There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

How To Plot Your Fantasy Novel May 11, 2013

Hi everyone !

Today I’d like to share with you a few tips to plot your Fantasy novel effectively. Whether you use this template for your first draft or your tenth one, I believe it is always useful to keep in mind the novel’s important milestones. It helps with the pace of the story and it enables you to keep the reader engaged.

one-does-not-simply-write-a-book

There are dozens of templates out there (the most famous being the Save The Cat Beat Sheet by Blake Snyder). I’ve come up with the one below by taking bits and pieces from here and there. I have found it works well for a Fantasy novel. Feel free to reuse and adapt it to your needs…

Plot Point 1 Opening/Protagonist intro (1% in)

Plot Point 2 Inciting Incident (5%)

Plot Point 3 First Turning Point (10%)

Plot Point 4 First Big Twist (40%)

Plot Point 5 Middle Turning Point (50%)

Plot Point 6 Second Big Twist (70%)

Plot Point 7 Climax (85%)

Plot Point 8 Resolution (95%)

Plot Point 9 Finale (100%)

So what do you think? Do you use a plot spreadsheet to outline or revise your novel? Feel free to leave us a comment below!

EM Castellan

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How to Make or Break Fantasy Clichés January 30, 2013

Filed under: Inspiration,Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 6:33 pm
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Fantasy is a genre that is as old as the human race. Ever since we’ve been able to share stories, they’ve featured mythical beasts and people who can wield magic, among other such fantastical elements that capture the imagination. It’s no wonder that today, in the 21st century, finding a unique fantasy concept can be challenging. So many of these tales fall back on the clichés of old that can be predictable and tired. However, because there are literally centuries of fantasy stories and several major blockbusters in there as well, creating something brand new can be daunting. I encourage every and all fantasy writers to seek out that unique concept, but in the meantime, focus on how you can make clichés your own, or break them entirely. I’ve including some examples:

Magic:

Make- This can be one of the simplest fantasy elements to make unique. Change the name of the individual from witch to something new. Have them use magic in a different way than just spells or curses.

Break- Simple. Don’t have magic. I know that might frighten some people, but you can still have a fantasy story without overt magic.

Princess:

Make- Typically the princess doesn’t want to wed, or be in the royal family at all, so you can embrace these features and transform the cliché. Perhaps instead your character is a prince? Or doesn’t know they’re part of the royal line?

Break- Instead of giving a character a royal title, make them important to your world and your plot in a different manner.

Swords:

Make- Let’s face it, almost every fantasy story has some sort of medieval setting, so perhaps the way to make the swordplay unique is to use an unusual setting. Asian or Middle Eastern locales get far less page time than western style worlds.

Break- In your story, you could eliminate swords by giving the people another mode of weaponry. Bows, axes, perhaps something conjured from your head.

Ultra Heroes / Villains:

Make – You can write a great story using ultra-pro/antagonists. The major fantasy franchises have all done it. What makes them work is the character’s depth and motivations. Make them real.

Break- Gray area characters are typically more exciting and interesting to read than those working solely for one side. By having your characters toe the line, you can break the good vs evil convention.

Destiny:

Make- I’ll admit, this is one of the toughest categories. If your story hinges around a prophecy or destiny plot, you’ll have to really sort out a way to make it unique. Making the character conflicted is a start, but there needs to be more.

Break- To subvert this fantasy staple, maybe the prophecy is wrong, or stolen or falsified. That could throw a wrench into people’s perceptions for sure.

Wise Mentor:

Make- Typically there will be an older character who helps the younger character(s) understand the world and by extension, the reader. By embracing it, your sage figure will need some defining feature, a flaw or trait that really makes them stand out.

Break- You can break this simply by not making them magical as that is a typical attribute. Perhaps the character is female, or young, or not human at all.

This list is by no means comprehensive. There’s a whole book’s worth of fantasy clichés out there: weirdly spelled names, limited female characters, the evil twin, people fighting with sword and never getting hurt, the list go on. What fantasy writers must learn to do is locate and understand these clichés while brainstorming how to either make them their own or break them completely. In a world filled with fantasy novels, this is a surefire way to have yours stand out.

~Rachel H

 

Writerly Tools: Storyboard Edition January 17, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 2:43 am
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Annnnnddd we’re back with another special edition of Writerly Tools! On today’s agenda, we’ll be talking about how to organize all of those crazy thoughts and plots in your head.

Now, before you scoff and say “I’m a pantser! I write as it comes to me!”…well, for starters, don’t say that. And then take a step back and think about the complexities and intricacies of the story you are developing. For me, it is near impossible to keep it all straight in my head without some sort of reminder. I tend to pants it and then plot to make sure everything makes sense. Which is how these tools come in handy.

The first one I am going to talk about is one I, admittedly, know very little about as a non-Mac user. But I did see a friend use it and it looked awesome! I am referring to the Storyboard program for the Mac. I saw my friend use it as essentially a plot map with lines drawn to subplots and repercussions of scenes, etc. I was insanely jealous and for the first time in my life wanted to get a Mac just for the purpose of this program. So if you are a Mac user, I suggest checking it out.

If you are not a Mac user (or if you are since this program is now available for the Mac), I would suggest a program I do know a little something about called Scrivener. It is AMAZEBALLS. I have no real words as to why, so first I am going to show you as I gather my thoughts.

win-screens-cork

That’s right folks. Your very own virtual corkboard. The best part? You can layer. These pins can be folders which contain scenes. For me, my folders are always chapters and then I have individual scenes within those chapters. You can keep notes on each item, which can say as little as “Chapter Three” to as much as describing your scene briefly. This is the perfect outlining tool AND it is pretty cheap too. Right now it is $40 (US) but if you win NaNoWriMo or CampNaNo, then you can get a discount. They offer a free 30 day trial where the days are not consecutive but instead are days of usage. So if you only use it twice a week, the free trial will last you 15 weeks. Awesomesauce, right?

It gets even better. You know those character journals and story bibles people are always talking about? Well, Scrivener essentially acts as one giant notebook for you. So there are areas for characters and research.

Of course, programs aren’t for everyone, which I completely understand. Why do I understand that?

SAMSUNG

Because sometimes a good ole fashioned piece of posterboard and some sticky notes will do the trick.

Whatever your preference, I would definitely make organizing your plot elements a priority. This will help you avoid inconsistencies with characters and plot and also help you to really map your story to a timeline. What are you favorite plotting tools? Sound off in the comments below and be sure to check back next month for the Editing Edition of Writerly Tools!

-Mara Valderran
 

Holiday Worldbuilding December 22, 2012

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 3:58 pm
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The holidays are upon us and I thought I’d discuss how important including them in your worldbuilding can be to the realism of the story. Now, this doesn’t mean your manuscript requires Christmas. Especially not if your fantasy takes place elsewhere or in a realm where Christmas does not exist. However, you can and should mirror the importance of holidays in your text.

Holidays create a sense of culture and community and by adding them to the world you’ve built, it gives credibility and believability to your work. There’s a few brainstorming steps you can take to create the appropriate holidays for your story:

1-      Assess the culture and community you have in your world

2-      Review our Earthly holidays (across national borders) to get inspiration

3-      Write ideas and notes about the type of celebration you wish to include

4-      Develop your holidays with traditions and nuances to bring it to life

5-      Insert into your story with foreshadowing and hints before its introduction whether on the forefront of the narrative or in the background

If you think about your favorite fantasy stories, they all employ holidays as a way of creating a rich culture for readers to immerse themselves in. You might not have believed before reading this how important holidays can be to worldbuilding, but with a little brainstorming, research and creativity, you can pull together a wonderful celebratory day or several that your readers will fawn over.

Rachel