus starts the immersion within the comedy, or the serious moments that make writing a novel so much darn fun.

^_^

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The Idea That Lives Under The Bed

I’m not trying to creep anybody out here.  Now that we have the intent clarified, please allow me to further explain so I can creep you out.

We all sleep in a bed.  It’s the comfort zone where dreams and nightmares circle the human mind, wrestling over who gets to have their way with your unconscious but highly fragile inner-child.

Some of us tend to dream up our ideas.  However, there is an idea that resides not over your mind when you sleep, but under your bed.  When you get up, it sees your ankles and chooses not to grab it.  When you walk away, the idea pays keen interest in when you’re going to return.  Make no doubt about it.  This idea isn’t mine.  It’s yours.  It’s looking for the right moment to grab you.

Thinking about your ideas from the ground up is harder than most people realize.  When you’re thinking, your eyes tend to wander slightly upwards.  Creativity, intelligence, experience and wisdom all conspire to drive your focus away from the floor.  That is why you haven’t discovered your best idea yet.  You’re looking in the wrong spot.

All ground floor ideas start with the basics.  A foundation to grow that idea on starts with a solid base.  A floor, if you can imagine it.  Floors serve only one function.  To support.  So now we have support for that undiscovered idea, and that floor can be assigned your years of experience as a start.

We live on a planet where everything is built from the ground up.  Plants grow from the ground up.  Yet, when we think and process information, we look upwards for inspiration, rather than downwards.

Okay, just where in the fruit-cake bent mind-scramble am I going with this?

I don’t need an idea.  I’ve got dozens of them crowding the front of my brain, looking for some kind of spoiled-brat type of attention.

If you need an idea, you know where to check for it.  Under the bed.  Where you sleep.  If you see it staring back at you with tiny glittering eyes, don’t yell.  Don’t scream.  Just calmly regard it, and with a small, crooked grin, own it.  Accept what you see and make use of that idea to change your role in the world.

I was only 9 when I told my mother that I have no idea what to do.  That I was bored.  She told me to go look under my bed for an idea.  So I did.  I found an old book, printed in 1905 of a story about King Arthur that was originally written in 1890.  How it got there, I don’t know.  I think it was left behind when my Uncle Ralph visited once.

I read it, got hooked, and read more books.

Not long after, I wanted to write books.  Look at where I am today.

Now go look under your bed.  If you find an interesting idea, come back here and tell me about it in the comments section.  It’ll be fun to talk about, I promise.  ^_^

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March 2, 2015 and it’s almost 3am

March has arrived at Mach 3, in my opinion, because February is always so blasted short.  I’m getting ready to process another novel, which I’m keeping on the low-down right now, because I’m not certain if I can finish it.

It’s one of those flashes a writer can get.  Like being hit by lightning.  Ka-Zap.

Those insights can either soar from beginning to end, or fizzle halfway through.  My previous lightning strike was a novel called Defenders of Valinthia, which I wrote carefully in the hopes of sharing a universe of fun-filled moments along with some serious stories tossed in.

I will know by the end of March if this is going to fly or not.  If the infusion fizzles and the drama dies, I’ll bury it in the back yard somewhere.  However, if this takes off from beginning to end, then it will be featured, right along with a call for beta readers.  As of right now, I’m not sure.

I still have The Muliebral Order and One Unlucky Knight to work on, as well as an actual screenplay I’ve been having fun with.  Right in the middle of a chapter for Muliebral Order, Ka-Zap!  So I started on that, and produced the first three chapters in the time it took me to write half of a chapter for the other story I am itching to tell and share.

Most writers have writer’s block.  I have a curse that’s just the opposite.  I’ve got all of these universes spinning around in my mental theater, they’re fighting each other to get told.  I must focus, I tell myself, and I go write something up that’s crazy fun and not even related to my current goals.  How’s that for a twist?  ^_^

Mr. Spock

By now everyone knows.  Leonard Nimoy (March 26, 1931 – February 27, 2015) was a great influence in the world of Science Fiction.  Playing the part of Mr. Spock, he became the role and filled it with distinction.  As a Thespian, I applaud his performance, and I really can’t process the fact that he’s dead.  I don’t like to think in those terms.  I would like to say that Leonard Nimoy moved on to fight evil in a different dimension, and given time, the rest of us will catch up to help him out.

Spock, you’ll be missed.  I hope you and Scotty (James Doohan,  March 3, 1920 – July 20, 2005) are off somewhere in a space station, sharing memories while grinning at the entrance to see who comes through next.

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My Website Daniel-A-Roberts.com Is Back!

90 days ago, the access to my website has been restricted.  There was a reason for that.  Wix offered a very nice incentive to go with the annual plan.  If I paid for a year in advance, I would get a discount, plus up to $350 in advertising vouchers for major websites, like Bing, Facebook and Twitter.  That far exceeded the annual fee, so this pays for itself.

In order for me to have the plan go to work, I needed the site to take a 90 days rest while I saved the money.  Now that is done, paid for and working again, I now have vouchers to pay three times what I spent for an annual plan.  It will pay for itself in short order, and that is how being frugal minded can help my books become better known across the Internet.

My apologies for not spilling the beans sooner on this, but all of my website links works again, and better yet, not a single advertisement in place.  ^_^

Daniel-A-Roberts.com

See you all next week!

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Darya: Queen of the Galaxy is Released!

Darya Queen of the Galaxy Official CoverAs of the time of this post, Darya: Queen of the Galaxy is available on Smashwords in any ebook format used across the Internet.

This is the final book in the Darya Chronicles, and yes, this woman has come a long ways since she was introduced to the wider galaxy.

I’ve always enjoyed writing about a strong female lead character.  The idea of being dependent on some over-muscled guy to save the day is okay in some cases, but it’s much more fun to have that hero rescued by the woman he’s out to impress.

Let there be no mistake.  My novels aren’t written for kids.  People get hurt.  Some die.  Others are out to cause nothing but trouble, and then there are some quirky characters that can bring the house down with laughter.  If you’ve been reading this series, you’re going to be amused by the fact that Lisa the Fabrini Secretary returns, and her antics get stepped up a notch as she pretends to be human so she can understand them better.

I could talk about this novel all day, but one thing everyone should know, familiar to the story or not, is that I enjoy delivering one hell of an adventure.  With two Editors and a dedicated Beta Reader, this is a highly polished novel.

As time goes by and other retailers in the distribution hub pick up the title, I’ll share those links in a future post.  As for right this very second, Smashwords is the only location, soon to be followed by Amazon within the next 12 to 24 hours.

It was a blast to write!  I hope the citizens of a distant planet called Earth can come to enjoy the adventure!  ^_^

Update on 2/14/2015

As promised, here is the Amazon Link to the novel for Kindle.  It went live sometime this morning.  This finishes the Darya Chronicles, and now it’s time to start another series.  Information on that will be coming as soon as it’s nearly complete this time.  :)

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Big Update – Release Date – Expectations of Adventure

The official release date for Darya: Queen of the Galaxy is for February 14th, 2015.  I didn’t target Valentine’s Day on purpose, but it all works out, because if you love Science Fiction, then you’ll love my Darya series!

In the last few weeks I’ve been refining the story and updating my dropbox PDF copy, like all other novels I’ve written before hand, I’ve gotten a unique chance to step back, review the plot and make some minor tweaks.  When I’m talking about plot, I’m looking at the overall direction as well as the immediate concerns for Darya and her trusted friends.

Adventure

That’s a loaded word.  Adventure has all kinds of problems, some are common, usually related to the personality of an individual.  You may love your brother or sister, but you might dislike going shopping with them at a clothing store, but you’ll look forward to going out to a restaurant with that same person.  So what do you do?  Run out of the house while shopping for new shirts, hoping you’re not intercepted!  But when it comes time for lunch, you linger, waiting for the same individual to catch up.

For Darya, every one of her friends and trusted crew, she adores them all.  She has faith in their skills.  However, there are reasons why she works to run ahead to the hanger bay, and the same reasons compliment why she makes sure they keep up with her.

Not to mention of course, who the bad guys are, and who is the true monster.  Some leaders can actually lose their minds if the pressure of their office seems overwhelming, and I’m not talking about Darya on that one!

Being Evil

When the wolf chases the rabbit for a winter meal, who do you root for?  The hungry wolf, who is looking to survive?  Or the fleeing rabbit, who has had more than enough to eat, but doesn’t want to die as well?  The wolf is in need, but isn’t that cute.  The rabbit is not in need, but is highly cute and cuddly.  So the question for this situation arises; do we feed the hungry or do we save the cute one?  Whichever choice you make, one of those two subjects will die.  One from hunger, the other from being eaten.  Choose.

This is how the galaxy operates in this particular novel.  Something seemingly sinister doesn’t necessarily mean they are evil.  Some people on Earth equate being a stubborn jackass as being evil.  This novel doesn’t subscribe to that notion.  A person can be kind and be highly evil.

In a novel I read, written in 1859 and reprinted in 1932, the aged cover and yellowing papers did not survive beyond 1986.  It literally fell apart.  However, the name of that novel was called Duke Reginald and was pure historical fiction.  The Duke was a kind man, who from time to time, invited his poorest peasants in from the farming fields to feed him or her a grand meal at his expensive marble table.  Once the meal was enjoyed and finished, the Duke’s butler would slit the throat of the peasant.  The body would be disposed of, never to be found again, while the Duke would make the announcement that the person was elevated in station and sent to London as a representative.

The point being, Duke Reginald appeared to be a very good man, but was evil to the core.  For a race in my novel called the Scion, I reversed that unique mental image, and gained tons of fun in playing it out.  This is just a mere taste of what’s waiting for my readers.

Sacrifices

No good deed goes unpunished.  Flip that around.  The punished never knows how to handle a good deed.  This is another element added to my novel, in a salute to a real life friend I used to have in my younger years.  The guy was a previous felon, but no matter how good things went for him, he would be terrified of the outcome, feeling that his contribution, no matter how beneficial, would end up biting him.  The evolution of a good man who went bad, returning to the light side again, struggling with how he is treated because of the lack of trust, finds out that he truly has one friend who really cares.  After you finish reading my novel, you’ll come back here again.  You’ll so understand what I just said and why, but to reveal anything more would be a plot spoiler.  ^_^

In ten days, the novel will be released for everyone to enjoy.  There is still time to beta read, as I’m usually making beneficial changes right up to the hour I upload everything to the distribution channel manager over at Smashwords and Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon

Amazon is a great place for readers to discover novels in both paperback and ebook varieties.  That company has made some changes to their business model that is detrimental to authors such as myself.  Because I published two of the three Darya novels to Amazon before these changes were made, I’ll upload the final book in this trilogy to Amazon, and that is it.  Future novels will be distributed through Smashwords and Draft 2 Digital.  Everything that is on Amazon today in ebooks will stay there, but the paperbacks, which takes a huge investment to design and provide for purchase, will eventually be removed within the next six to eight months.  Don’t blame me for this one.  Blame Amazon.  They’re the ones fooling around with percentages for their bottom line.

A Mail Link

The next blog post I make, I’ll be sharing links to the new novel!  It’s not too late to beta read either, if you send me an email in the next few days, you’ll still have a week or so to provide feedback.  daniel_a_roberts@cox.net  Get it free in PDF format while you can!

^_^

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Beta Reading for Darya: Queen of the Galaxy Starts…Now!

It’s not too late to be a Beta Reader.  Give it a try!  Send me an email to daniel_a_roberts@cox.net and I’ll send you the PDF download link.  Make sure you have ‘Beta’ in the subject line so the software will prioritize the mail for me to see among the long list I get on a daily basis.  You’ll have the link in 24 hours or less, usually on the less side of things.

If you participate, you’ll get a list of free ebooks that’s established for this novel.  If you scroll down on some of my previous posts, you’ll see the book covers and offer.  It’s a focus group.  Free reading!  After Beta, everyone else has to buy it.  Act now, you won’t have to spend a penny.  ^_^

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