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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Following a Blueprint

You can't wait to get writing! But before you do, make sure you have an outline to follow, a blueprint, or as I sometimes like to call it, a skeleton.
The skeleton provides the framework on which you will "hang" your story - beefing out your concept into an evolving living entity. Your story, if properly constructed will add the muscles, sinews and organs, skin and distinguishing characteristics.
This will involve combining your plot - your characters and how they evolve - the villains - their interaction - the history of how they got there - where they are going, etc, etc. Of course, part of my process involved the Guardians themselves!
We know how I devised the concept - but when it came to the story itself, I had to think: Why are they so concerned about society? What are their motives and purposes? When they do introduce themselves, how far is their influence going to go?
How does this fit into where "I" want to go? What's the beginning of my story? Where and how does it eventually end? What main bodyparts do I have to traverse to get from the feet to the head?
Yes - what route will I follow along the blueprint to set out in the first place and then reach the end?
I mapped out the Guardians story in a simple chain.
I discovered there would be six main steps to get from one end to the other.
However, those steps would cover a considerable time, and that might involve making the books too huge to be considered. So, I split the six steps into two main parts - two trilogies if you like.
The first part would cover the initial introduction of the Guardians into society and all the hurdles and challenges they would have to overcome - as well as the villains they would have to contend with - while the second part would......? Ah - you'll have to wait and see! ha ha.
Having done this, I then had to think how I could make it interesting.

I'm an avid science fiction/fantasy reader. But I don't read just anything! I like quality work. And believe me, I was around when the Sci-fi/fantasy genre exploded onto the scene and became a major industry.
I quickly saw you had to be careful what you spent your money on, as sadly, in the early days, alot of rubbish managed to slip through.
Fortunately, there were some quality writers. Myself, I followed Stephen R Donaldson, Terry Brooks, Ursula K Le Guin. As time went by, I found Julian May, then Raymond E Feist, Trudy Canavan.
Looking at their styles, some followed a simple format: A - B - C - D etc, etc. gradually evolving the storyline and characters.
Others mixed it up a bit! A - C - B - D is perhaps the best way to describe it. They introduced the story, gave you some history, then developed the plot, giving a hint about the future. Then - you went back in time! It added great depth to what you had already read. It helped you understand the characters better - who they were - why they were like that, etc. Then it might jump forward - showing how things were - then you went "in between" to see how you got from A to C.
Sounds complicated, but when it's done well - Wow! It keeps you hooked and really helps you appreciate the depth of the story and it's characters.

I wanted my story to be more than just a story. I wanted an outline that people could relate to, see themselves in, become part of. I wanted my characters to be "real". Someone you could imagine as a friend, an enemy, someone you'd absolutely hate in real life and wish you were part of the story so you could be there to get rid of them!
I wanted the development of the story to grab you, and hold you - but - keep you guessing too.
So - although it took alot of planning - I mixed it up a bit. (As you will hopefully see).
That way, I added a real depth - not just to the story - but to my characters, giving them an internal and external storyline, a history with twists and turns that comes out as the story progresses.
AND
As I did this - I made them "real" in my mind.
That's important. If they're not real to you - how are you going to convince your readers?
That's why I developed a very detailed uniform, rank structure, training program etc etc for each and every Guardian from the word "GO".
They have an emblem - a training academy - operations centers and stations. They have a "life".
Appreciating this helped me to become immersed in their world at the "Blueprint" stage.
And now - I was ready to write.
But that's for next time -
Are you ready to meet the Guardians?

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