Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spark, Spark

It seems I've neglected blogger for a long time now. Hmmm... updates: I'm querying Angel Undercover. I finally wrote a query letter with some spark to it. Kristen Nelson has some great advice on that. Head on over to her website / blog for more on that.

On another note, I'm starting out on a new project! I "pitched" my idea (i.e. read the 300 word preface) to a few friends and they are super excited about it, as am I. It's still YA fantasy, but leans more toward slipstream, whereas AUC was more high fantasy. I don't want to say much more than that just yet for fear of jinxing it. Once it's all plotted out and I'm well into the draft, I'll give more details (though no spoilers!). Super excited. With everything I've learned from editing AUC, I feel like I'm going into this project with a much better head on my shoulders.

Ah, and before you go for the day, I suggest you check out the querytracker blog post up for yesterday. Top ten writer mistakes, uncensored. Very detailed.

Happy writing / living!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Seven Basic Plots

Holy Moly, gone for all of May, then two posts in one day! I assure you, that rhyming was unintentional. :)

From Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories, the seven storylines are:

Overcoming the Monster - A terrifying, all-powerful, life-threatening monster whom the hero must confront in a fight to the death. An example of this plot is seen in Beowulf, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Dracula.

Rags to Riches - Someone who has seemed to the world quite commonplace is shown to have been hiding a second, more exceptional self within. Think the ugly duckling, Jane Eyre and Clark Kent.

The Quest - From the moment the hero learns of the priceless goal, he sets out on a hazardous journey to reach it. Examples are seen in The Odyssey, The Aeneid, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Voyage and Return - The hero or heroine and a few companions travel out of the familiar surroundings into another world completely cut off from the first. While it is at first marvellous, there is a sense of increasing peril. After a dramatic escape, they return to the familiar world where they began. Alice in Wonderland and The Time Machine are obvious examples; but Brideshead Revisited and Gone with the Wind also embody this basic plotline.

Comedy - Following a general chaos of misunderstanding, the characters tie themselves and each other into a knot that seems almost unbearable; however, to universal relief, everyone and everything gets sorted out, bringing about the happy ending. Shakespeare’s comedies come to mind, as do Jane Austen’s perfect novels.

Tragedy - A character through some flaw or lack of self-understanding is increasingly drawn into a fatal course of action which leads inexorably to disaster. King Lear, Madame Bovary, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bonnie and Clyde—all flagrantly tragic.

Rebirth - There is a mounting sense of threat as a dark force approaches the hero until it emerges completely, holding the hero in its deadly grip. Only after a time, when it seems that the dark force has triumphed, does the reversal take place. The hero is redeemed, usually through the life-giving power of love. Many fairy tales take this shape; also, works like Silas Marner and It’s a Wonderful Life.

This post comes to you from pure curiousity. I believe my novel AUC is a Voyage and Return story. Since so many of you are fellow writers, I'm curious... where does your story fall?

Secondarily, does anyone refute the notion of seven basic, all encompassing, never ending plots? If so, please share your reasoning. :)

P.S. Don't miss the first post of today, below. Or miss it if you like. :) So long as it's intentional missing rather than accidental.


This is a short post and it comes from a discussion I had on CC. But I figure it's been a good month since my last post here (AA anyone?), so you might like to hear from me. :)

I'm thinking that my main priority is to make sure AUC remains an interesting read throughout. Discovering a whole new world, with hints of underlying conflict involving your beloved big sister, could be conflict enough for the first four chapters as long as readers are still interested in Paige's story.

I've been rereading a bunch of classics and greats, from Ender's Game to Harry Potter, and realizing that they break tons of the "rules" we all endeavor to follow.

From this, I take that the number one goal of any novel should be to entertain the mind. If it's doing that, keeping interest, keeping the pages turning, then it succeeds.

I think that there are a lot of ways to do this and that it might not be as formulaic as many of us treat it. Heck, if it was formulaic, everyone could write a great novel. I think it really comes down to whether we can write a great story or not.

I, for one, sure hope we can!