Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

I’m Not Trying to Ignore You

God, I am so sleepy. Where did I leave you guys?

Oh, yeah, my FAILURE OF READING. Alas.

Anyway, despite my inability to update my blog on its normal schedule, I have actually been making pretty good progress on the planning for the Book 1 revision.

I finished my visual arcs, and I broke down what needs to stay in the story in the currently messy beginning bit.

I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about this before, but the first, oh, 8 or 9 chapters take place over about five or six months, and they feel a little disjointed. Moving the war to the very beginning of the book and fixing Lana’s internal arc will help that, but if I can consolidate the timeline down to, oh, three months or less, that will also help, especially if I can link the chapters together better.

So now I have a list of just the basic things that need to happen, which looks something like this:

  • Prophecy needs to be around
  • Midwinter component has to show up
  • Bandicore attack
  • Coming of age
  • Midwinter (in some form) so Dan/Lana romance can get going
  • Letters from Queen
  • Meeting with Queen
  • Dan and Lana need to make connection of themselves with prophecy
  • Kira and Cerin need to meet

The bandicore attack has to happen before the letters from the Queen, and those have to happen before the meeting with the Queen, but everything else is up in the air. My plan is to play around with the order to see what makes the most sense from a pacing and arc standpoint, so that’s where I am at the moment.

I also got a bit sidelined by some research. Chapter 8 has existed in some form since the first draft (I think) though it has undergone a variety of changes over various drafts. (Especially since the original version was basically there to show off how badass my MCs are, and that’s not terribly useful.) In short, chapter 8 focuses on sparring to get ready for the war, and it’s awkward and boring and continuously bad, though it does have useful things happen in it (Kira and Cerin meet, from the bulletpoints above, and it provides major motivation for a side character that the MCs will cross paths with for all three books).

Anyway, while I was poking things this past week, I was kinda of like, well, how would they have trained for war? Is there a better exercise they could be doing which is more interesting, or can tie in to other things that have to happen or into character arcs?

And I realize this is something I really should have already researched, and maybe if I were starting the book from scratch today I would have, but this is what comes from having worked on a book for twenty years.

So I spent quite a lot of time looking at medieval armies and how they would have trained (including watching some random documentaries I found), and now I have notes about that, but I haven’t had a chance to go back in and figure out a better way to do the activity (or if I really even need it), but at least now I am informed.

And knowing is half the battle. Pun intended.

Anyway, once again, sorry for the bizarre posting schedule. Things are getting done!

Also, I submitted Hallowed Hill to a contest which was very scary and I almost backed out of doing so like three times, but I did it, and now, while I wait, I don’t think about it.

See you hopefully Tuesday, squiders!

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Hot Damn, it’s 2023

Is it just me, or does every year sound more and more science fiction-y?

I’d like to say I’ve started off the new year with a bang, but the small, mobile are still out of school for another week and I exploded my phone last night, which has been a bit traumatic.

(Not like, actual exploding, but it did hit the ground at high velocity and now the front is no longer connected to the rest of it.)

I did, however, remember that I used to have a spreadsheet where I kept track of all my writing projects and what state they were in, and plan out what months I was working on what, which I literally had not touched since Jan 1, 2021, so that’s been interesting. So many things I’d forgotten I wanted to work on, or forgotten about entirely, and just completely out of date in general.

I’ve got it updated now, so in theory it’s full speed ahead!

Like last year, the main goal for 2023 is to finish the &%@$ revision on Book 1 of my fantasy trilogy. It hasn’t really been touched since the last time I posted (see: holidays, school break–however, my basement is now spotless) but I hope to have things mostly planned by the end of the week. Forward momentum! Positive thoughts!

I may make some sort of tracker, because that has historically been useful, but it’s kind of hard to track revision planning (time maybe?) and I do get sad if I’m missing a lot of days.

I’m not going to make a lot of goals past that, because what I’ve found is that what I tend to do is work on other, easier goals if they exist to be worked on. Best to just avoid the temptation. Plus it divides my attention, and I really need to focus on this. I’ve been avoiding it for years, and I suspect I will continue to avoid it if I give myself the chance.

That being said, the hierarchy of the year goes something like this:

-Revise Book 1
-Make submissions materials
-Submit Book 1
-Revise scifi horror novella
-Make submission materials
-Submit scifi horror novella
-Revise first book of cozy mystery
-Make submission materials
-Submit cozy mystery
-Write something new for Nano

Now, I know this is overly ambitious, but a girl can hope, right?

(I have a further revision hierarchy, which goes into Space Dinosaur, World’s Edge, and then even older stories.)

Anyway, that’s 2023. Let’s talk about 2022.

The biggest thing that got done was, of course, Hallowed Hill. I finished the draft in February, did the initial edit in May, revised to editor comments in July, did final edits in September, released the book on Oct 1 and did marketing and all the things related to that starting in June. I’m very pleased with the final product, and the speed with which everything got done isn’t too shabby either.

I also finished my Deep and Blue serial story in April, and I sold a short story that appeared in the April issue of diet milk.

I also wrote a post-apocalyptic anthology story that’s currently in limbo (the anthology is having issues coming together) and spent quite a lot of time on the Book 1 revision, for all that I don’t have anything finished to show for it.

In addition, I published a new SkillShare class in October on point of view and tenses.

Oh! And I beat a Hugo-award-winning author in a flash fiction contest at MileHiCon. Which I realize is very subjective and has to do with circumstances and whatnot, but hot damn.

That feels like not very much, but I have to remember that, one, it’s a ton of work to publish a book, and two, every little bit helps reach the goal eventually.

How was your 2022, squiders? Big plans for 2023?

I’ll be back later in the week with my yearly reading round-up for 2022.

Chipping Away at It

The hell? WordPress is giving me prompts now. I guess that could be useful? Anyway, moving on.

I’m making decent progress on my chart. I do think that’s going to be helpful. Right now I’m putting in the plot points that already exist in the story, and then I’ll go back in and add in additional things that are missing. From there, I should be able to map what changes need to go into what chapters, and revision can finally get going.

Well, the actual moving parts bit. I do think the planning portion is the most important part of any revision. It’s best to make sure you know what you’re changing and why before you start messing around.

I’m not going as quickly as I would like, but again, as I keep reminding myself, it is Christmas, it is December, and I am regularly working on it and making progress, and that’s really the best that can be done.

As for the holidays, I mailed out the last of my Christmas cards this morning and bought the last of the presents today (except I’ve remembered I still need to get something for the dog), and I have about half of everything wrapped. All in all, Christmas is in excellent shape, so I’m feeling pretty good about that too.

I do need to read three more books to hit my yearly goal of 50 books, but I’m about halfway through two, and a third of the way through another, though I’ll probably drop that one until I get through my stash of Christmas mysteries. Mmm, Christmas mysteries. Single-handedly helping me reach my yearly reading goal for like five years running now.

One of the books I’m a little over halfway through is The Ghosts of Christmas Past, which is a short story collection of ghost-related Christmas stories from the last 200 years or so. It is excellent, and most of the stories have been quite good. Maybe I’ll write a Christmas related ghost story here sometime. But I recommend it if you like that sort of thing.

I am also working on the content edit for the next Turtleduck Press release. That is definitely going slower than I would like, but oh well. It shall get done. It shall all get done.

I make no guarantees about posts between now and Christmas, or, hell, now and the New Year. Fingers crossed, but I promise nothing.

Happy holidays to you, squiders, whichever ones you celebrate, and if I don’t see you before, I shall see you in 2023.

Good Job, Past!Kit

Good news, squiders. It turns out that earlier in the year, before I switched the revision/marketing for Hallowed Hill, I went through and outlined the current state of Book 1, including notes on what the chapter was versus what it needed to be, and where the three major plotlines were, and so forth.

So, yay! I don’t need to do that again. Though it does underscore how far I’d gotten into revision planning before I had to reverse course. Sigh.

(Though I did have someone this week tell me that Hallowed Hill was really good, and that they had to stop reading it at night, because it was too creepy. Bwhahahahahaha!)

So I went back through the notes past!me made, and I read through and expanded some freewriting and plot thoughts, and poked at the wonky subplots that I mentioned on Tuesday. So all I need to do now is to line up my three major plotlines (in the current draft they’re a bit bunchy) and make sure they’re progressing properly and without bunching, and then I can outline my revision and get going.

I tried to do this earlier today (actually that’s why this is so late, I was hoping to have it done before I blogged) but I tried to do it using the tracker I use for my subplots, and that wasn’t working because I couldn’t see the plotline versus the other plotline.

So I’ve made a visual tracker.

A mostly empty notebook sheet

As you can see, I haven’t populated it yet, but I’m hoping I can lay the major plot points out versus each other here, so I can see where they’re interplaying and make sure they’re not bunching, and also that all three are progressing throughout the entire book. I’ve got my chapters across the top for reference.

I’ve not tried a visual method like this before, so fingers crossed that it’s going to work and make sense.

Who knows, by the time I blog next week, I might actually be getting somewhere. Fingers crossed!

Also having medication for my back is helping so much. Like, it still hurts, and I’m still getting nerve pain, but it’s all dulled and I can mostly operate normally. SUCH a huge difference.

Right! See you guys next week!

WriYe and Nano

Hey, so I realized that I hadn’t done the WriYe blog prompt for the month. And the month ends tomorrow.

(How goes my revision, you might ask. Well, I got to the chapter in the character book that talked about character arcs, and I was like, YES, give me tips on how to make a character arc, I need ideas for this so I can fix Lana’s arc, but it didn’t. It was like, here’s how you check your arc to make sure you’re not missing anything. I did eventually sit down and pull out a character arc, which is a huge step, but the book wasn’t as much help as I needed, and this was the area I really wanted help with. Alas.)

Anyway, prompt: Your thoughts on NaNoWriMo.

Being November, of course, it always comes back to NaNoWriMo.

(Funnily enough, WriYe, when I first joined it, was NaNoWriYe, and was a direct spinoff.)

I have been doing Nano forever. I’m sure I’ve told you guys this. I seriously considered doing it in 2002 (it started in 1999) and ended up not doing it as I was double majoring in two engineering degrees at the time and figured that was too much all at once, and 2003 was going to go the same way, except I woke up on Nov 3 with a fully-formed plot and gave into the urge.

2003 Nano was a very different place than modern Nano. I think there were only 5000 of us doing it. You could actually keep up with the entirety of the message boards.

I did not win Nano in 2003. I got, oh, 29K? I also got a concussion and the death flu. And that story has never been touched again.

I did and won Nano 2004-2011. In that time I wrote Book 1 (2004, 2005, 2009, 2010), Broken Mirrors (2006), What Lurks Beneath the Bleachers (2007), Shards (2008), and Book 2 (2011). (Book 1 lurks everywhere. Still. Continuously.)

Then the bigger, mobile one arrived, and I took a break.

2014 I won again with the Space Dinosaurs story, and then the smaller, mobile one showed up, and I didn’t come back until 2019, where I won with World’s Edge, and in 2020 I wrote my first ever complete draft with my cozy mystery.

Last year I only got 31K on Hallowed Hill, and yet here we are a year later, with it published and everything.

Nano was a huge deal to me when I was first getting started with writing. I mean, I’d always told stories, as long as I could remember, in various forms, but I didn’t often finish stories. I had (maybe still do, somewhere) a folder in high school where I’d put all my stories, and it was dozens of story starts–a few pages, maybe a chapter or two–but they never went anywhere. I never finished anything. I never even got more than a thousand words or so.

That first Nano, in 2003, showed me that I was capable of writing more. And when I got the initial draft of Book 1 done in 2005, that was huge. I had written a novel. Yes, it was terrible, but it was done.

And that is the magic of Nano–the ability to show you that you are capable of more than you think you are. And when I was first starting out, I needed that.

In 2006 I started writing year-round. I joined a number of writing groups, including WriYe, and I began to expand as a writer.

But now that I am a more experienced writer–Nano doesn’t really work for me anymore. I know I can write 50000 words in a month, but sometimes that’s not the right choice. Sometimes I need to focus on revising what I’ve already written instead of churning out more words. And Nano itself has changed. There’s so many people that it’s easy to feel lost, and not make the connections that used to be easy.

I will always remember Nano fondly. I lived in the Bay Area in the mid-2000s, and I got to meet Chris Baty (the founder) on several occasions, and he even remembered my name most of the time. I think I’m in some promotional video in there somewhere. And on one memorial occasion, I went to Nano HQ to help them box up and mail out merch that people had ordered.

(I’m sure they don’t do that themselves anymore.)

I love Nano, but I’m not in love with Nano, you know?

I think it’s a great program, and I hope many more people find it and get what they need out of it. It’s just not what I need anymore.

Thoughts on Nano, squiders? Thoughts on the impending avalanche that is Christmas? Hell, thoughts on character arcs?

In the Depths of Character Exercises

Where did I leave you, squiders, before I forgot Tuesday existed? Oh, right. With the grand plans that I was going to have an updated revision outline and be ready to dig into actual revision.

Well, we haven’t gotten there. But there are definitely ideas swimming around, on that front.

When I found the notes for the revision that I did before Hallowed Hill took priority, I also found some character notes I’d started.

You see, back in, uh, 2017, I think, my sister and I went to the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference. Which was a bit of a mess emotionally, for me, but I went to some good panels and reconnected with other writers I knew, and so forth and so on.

One of the best panels I went to was run by a writing acquaintance of mine, Stant Litore. I don’t remember what it was about (though, hold on, I’ll check the archives here…) Aha. I did a panel by panel breakdown, good job me. The panel Stant did was called Bringing Characters to Life on the Page. Anyway, long story short (too late), I was so impressed by the panel I went and bought his book on the subject, Write Characters Your Readers Won’t Forget.

This is a short book full of character exercises and, at some point between May of 2017 and whenever I started poking at Book 1 again, I did the first couple of exercises with both Dan and Lana and then gave up on the whole thing.

(I am not and have never been great with writing exercises, which is probably a failing of mine.)

Anyway, since they were literally on the page before my revision notes, I was reminded that I own this book and, since a lot of the beta feedback I got was specifically about Lana (we talked about that two weeks ago), I thought, hey, I should run through the book and do the exercises and focus specifically on Lana and see if I can fix the whole thing that way.

Except, of course, this is taking a while. I’m on exercise 11? of 40. The last few exercises have been on character work in general instead of character work in specific, which is less helpful, so I may jump ahead to save time. Characterization is not a weakness of mine, so I’m finding this section a bit tedious.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of things.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to. Maybe next week we’ll be outlining, but who knows with the turkey holiday (I must procure a turkey) coming up and the small, mobile ones being out of school. Monday, at least, I’m thinking of proclaiming Sewing Day, where the smaller, mobile one and I will finish the Loch Ness Monster stuffies we started over the summer, I will finish my mending, and the bigger, mobile one can work on the cloak he so desperately wants (we bought the supplies for it a few weeks ago).

Thoughts on character exercises, squiders? Any you’ve found especially helpful?

Killing My Darlings

Hey, squiders. You’ve probably heard the term “kill your darlings” before. Some people take it to mean that you have to get rid of anything you truly love about a story to make it better, but what it really means is that you have to look at everything and, no matter how much you love something, if it’s not helping tell the story, it’s got to go.

My brain gets in this weird rut every time I start a revision. A “this is the way the story has to go and I can’t possibly figure out a different way it can go, even though this way has problems” rut.

It is ridiculous. I have gutted so many stories. I have added characters, removed characters, smooshed multiple characters into a single character, changed people’s personalities, motivations, arcs. I have taken out what at one point felt like essential plot points, and I have rerouted entire subplots. Or taken out subplots. Or added new ones in.

And, especially looking at Book 1, which I have written three entire drafts of (the first one being 93K, the most recent 116K)–nothing should be sacred at this point. I have removed characters and renamed other ones. I have changed people’s roles in the stories and done personality triage. I have added in a ton of subplots over the years, and the only real thing that is the same from the initial draft to the current draft is where the book ends.

Yet my brain still goes into the “HOW CAN I POSSIBLY CHANGE THE WAY THE STORY GOES; THE STORY GOES LIKE THIS” mode every time.

It may be because each draft the story gets ever closer to actually working. The first draft…had so, so many issues. It was a first draft, to be sure, but it was also my first draft. The first complete novel draft I’d ever finished. It was never going to work as it was. If I recall correctly, I wrote half of Book 2 and had to stop, because I’d written Book 1 in such a way that the story was irreparably broken, and there was no way to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

I had a number of partial drafts before I decided to rewrite the whole thing. The second draft was infinitely better! I wrote drafts of Book 2 and Book 3 (still, arguably, both fairly solid despite the changes I made on the third draft) with no issues. And the third draft fixed many more problems.

It is somewhat infuriating to still have problems.

Because Draft 3 included a number of major changes, and because the book is fairly solid, I think that may be why I’m getting such strong “NO THE STORY CANNOT CHANGE” vibes at the moment. Or it may just be that I get them every major revision and I don’t remember because it’s been a hot minute. Hallowed Hill didn’t need any major changes, just some clarification and a couple of subplots that needed to be evened out, so I didn’t go through this then. And I’ve been working on and off on revising this version of Book 1 since, oh, 2017 or something. So this may also be the longest I’ve been on a particular draft of Book 1 as well.

I did find my notes from earlier in the year when I started ramping up the revision (before Hallowed Hill got moved up in the publication schedule and I needed to switch projects). Which is good, because I totally forgot I was going to move the plot point from Chapter 6 to before the story starts. Ha. Haha.

Back then, I also made a list of problems and potential fixes, which includes such gems as “Problem: First part of book feels disjointed; Fix: Giving Lana internal conflict will help, as will, hopefully, war already being declared” but also things like “Problem: Chapter 8 sucks; Fix: ???”

Good job, past!me. I’m very proud.

I think the next step forward is to look at my subplots and the main plot, and look at what ABSOLUTELY must happen and what is changeable, and move things around in an outline form until it looks right. And then I can rewrite as necessary and, fingers crossed, the book can finally, FINALLY be ready to move to the next step, which will be submission to agents and publishers.

Wish me luck! And cross your fingers that I shall be able to quiet the “OH NO DON’T CHANGE THE STORY” voice enough to get all my ducks in order.

I’ve got a promo for you on Thursday, squiders, and I’ll see you back here on next Tuesday (hopefully with a completed, updated outline).

MileHiCon Aftermath and a Look at November

Oof, sorry for going all radio silence all week, squiders. Everything is fine! Except I’m avoiding editing my SkillShare class, not sure why. I think it’s because I feel like I need it to be quiet and I keep getting distracted by other things. Who knows.

MileHiCon went well! I got less things done around my panels and stuff than normal, which I think is because I had more panels, and also because I didn’t get to doing my research for the panels before the con. They moved Fall Break on us and so I had the small, mobile ones all week, so that was a bit distracting.

(Also, apparently I’m out of copies of Hidden Worlds. I didn’t think to check the stock on the older books before the con, so that’s on me.)

Basically all I got done was some pages in my sketch travel journal about our Scotland trip. (Shhh, pay no attention to the fact that it’s been almost five months since we got back from Scotland) and the panel research that I should have done earlier.

Oh well. It’s fine. Always good to see everyone and make new connections, and I sold a good number of books too.

The panels were kind of a mixed bag. The Night Vale panel was fun–I love Night Vale–but it wasn’t reader’s theater so much as round robin reading, where we all sat in a circle and read for a bit before passing it on to the next person. Didn’t seem to be any reason to have panelists, honestly. I’ve never been to this particular panel before because it’s at 10 pm and normally I’m out of the Con by 8 or 9 at the latest (if I’ve stayed for the costume contest and literacy auction), and, to be honest, it felt very late to me and I don’t know that I would do again in the future.

The Flash Fiction Chopped panel was the best of the bunch. It was a flash fiction writing contest set up somewhat like the Chopped cooking show. So each round the audience gave us a character, a setting, and a conflict, and then we got a few minutes to write based off of those prompts. Each round someone was cut, based on audience vote. There were four of us, and, hey, I won! One of the other panelists had won a Hugo, even. Now, I realize that this is completely arbitrary, and that in this particular case with these particular prompts I was able to write a better story than the others, and in other circumstances someone else probably would have won, but it was a big boost to my confidence and now I can say I beat a Hugo Award-winning author in a writing contest.

The Seelie, Unseelie, and Beyond panel was fae-focused, as expected, but it’s good that I looked at stuff beforehand, because there was also an aspect where we were supposed to bring and read from a fae-related story. Now, I trolled through every story I’ve ever had published (surprisingly a lot) and I’ve never had an explicit faerie story published, partially because, well, I don’t really write them. There was, of course, the Changeling novel I spent most of 2020 on before giving up on it, but that had many issues (not least being that I was having issues getting the fae elements to be as alien as I wanted them to be), so that wasn’t going to work. I ended up doing To the Waters and the Wild (currently available in The Best of Turtleduck Press, Vol 1) which hints at fae and the Otherworld without being explicit about it. And the rest of the panel went fine, because I do actually know quite a bit about fae nonetheless. It felt all awkward though, because I sat next to Carol Berg and had a terrible bout of imposter syndrome (even though I’ve known Carol for years and she is very nice), so that was fun.

(Normally you can’t ever get on panels that ask for panelists to read their stories, because everyone wants to be on them, so I’m not really sure how I landed this. Maybe con staff just likes me.)

Beyond the 3 Laws of Robotics went, well, not great. Robotics is not my forte, and I don’t even use them in stories that much when I’m doing scifi, though I have read a lot of Asimov’s robotics stuff. And I did do a fair amount of research, about why the 3 Laws aren’t actually useful for programming, and alternatives that have been put forward instead, and some research on AIs and AI laws that have been passed, but I’ll admit it was pretty top level stuff, and I was sitting next to a guy who actively works in robotics and specializing in general AI. I always feel silly when I’m on a tech panel that I don’t really understand, because I’m invariably the only woman and 15-20 years younger than the other panelists.

(Con staff knows I used to be an aerospace engineer, so I feel like sometimes they just use me as filler on tech panels that they didn’t get enough interest on.)

All in all, though, a good experience. The larger, mobile one may actually build a Critter for the Critter Crunch for next year. We shall see.

Now, of course, we’re a few days out from November (and Halloween–I’m going to be a unicorn, one of those nice, warm fuzzy pajama type costumes) and we must, as always, acknowledge the omnipresent looming of NaNoWriMo.

Now, as perhaps you can guess due to the lack of posts on the subject, I’m not going to be participating this year. Well, I am, and I’m not.

Hallowed Hill has taken a lot of my time this past year–I outlined it in August, wrote it November through February, edited it in May and July, and spent August through now on publication and marketing. One one hand, yay, I got a book out in about a year! On the other hand, I’m a bit tired. And definitely not ready to start something new, not when I’ve got four books that need to be revised.

So I’m going to work on my Book 1 revision during November. I actually think this is going to go really well. It gives me an excuse to go to write-ins, which I’ve desperately missed the last few years. And if I set myself some sort of goal (is 50 hours too much? Probably. Maybe 25 hours), even if I don’t reach it, it hopefully gives me the dedication I need to make some real progress, or maybe even finish it up.

So that’s my plan. A little late in the year to really be digging into the revision, but oh well.

How are you doing, squiders? Thoughts about November?

WriYe and Writing Courses

Hey, guess what I forgot to do in September?

Here’s the prompt from WriYe: Share your favorite books, courses, or websites you like to visit to grow your writing!

I’m firmly of the belief that there’s always more to learn about just about anything, and so I do periodically take classes, go to webinars, and read books about writing. Sometimes these books are specific to a genre or an area of writing, and sometimes they’re not.

I have found, though, that a lot of the stuff goes over the same ground, most of which is not helpful at this point (because I already know it). So something does need to be a little more unique these days.

ANYWAY though.

One of my very favorite writing books is Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Pacing was long an issue for me, with many very badly jacked up first drafts (and some second drafts) in my past. This is the book that fixed all that for me.

Do you know how many pacing issues I had in my first draft of Hallowed Hill? NONE. This is hugely different than when I had to completely reconstruct the pacing on Shards to make the story make any sort of logical sense. I am cured, and this book is the cause.

(Seriously, this is the only note I got from the editor about my pacing for HH: “The pacing is good throughout, with a nice balance of Martie in problem-solving mode, moments of terror and despair, and enough support from expected and unexpected sources to keep her going.”)

The other thing that was very influential on me was Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel class. This taught me how to effectively revise, and it’s done in such a way that the steps are fairly easy to copy and use yourself, and I have used this on every book since I went through the class. (Including Hallowed Hill!) I have modified the procedure a bit, but this is a wonderful class if you’re having issues figuring out how to edit your own stuff.

(Holly also has a free class, How to Write Flash Fiction, which is also quite useful and has actually gotten me a number of sales on my flash fiction.)

There are a ton of other resources out there–so many great ones, really. It’s overwhelming, and you can (and I have) spent a ton of time (perhaps too much time) looking at stuff. You have to remember to balance your learning with your doing.

Oh, all right, one more. My favorite writing website is Fiction University. Janice Hardy runs this site (and also has a number of How To writing books and workbooks) and it’s been a go-to of mine for years. I don’t read every post, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there.

All right, well, those are my favorites! Any thoughts? What has worked best for you?

Master Plot Series: Other Plot Archetypes

Well, squiders, we’ve reached the end of our summer series. We’ve looked at SO MANY plot archetypes. 7 basic plots, 20 master plots, whatever the 36 plot list was called.

So, we’ve done them all, right?

You would be WRONG.

We’ve mentioned this before, but the whole plot archetype thing is really subjective, and where people draw the differences varies wildly. The three sets we went through are the most popular delineations, but they’re far from being the only ones.

So, to finish up our summer series, I thought I’d give you a quick look at some of the other plot archetype lists.

The Hero’s Journey

Perhaps the most classic of all plot archetypes is the Hero’s Journey, which was created by Joseph Campbell. There are 12 stages:

1. The Ordinary World

2. The Call to Adventure

3. Refusal of the Call

4. Meeting the Mentor

5. Crossing the Threshold

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

7. Approach to the Inmost Cave

8. The Ordeal

9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)

10. The Road Back

11. Resurrection

12. Return with the Elixir

Kurt Vonnegut’s 6 Archetypes

Vonnegut’s archetypes are based on the main character’s arc through each story.

1. Rise, or “Rags to Riches

2. Fall, or “Riches to Rags”

3. Fall Then Rise, or “Man in a Hole”

4. Rise Then Fall, or “Icarus”

5. Rise Then Fall Then Rise, or “Cinderella”

6. Fall Then Rise Then Fall, or “Oedipus”

The Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index

This is a classification system that was developed for European folklore, and divides those stories up into seven categories with subcategories.

1. Animal Tales

Example subcategories:

  • Wild Animals
  • The Clever Fox (And Other Animals)
  • Wild Animals and Domestic Animals
  • Wild Animals and Humans
  • Domestic Animals

2. Tales of Magic

Example subcategories:

  • Supernatural Adversaries
  • Supernatural or Enchanted Relative
  • Supernatural Tasks
  • Supernatural Helpers
  • Magic Objects
  • Supernatural Power or Knowledge

3. Religious Tales

Example subcategories:

  • God Rewards and Punishes
  • The Truth Comes to Light
  • Heaven
  • The Devil

4. Realistic Tales

Example subcategories:

  • The Man Marries the Princess
  • The Woman Marries the Prince
  • Proofs of Fidelity and Innocence
  • Good Precepts
  • Clever Acts and Words
  • Tales of Fate
  • Robbers and Murderers

5. Tales of the Stupid Ogre/Giant/Devil

Example subcategories:

  • Labor Contract
  • Partnership between Man and Ogre
  • Contest between Man and Ogre
  • Ogre Frightened by Man
  • Man Outwits the Devil
  • Souls Saved from the Devil

6. Anecdotes and Jokes

Example subcategories:

  • Stories about a Fool
  • Stories about Married Couples
  • Lucky Accidents
  • Jokes about Clergymen and Religious Figures
  • Anecdotes About Other Groups of People
  • Tall Tales

7. Formula Tales

Example subcategories:

  • Cumulative Tales
  • Chains Based on Numbers/Objects/Animals/Names
  • Chains Involving Death
  • Chains Involving Eating
  • Catch Tales

Man vs. ?

You probably remember these from school. These focus on the challenges that the main character is confronting. (Also, most modern lists have changed this to Person vs. or Character vs.)

  • Character vs. Character(s)
  • Character vs. Society
  • Character vs. Nature
  • Character vs. Technology
  • Character vs. Supernatural
  • Character vs. Fate
  • Character vs. Self

And these are just some of what comes down to many, many different archetype breakdowns.

So, now that we’ve talked about the varying plot archetypes–what good are they? What can we do with them?

Well, a lot of this is all academic. But, arguably, you can use them as a starting point when plotting out your story. If you know what story you want to tell, or if you know the archetype of stories like the story you want to tell, you can use the same beats as the archetype to make sure you’re hitting all the right notes. Or you can use an unexpected archetype if you want to try giving your story more punch.

Or you can try all sorts of things. Or none of them. Do what you want, man.

Well, squiders, that’s that! I’ll have a cover reveal and an excerpt for you from Hallowed Hill really soon, so keep an eye out for that!