The Climax, the end of the of the book.

Well, not exactly. It is the end of the main conflict and the peak point of tension.

Just not the end. Everything after this nothing compares to this point.

How do you do it right?

Have you ever gotten to the climax of a book and after it was done you were just flabbergasted how bad it was or nothing compared to what you thought was going to happen?

I mean not in a good way.

Spoilers ahead.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Cool idea of teens trapped in an ever changing maze and they have to solve it.  Cool idea. Get to the end and find out why they were there, oh the earth was toasted by a solar flare.

Cool!

A new disease called the Flare appeared.

Boring! Stupid!

Sorry, Sickness and disease do nothing for me.

The problem there was no build to that reveal and its climax and reveal was a let down for what was a really good story.

That’s just my opinion.

How do you avoid this? Here are some tips:

  • Know you can’t please everyone.
  • Drop hints to any reveal.
  • The Climax resolves all conflict, plot, and character (for the most part).
  • Hold the Climax in new setting
  • Or a previous one that now has new meaning thanks to a twist or reveal.
  • Build the tension to absolute highest point you can before resolving it.
  • At all costs avoid Deus Ex Machina (God from the Machine)
    • The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the inspired and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Its function can be to resolve an otherwise irresolvable plot situation, to surprise the audience, to bring the tale to a happy ending, or act as a comedic device. Deus Ex Machina: Wikipedia
  • There is only one climax.
  • Resolve all Sub-Plots.
  • Make it satisfying not necessarily a happy.

The climax is the final confrontation of the primary antagonist of the story. It must meet expectations.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of your tips on how to make writing the middle easier. Please post a comment below, and if you liked what you read, please follow me. Today’s post is part of an ongoing series on First Drafts. You can find all the posts so far under the link First Drafts in the toolbar. Starting next week Craft Posts will be posted Monday’s and Fridays. You can also find me on Twitter @timrgreenebooks.

The Middle, the hardest part of the book to get just right. At least that is what many say.

Let’s face it, there are some people who just nail the middle.

While some struggle endlessly until they give up or move onto something else.

There are parts of the writing process that people excel at and others they struggle with. The Middle is just the part of the story where people fail to deliver.

I can’t tell you how many times I have failed in the middle of the story.

Either something that was awesome turned out to be not or the characters who have come alive refuse to do something that you originally had them to do. Of course, to save to save time, you force it.

That last thing, forcing your characters to do something not a good idea.

How do we a make sure that we don’t fail in the middle?

Simple, break it up.

How?

It all starts at the beginning.

The beginning of the middle is after the Inciting Incident.

We covered the Inciting Incident in last week’s post. It is one of the terms associated with writing structure.

What follows the Inciting Incident is the First Plot Point, which marks the start of the middle. Usually, this point is what leads the characters into the meat of the story. This is our starting point.

It is important to note that some authors will actually have three Plot Points. The one that starts the middle and the one at the end.

So where do they place the third?

Simple, right the middle.

While there is always some kind of twist or event in the middle of the book or middle of the second act, not all authors who use the 3 Act Structure plan for it.  While others do.

You may be wondering why I bring up the 3 Act Structure when we aren’t going to use it.

Simple, it is so you are aware of it and if you want to learn more about you can look it up.

Also, the images give a nice visual of what needs to be happening throughout your story. It is the incline of tension.

Tension is always rising as the story moves forward.

However many plot points you see in the 3 Act Structure, I have more.

I have five. The beginning (the beginning of the book or Act 1), Twist (Inciting Incident), Plot Point (Plot Point 1), The Middle, and the Climax.

From the middle of the book on, there is no second plot point. It is the climax.

There will be some kind of an event that you can consider the plot point 2, I just don’t plan for it.

 

From the First Plot Point, I will then start with dropping in other plot points until I reach The Middle. These points are small events that lead to the larger event at the middle.

The same goes from the middle to the climax.

The middle ends once you reach the climax. The climax is different, it will be the majority of the end of the book.

As for how many small plot points I will have from the first to the middle and the middle to the climax, depends on the story. There could be twenty in the first half and six in the last half.

These points are just smaller events. One could be a battle, another recovery from an injury and then a piece of information.

Each point is a group of scenes. Between each point is other scenes leading to the next point. How I connect them is through a scene list.

You may think that I just reorganized the three act structure, I didn’t.

How I presented here is far more organized and easier to follow. I don’t use terms, I see it all as events. Beyond my Climax, I don’t use writing jargon. How I do it is a more chaotic version that is not easy to follow. Maybe some day I will give this organized version a try.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of your tips on how to make writing the middle easier. Please post a comment below, and if you liked what you read, please follow me. Today’s post is part of an ongoing series on First Drafts. You can find all the posts so far under the link First Drafts in the toolbar. I will be starting to post Craft Posts on Monday’s as well for the foreseeable future. You can also find me on Twitter @timrgreenebooks.

 

Wow, Wednesday and I’m just getting this post written. I would love to say it has been because I got into a long writing spill that I just couldn’t stop. Wrong. Excuses go, I was tired from my new workout plan. I shouldn’t have planned to do much knowing I was starting such a rigorous workout. Oh well. Lesson learned and this week I am only planning a little.

As for my goals last week, I only met my Wordcount of 3500 words in three days instead of my goal of four. I only go one day of development in on Sunday. So while I reached my word count goal I didn’t reach any other. There was no fine or punishment for not achieving it, but I feel like since I didn’t achieve my goals and still haven’t gotten last weeks Craft Post up, a fine is needed. So, I am cutting my 12 hours and 30 minutes of PS4 playtime to 0. Yep. Everything I earned a week ago, is gone since I couldn’t keep on task.

Since I have a lot to do today, including getting the craft post done and this week’s written. Let’s just jump into a few things.

Writing Pyre is going, I had a few short word count days last week, but on the last the day I did well. Helped me cross the finish line of 3500. My next scene is a little vague so I need to figure out how to freshen it up.

Something I am going to try is by finishing my writing sessions with the start of my next scene. When I get to harder scenes to write or very emotional scenes I struggle to get them started. This week, I will end by starting the next scene, even if it is just a hundred words or so in. This way I will have a feeling of how it is going hopefully be able to get into the scene easier.

When I am in the middle of the scene I find it far easier to get writing. So the next week will be to try it out.

Developing World Within the Veil and Shattering the Veil is going okay. I am playing around with some plot points and ideas with characters. I may have to make a major change to my character Kiana and what her role is in these books. She was one thing, but I am playing around with another role.

If I make the change it will affect the rest of the series. I am okay with that, but I need to figure out how that will work before moving forward. I am enjoying working on this project again and giving me a little rest from Long Live.

My plan is to return to Long Live sometime in August to work out the rest of the character arcs for Outline 3. Once the Character Arcs are complete I will go from there on the outlining process.

I don’t have a plan at the time of what I will write next once Pyre is completed. It will all depend on where I am with World Within the Veil and Long Live.

As for my Goals for this week, I am just going to be aiming to write every day for the rest of the week and try to hit 5000 words. Also, I want to develop at least one more day this week.

I have decided that this will be the last Weekly Writing Wrap-up for a while. While I enjoy posting these, it takes up time on my Mondays where I can be writing. Since I am usually tired by the time I get home from work, the less I have to do that isn’t writing on Pyre, the better.

The goal is to see how far I get in writing Pyre by the end of August and decide then if I will return. At some point, I will return to a wrap-up in some form. It maybe in a monthly form or something else.

I will still be posting the Craft posts, and it will be on Monday’s and Fridays. I will be spending the next few weeks getting them written a head of time and schedule post.

 

 

That’s right, there was no Wrap-up last week, so we are going to be hitting a review of my goals for two weeks.

No, actually I am not. I am way too tired right now to try to do that. I will say this I met my three days of Writing on the first week. Just barely missed the 3500-word count goal. I honestly can’t remember if I got developing done. My trip got called off due to me waking up with a stomach bug and that was my weekend leading into the fourth.

This week, I had a great week, for writing. I destroyed my 3500-word count by Wednesday. I wrote a grand total of 7480 words out of five days of writing. Not bad.

I did fail on my personal goal of writing seven days, but Friday came and by the time I got back from seeing Spider-man: Homecoming. I was physically and mentally drained. Saturday, same thing. I forced more words out on Sunday, to hit five days, but nowhere like the average 1900, I was writing earlier in the week.

Development side, I got three days. Monday, Tuesday, and Sunday. Monday I finished the second outline and developing the character arcs. Nothing new to say about how I feel like this is going to turn out to be a series instead of a book. Oh well, until I decide that I am sticking with a long ass book. I did a read through outline three and boy are their major plotting issues in that outline. Part of it is because bullets are still missing from the original outline. Not many, but enough.

I spent the rest of the week working on an angle the direction to go but by Sunday I still had nothing. I have a feeling like I am going to need to sit on this for a little while. Similar how my Superhero Epic is now on the back burner. For now. I have no solutions for it and until I get through secret wars I am not even going to try. Long Live was the priority, but with needing some time to go over the ideas of the outline and find the direction, I am left with nothing to develop. Or so I thought.

Something has been nagging me this week and I feel like I need to jump on it while I can.

What you ask? Oh, just book 2 of Seeing Through the Veil or the title I call it by. World Within the Veil.

What! You say? I haven’t even finished draft 2.1 edits yet. I know and I think I am not going.

I know that sounds odd, have a really strong feeling about writing a whole series all the way through or at least a section of it so I know what is happening. What I mean is that my Forbidden Realm Trilogy, I have all three outlines done. I know what is going to happen and the scenes. I can also tell you that I know already things are going to change greatly.

Same goes for the Veil trilogy, and while I have my outlines I don’t have scene lists. I don’t know how writing book two will affect book 3 and book 1. I am playing around with ideas that I may need to change the ending of book 1. Or remove a scene or two but keep the ending. Only time will tell.

So, I am going to start working on the scene lists for World Within the Veil and Shattering the Veil. That would complete the whole trilogy. However, there is a trilogy after and before. Maybe I will just write that whole series and then figure it out.

Well, I got away from my Goals, and so the verdict is I wrote 3 days, giving me 3 hours of PS4 playtime. 5 Days total of writing gives me 4 hours making it 7. Two days of development is an hour. I am at 8 hours. An extra day of development gives me another hour. 9 hours. For every 500 hours over my 3500-word count goal is 30 mins.

If you subtract 7480-3500= 3980.

3980/500=7.96

30 minutes x 7= 3:30.

12 hours and 30 minutes of game time.

Nice.

Here are this week’s goals.

Writing Goals:

  • Write 4 Days (Reward 3 hours of PS4 Playtime)
  • 3500 wordcount

Stretch Goals:

  • Write 6 Days (5 hours of PS4 playtime)
  •  Every 750 words beyond 3500. (30 min additional PS4 Playtime reward)

Development Goals:

  • Spend two days developing. (Reward 1 hour of Ps4 Playtime)
  • Read a few pages from Secret Wars

Stretch Goals:

  • An extra day of developing (1 hour of Ps4 Playtime for each day.)

Note: Playtime is for the week or one really awesome day.

I am removing my fine if I don’t write four days. However, the reward is still only 3 hours of PS4 play time. While I changed it to 6 days of writing, I increased the reward to 5 hours of playtime. As well increased the additional number of words over 3500.

Be sure to check back on Friday for the next post in our new Craft Post series on First Drafts. We will be digging into the heart of the middle. I would love to hear your thoughts on last weeks writing, please leave a commit down below.

Congratulations are in order.

For what? You have gotten past one first hurl in writing your first draft.

The first fifty pages is a tough to write and getting through it and not stopping or setting aside the story for a while is a feat that you should be proud of. Take a minute and reflect on your accomplishment.

Think about how all the little problems surfaced when you were writing it, how you overcame them completed the first Act of your book.

Act? What am I talking about?

I am talking about the Three Act Structure of a story. I would be surprised you never heard of this story structure unless you just started writing or are still young. Just to give a quick overview of the Three Act Structure:

  • Act 1: The Setup and concludes with the Inciting Incident followed by Plot Point #1
  • Act 2: The Confrontation concludes with a plot point #2
  • Act 3: The Resolution which concludes with the Climax and the aftermath

(The red dots are the Plot Points)

Wait! We didn’t cover this in the first fifty pages, what if I am not at the inciting incident by page fifty or plot point #1?

Okay, it’s the first draft. Second, don’t worry about it. We aren’t using the three act structure.

What! Why did you bring it up?

When you talk about the middle of the book, it usually referred to the second act of this structure.

The Three Acts is most known because of how movies and plays use it. I am not a fan.

Don’t get me wrong. Story Structure is important. There are many different ideas out there and in my opinion better ones.

Which one do you use?

I don’t use any of them. I am familiar with Story structure enough to not outline based on any given structure. You can easily fit my stories into three acts and others, but I don’t refer to any of them or make sure plot points hit as specific times. If you are paying attention to how far into the book you are, you will be able to tell when you are about to get to a point.

If you are paying attention to how far you are into the book, then we have a problem. The middle isn’t all that interesting.

Thus the Saggy Middle.

Here are some reasons why the middle is boring

  • Used to worldbuild and the plot doesn’t move forward
  • No Conflict
  • Minor Characters overshadow the main character
  • Tension slows down
  • Don’t know what to write next
  • Write yourself into a corner that isn’t interesting
  • You get bored with the story
  • New idea turns into a sub-plot that overtakes the main plot
  • Nothing Happens
  • The main character is boring or has told us too much about them too early

Those are just a few reasons. You will come up with your own as you write.

The #1 reason middles are uninteresting, at least for me, is they are hard.

So how do we fix them?

We will go into more depth on this next week, but here are a few tips.

  • Conflict (Doesn’t mean it has to be an action scene or battle. Tensions with other characters, or arguments)
  • Suspense
  • A new location
  • Interesting secondary or minor characters
  • Creating sub-plots (that don’t overshadow the main plot)
  • Raise tension as you build towards the exact middle and towards the climax
  • Slowly reveal more about the main character
  • Getting bored google search scene generators and generate an idea for your scene and write it. Don’t worry about making it fit, that is what later drafts are for.
  • Free Writing and not sure where to go, create outline
  • Have an outline but don’t know what to put between the bullets, write about the first idea that comes to mind

The more you write the more you are familiar with your story and the easier it will be to push through.

Don’t think that means writing won’t ever be hard. It is and always will be. It is just some stories come through easier than others.

Always remember that you can try to make something work or remove it in later drafts.

This is about getting that first draft written.

The more you know about your story the less editing you will need to do later. You need to get it written to be able to edit.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of your tips on how to make writing the middle easier. Please post a comment below, and if you liked what you read, please follow me. Today’s post is part of an ongoing series on First Drafts. You can find all the posts so far under the link First Drafts in the toolbar. I post a Weekly Writing Wrap-up every Monday on how my writing and story development week went. You can also find me on Twitter @timrgreenebooks.

Writing Goals for the Week

Posted: July 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

Sorry no Wrap-up this week. Below are my writing goals for the week and will cover both in next week’s Wrap-up.

Writing Goals:

  • Write 3 Days (Fine$75. Reward 2 hours of PS4 Playtime)
  • 3500 wordcount

Stretch Goals:

  • Write 5 Days (4 hours of PS4 playtime)
  •  Every 500 words beyond 3500. (30 min additional PS4 Playtime reward)

Development Goals:

  • Spend two days developing. (Reward 1 hour of Ps4 Playtime)
  • Read a few pages from Secret Wars

Stretch Goals:

  • An extra day of developing (1 hour of Ps4 Playtime for each day.)

Note: Playtime is for the week or one really awesome day.

Ever wonder why most manuscripts are rejected?

The answer is easy, it is because of what is in or actually what isn’t in the first fifty pages.

This may seem unfair to judge something only on the first few pages. You should feel lucky if your book is rejected after an agent read the first fifty pages. Most manuscripts get rejected from the first line or paragraph.

Again, that may seem unfair, but if you had a hundred manuscripts in your slush pile to read through to make way for tomorrow hundred new submission, you would find tricks to move onto the next one.

Most agents and editors are actually hoping that the manuscript the pick up and read will give them a reason to keep reading. They aren’t looking to reject they want new material to publish.

You may be wondering why the first fifty pages matter on the first draft?

Good question. I have already said the purpose of the first draft is to get it written. We have covered the first line and first chapter already, which you can find (first line) here and (first chapter) here.

The best answer is, it doesn’t matter. Especially if you are writing your first ever first draft. Writing it is more important. What we are covering today is tips to make ways to make drafts 2 and beyond a little less work.

Let’s face it a lot of the reasons agents and editors reject manuscripts is because of a lot of things weren’t done in later drafts.

However, there are four important things if you make sure you have in the first draft, you won’t ever have to worry about adding it in in later drafts. Jeff Gerke writerThey are:

Jeff Gerke writer the book The First Fifty Pages, five things he looks for in a new book in the first fifty pages are:

  • Introduce your main character
  • Establish your story world
  • Set up the plot’s conflict
  • Begin your hero’s inner journey
  • Write an amazing opening line and terrific first page

Wait that is five things.

Yes, the last one is something to keep in the back of your mind while writing the first draft. After you write the first line and page, try to figure out how to make it better.

However, let this be done in the subconscious. We don’t want it to distract you from writing the rest of the first draft.

Let’s look at the other four things in a little more detail.

First, we need to introduce the main character. Now, this should be the first person we meet, usually.

Why?

That’s simple, it tells the reader that this person is important. If we don’t meet the main character quickly then we will wonder why. If you go the route of introducing the main character, later on, it still better be in the first fifty pages.

If you go the route of introducing the main character, later on, it still better be in the first fifty pages.

J.K. Rowling did this in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. We meet Uncle Veron Dursley and his wife Aunt Petunia. These two characters are very important in the Harry Potter world. How they treat Harry is what helps Harry determine who is a good person and who isn’t.

It is through Uncle Veron eyes we get the sense of something big has happened and it’s not normal. When we meet Harry at the end of chapter one and see he is the reason and is only a baby we understand he is special. Also, we feel sorry for him having to go live with such horrible people.

Next is you must establish the world that the story exists in.

If you have a world where magic exists, with magical creatures live in, and they don’t shot up until the last third of the book, what do you think is going to happen when the reader gets to that reveal?

Sure you can foreshadow it, but if done wrong it will piss off the reader and they will set the book down and never read it again.

Keeping with Harry Potter, Rowling showed hints of magic throughout the first chapter right up until we meet Dumbledore where he pulls light from lamp posts. Then Professor McGonagall morphs from a cat into a person. Then finally, we see Hagrid come in on a flying motorcycle. Clearly magic is possible in this world.

Clearly magic is possible in this world.

She tops it off when Harry himself uses magic for the first at the end of chapter two while he is at the zoo.

It is clearly established that this world has magic. Do the same with your story.

Third, you better set up the plot.

Does that mean we know where we are going or even how it will end?

No!

What you need to do is make sure by the time we finish the book, the reader can look back at the beginning and see how it sets up what happens at the end.

Some of the worst set ups come half way through the manuscript and all that tells an agent is that you aren’t knowledgeable enough to know where your story starts.

Like the plot of the book, you need to introduce the characters internal journey. How are they going to change? Are they going to change

How are they going to change? Are they going to change

Are they going to change?

Is it for the best or worst?

All we need to know is what the character wants and why and how it might affect their actions throughout the story.

If you have those four things within your first draft, you are golden.

Sure they will probably need tweaking and maybe fleshing out.

What you won’t have to do is add any of them in.

Having to add one or more of those in, affects the rest of the book.

Here are a few other things that will help you in the editing process after you have completed the first draft. First thing on this list from  Writers Digest, is good to know.

Seeing Through the Veil was going to start with a dream scene.

  • Do you start with a dream scenario? Because that’s a quick path to rejection.
  • Does your story have an engaging hook?
  • Do you jump to a new viewpoint character too early?
  • Is there enough conflict?
  • Is there something at stake for your hero?
  • How strong is your first line? Make sure you lead off with something that will catch an agent or editor from the very beginning.
  • Are you telling instead of showing? Remember the old writing adage “show don’t tell.”
  • Double check your point-of-view. Make sure you don’t have any errors or shifts in POV.
  • Check for stilted dialogue.
  • Are there inadequate descriptions of characters and settings (or details that are introduced to the reader too late)?
  • Make sure your characters have depth.
  • Is there a lack of beats for pacing and description?
  • Are you going into flashbacks too early in the story?

We are not going to go over them, they are just there for you know for when you start to edit and polish the first fifty pages.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the first fifty pages. Please post a comment below, and if you liked what you read, please follow me. Today’s post is part of an ongoing series on First Drafts. You can find all the posts so far under the link First Drafts in the toolbar. I post a Weekly Writing Wrap-up every Monday on how my writing and story development week went. You can also find me on Twitter @timrgreenebooks.

Welcome to this week’s Weekly Writing Wrap-up. Before I go any further I realized soon after I posted last week’s wrap-up, I never explained my title of 736205. That was how many days have roughly have passed since January 1st, 0001 CE to last Monday. I am probably wrong, but if you take 2017 x 365 and add how many days have passed since January 1st of this year and that’s what you get. Moving on.

I guess I should go through my goals from last week. Alright. This should be quick. I wrote exactly… Oh, wait I should post what the goals were. Yes, that will buy some time. Writing Goals

Writing Goals: Write 3 days with a $ 75 fine if I didn’t 3 hours of PS4 playtime. Write 3500 words. Stretch Goals: Write 5 days for 4 hours of PS4 playtime reward. 30 mins additional play time for every 500 words over wordcount goal. Development Goals: Spend two days of developing with a reward of 1 hour PS4 playtime. Spend at least one day on Superhero Epic with a $20 spending reward. Read Secret Wars. Stretch Goals: An extra of development with 1 hour of PS4 playtime reward. Write three character motivations for Superhero Epic with 4 hours PS4 playtime reward. Finally, finish Long Live Arcs for the whole book/series earns me 10 hours of PS4 playtime.

That didn’t waste all that much time. What else can I bring up to do just that? Ah! Religion and Politics. So, I don’t know where anyone falls, but if you don’t… Nope, can’t do it. This is about writing and not Politics or religion. Well unless I am talking about Worldbuilding than okay. I guess I have to spill the beans.

I wrote a total of four days…

Ta Dah! Got you. You actually thought I was going to say I didn’t do anything… Wait, you didn’t think that. Okay, I failed as a writer.

Wow! That was a terrible failed joke. Anyway, I wrote four days last week. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to 3500 words. That’s okay because right now I care more about writing every day then word count. Soon, that will change. The real win is that I finally finished Section 3. This is the section I have mostly been working on since I started writing Pyre book 1 of the Forbidden Realm Trilogy. Other than a scene or two in section two. This is where I have been spending my time. I am through it and I love how it came out. To a point. I had to pull a few scenes from section 5 to make the section end on a better note, but I am glad I did.

As of yesterday, Sunday, I am working on Section 4. I forced myself to write solely because it was a new section and was going to be hard to get myself to write at all this week if I didn’t start yesterday. I only plan to write a few words but had an end point where I could stop in the scene that is a good stopping point and can pick up today with relative ease. The goal was only supposed to be two maybe three hundred words, turned into six hundred words. Not bad.

The story is moving forward and I look forward to being away from Taryn for a little while and be dealing with Emily’s section. Hopefully not for nearly another three months. I want to have this book done by September. I didn’t reach any of my writing stretch goals and would have if I didn’t get distracted again on Saturday by my PS4. Oh well and other things.

Development is going strong, beyond reading Secret Wars last night, I didn’t get anything done on my Superhero Epic. I think this is going to be scratched from the goals for now, beyond reading Secret Wars. As for Long Live, I spent three days of Development. One last Monday, and One yesterday actually pushing forward in the last stretches of the story on Outline 2. Still not done with it even after today. I am getting there. I spent I think Tuesday feeding the already arcs into the Scrivener file and making a few tweaks here and there.

My concern over this book not being a single book and being more of a series is ever truer. If you didn’t catch my references above about the finishing the arcs for the entire book/series remark. Well Ha! Yes, the more I work the more I feel it may turn into a series. I don’t want that and while I am still not even close to being able to make that decision, it would be wrong not to voice those concerns. I will look at the possibility once all the arcs are finished from all three outlines and complete the scene list for one book. At that time I feel like I need to break it up into more books I will, or after I write the book I will do that. Not until I can’t deny that it is possible to tell this story in a less condensed way.

No fines this week and with 5 hours of playtime reward, I think I am going to go play some PS4.

Wait! I need to post this week’s goals.

Writing Goals:

  • Write 3 Days (Fine$75. Reward 2 hours of PS4 Playtime)
  • 3500 wordcount

Stretch Goals:

  • Write 5 Days (4 hours of PS4 playtime)
  •  Every 500 words beyond 3500. (30 min additional PS4 Playtime reward)

Development Goals:

  • Spend two days developing. (Reward 1 hour of Ps4 Playtime)
  • Read a few pages from Secret Wars

Stretch Goals:

  • An extra day of developing (1 hour of Ps4 Playtime for each day.)

Note: Playtime is for the week or one really awesome day.

Wow! That’s nothing like it has been. Why are you trying to cheat on the goals this week?

Good question. I am going back to my hometown Friday until next Monday. While I will be able to work on developing, I won’t be able to write. Well, I could, but I don’t like writing on Scrivener App on my iPad. It isn’t the same as being on an actual computer. Also, I am trying to learn programming languages, no not Swift anymore… Well, not now. I am moving more of Web Base languages, solely that is where my background is in. I knew HTML very well years ago before it became HTML 5. If this was just going to be a refresher thing, I wouldn’t change how my goals are working, but it is more of a career thing. I love working for Planet Fitness, and plan to bench up to Assistant and then Manager, how long I will want to do this? I don’t know. Learning programming will give me a viable alternative if I decide I don’t want to do that until I get published and can make a living writing. I need to carve out time to do this. So, that is what I am going to do. Writing and developing are the keys a few days a week. Writing I am still going to be doing every day, eventually. Still building it up slowly.

That’s all I got this week. There will be a Craft Post on Friday, it is scheduled to post one minute after Midnight. Check back then for a post on the First 50 Pages.

 

Welcome to this week’s Craft Post. We are still in the beginning of our new series on First Drafts. You can catch up on the first two posts here. Today we are going to be talking about the first chapter. We aren’t talking about prologues, we are talking about the first actual chapter. Prologues are still seen, but it is usually but established writers. Beyond that, they are considered by editors and agents as a sign of an amateur writer.

“Why are prologues seen as a sign of an amateur? I have one, and it is where I establish my world so they know what it is like.”

You answered the question for me. The reason why prologues are seen as would-be-authors. You are establishing your world in it and not the story to come. If it is the background on the world, it can easily be fitted in later in the book. There are other reasons.

I have heard literary agents say that 90% of prologues are unnecessary. This means that the vast majority of aspiring fantasy and sci-fi authors who have a prologue at the beginning of their book need to cut it. I can tell you from first-hand experience that they won’t like hearing this, even as a small part of them recognizes the truth to it. –Dan Koboldt

You may think you need the prologue, but your best bet is to just make it the first chapter. If you want more reasons why they are looked down upon.

  • Only serve as an excuse to drop into the action of a key conflict or world-defining event
  • Offer unnecessary backstory that could be worked into the novel
  • Often show the POV of secondary characters

While those reasons why editors and agents don’t like prologues, they are some of the reasons why readers love prologues. A lot of prologues serve no purpose to the story of the book, it is just events that take place way in the past. Usually, references a war that may have a very small importance to your story, but not really at all. That information can be added later on. I will talk another reason which I will talk about in a few minutes about why just make the prologue the first chapter. But lets here advice the king of Prologues, Brandon Sanderson who always has a prologue.

Prologues have been done so often in fantasy books that they’re almost a cliché. – Brandon Sanderson

I don’t think I have to say this, but I will anyway. Cliché aren’t good. Before we move away from Prologues, let me give this last bit of advice. If you are dead set on having one, write it as part of your first draft. Polish it as part of your second draft, and then give it to people to read. See what people think, if you get people saying cut it or take the information and put it elsewhere in the book, listen to them. In the end, it is your book and you can do what you want. However, if you refuse to cut your prologue and people have told you to cut it, don’t be surprised if you only get rejection letters from agents and editors.

Moving on. The first chapter. Long gone are the days where you could spend chapters showing the main characters normal life. No longer can you spend endless pages on describing the scene. While I am not sure if it is true, I once read that in the original Moby Dick, Herman Melville spent roughly 95 pages solely describing how white Moby Dick was. I not sure where I read that and it was a good source. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The thing to get from this is that times have changed and wordiness is not a good thing.

If you google What is the goal of the first chapter of a novel, you will get many pages of what the goals are. The things you need to achieve in are pretty simple.

  • Introduce the main character (another reason why not to have a prologue)
  • Give the reader a reason to care about them and their journey
  • Setting
  • Hook us.

There are many other things people suggest like, introduce the antagonist, tone, and theme. All good ideas. Sometimes you need to write to find your tone and your theme. This is the first draft remember, everything beyond the four I listed you really don’t need to do yet. It helps if you have others, to begin with.

Let’s look at the four things I listed. So the most important thing is to introduce the main character. Before moving on, how are you going to do this in a prologue that is set thousands of years in the past? Or if the focus on another character? Look at Harry Potter. The first chapter of The Philosopher’s Stone is essentially a prologue. Harry is only in the last quarter of the chapter. The purpose was to introduce something his horrible family and that something has happened. We then find out and Harry is introduced as a baby. However, that is the first chapter, not a prologue.

The first chapter hits everything I listed. It also gives us a reason to care about Harry. He is a child that lost his parents, did something no other Wizard could do and as a baby and is rewarded by going to live with horrible people. It also hooks us and gives us the setting of modern day London. If you find other lists that first chapters must accomplish, then that chapter checks them all off.

The first chapter must give us a reason to care about this character. I say care not like. A lot of characters aren’t really likable. Harry is one of them. In later books, though you can make an argument for book one as well, Harry is an ass. However, we are rooting for him.

You think going over setting should never have to be discussed, but you will be surprised how often that is wrong. If we don’t know where we are and when, how are we suppose to know what is acceptable and not. In the case of a fantasy world or science fiction futuristic or post-apocalyptic world, we will learn that as the story moves forward.

Then there is the hook. You must hook the reader by the end or they will place the book down and never pick it up. First, let me say this, your hook doesn’t need to be an explosion and giant aliens burst into the scene out of nowhere. It just has to be something that makes us go what, wait a second what is going on. Having some kind of conflict helps or an action scene does this, but it has to make sense quickly or the reader is going to see it for what it is, something just to get them to keep reading and has no real bearing on the story.

Most authors, agents, editors, publishers, the list goes on start your story at close to that exciting incident as you can. While we want to see the everyday life of the protagonist, the quicker you get to the hook the more the reader will be willing to learn about your world and characters. In Harry Potter, we actually get two hooks. One at the end of chapter one that we already discussed. The second is when his ten and about to turn eleven. He is at the zoo with his horrible family who treats him like he is a slave, and out of anger makes the glass vanish letting out a snake that then talks to him thanking him for letting him out.

This is where we are going to end. This is just the first draft, everything else that professionals in the industry say you need to have in the first chapter can be something to focus on in later drafts. Now, the purpose is to write this draft. While we want to focus on writing, you do want to have at least some of the things you need already in place now. It saves time when it comes time to revise and rewrite.

Be sure to check back on Monday for my Weekly Writing Wrap-up post.

 

Welcome to this week’s Weekly Writing Wrap-up. I am posting late, I know. Yesterday was a long day, as was last week. Let’s get right to it.

Writing Goals: Write 4 Days and write 3500 words. The Stretch goals were: Write 6 Days (3 hours of PS4 Playtime) and for every 500 words beyond 350. (30 min additional PS4 Playtime reward). Development goals: Spend two days Developing, Spend at least one day on Superhero Epic, and Read a few pages from Secret Wars. The Stretch goals were: An extra day of development (1 hour of PS4 Playtime for each day), Write three character motivations for Superhero Epic (4 hours of PS4 Playtimes) and Finish Long Live Arcs for the whole book (10 hours of PS4 Playtime).

How did I do this past week? Well, a lot better than I thought. I spent two days of developing, got one character motivation done for my Superhero Epic, and Read from Secret Wars. So, that’s a check on the Development goals. Writing, not so much. Nothing, Diddly Squat, I got nothing Jack. I am not happy about this. We will get to Writing in a second, but I thought for sure I was going have no goals accomplished this past week. Glad to see I did, just not the ones that I really needed to accomplish.

Let’s talk writing. It is so easy to think, I’ll take today off and write tomorrow. Now, this isn’t a bad thing especially when you realize you just can mentally do what is needed from either fatigue or stress or just have a lot to do that day. However, when you say I’ll write tomorrow, you don’t know issues you are going to have tomorrow. That’s what happened this week. Monday, I was tired. Not much sleep. I said sure I’ll write tomorrow and really be sure to hit it. Then Tuesday came and besides oversleeping and then having no time to do anything but eat, drink the coffee and then leave to go work out. That night you get back from work and you’re tired.

That was my week. From being tired to just not sure what I wanted to do and when. Thanks to that, I did nothing all week writing wise. I got my Development out of the way early last week and coasted. This is where someone says that is why you have fines. To be honest, the whole fine’s thing I don’t think is working. I am not getting rid of it just yet. I think I need to find a balance. There are no rewards for accomplishing my goals only fines if I don’t. It’s the stretch goals that I get rewards. I may try a combo of them. Also, they need to be there only when I am not doing what I need to do.

What do I mean you ask? Simple, if I am doing well accomplishing the goals, the fines and rewards don’t need t be attached. If I am not like, this past week, then I need to have them. Maybe I should have rewards going, but only add the fines back only when I have a period like I have been having. It will be a trial and error I think. This week, I am going to put fines on only writing, but not everything. We will get to that. Since I have nothing else to talk about writing, time to move over to Development.

Development went well. I spent a day transferring arcs of Long Live from the notebook to Scrivener. I got behind on this and need to keep doing this. It is helpful reviewing what I have already written down. It is a nice refresher. As for the arcs for Long Live, I am about to finish the last part of Outline 2. I started it Friday but got sidetracked when I realized how tired I was after work, at 2:30 in the afternoon. There was a reason why I slept to 10:30 on Saturday and I wasn’t too happy about that.

Back on topic. I am finally going to be getting to a heart of the story, the really cool part of the story. Not that everything that has happened so far hasn’t been interesting. I just really like the events that happen on Outline 3 a lot. The biggest challenge going forward even after the arcs are complete is that the scene’s list I need to remember to foreshadow what is possible in the later half of the book vs. the not so much in the first half.

Moving to my Superhero Epic, this is tough. Trying to write out the main character’s motivation wasn’t easy. I clearly don’t know him as well as I thought. That will come. Part of it is that I am spending most of my time on Long Live. When I get to a point in that story where I don’t need to really focus as much I will be able to spend more time on this story. It really comes down to that. The first vol. or chapter in the Prelude to Secret Wars was good. Doom kills the Beyonder back during the original Secret Wars and then appears before all the heroes. That’s as far as I got. I look forward to reading more, though the art style is in the style of that story instead of a more modern day art style, which I prefer. I know I will get there. Gotta be patient. I do think

The first vol. or chapter in the Prelude to Secret Wars was good. Doom kills the Beyonder back during the original Secret Wars and then appears before all the heroes. That’s as far as I got. I look forward to reading more, though the art style is in the style of that story instead of a more modern day art style, which I prefer. I know I will get there. Gotta be patient. I do think reading some comics will help with the overall story development.

Before I move onto my goals for the week, I happy to say a huge project that is purely a pleasure of mine is over. What is it? I had to rebuild a database for a game I play. It is simulation game that you can create your own style, to say the least. I was playing it when my VMWare Fusion that allows me to run Windows on my iMac crapped out. I was forced to force quit and due to that, the game save was corrupted. Normally there is back up. I did it first thing when I woke up and replaced the database with the game save backup and lost everything. So, I had to rebuild everything. It simple, the game allows you to do this before starting a new game. I have been doing that the last two weeks and it has been very distracting.

Now that I can play again, and made some changes so I don’t have so much to do in the game I can focus. Besides only allowing myself to play on Monday, Friday and the weekends only after I have accomplished parts of my goals, should stop me from being not so productive. Time will tell, but I am sticking to this or I am going to have to give that game up for a while, which I don’t want to do. We shall see.

Writing Goals:

  • Write 3 Days (Fine$75. Reward 3 hours of PS4 Playtime)
  • 3500 wordcount

Stretch Goals:

  • Write 5 Days (4 hours of PS4 playtime)
  •  Every 500 words beyond 3500. (30 min additional PS4 Playtime reward)

Development Goals:

  • Spend two days developing. (Reward 1 hour of Ps4 Playtime)
  • Spend at least one day on Superhero epic ($20 Spending Reward)
  • Read a few pages from Secret Wars

Stretch Goals:

  • An extra day of developing (1 hour of Ps4 Playtime for each day.)
  • Write three character motivations from Superhero Epic (4 hours of PS4 Playtime)
  • Finish Long Live Arcs for the whole book (10 hours PS4 Playtime Reward)

Note: Playtime is for the week or one really awesome day.

No fines for anything but making sure I write three days. Yes, the fine is high this week. That is to ensure I do it. There will be no reason to cut the fine this week, okay not true. Anything beyond a family emergency or hospitalization or a near death experience. That’s all I got this week. Check back on Friday for the next post in our new series on First Drafts.