Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Act 1 - My Formula

So you decided to write a book. Now you can join me as we descend to the center of the earth in a downward spiral of depression and despair.  Just kidding (not really).

The hardest thing for me is the actual structure of the novel. What goes where? There needs to be a beginning, middle and an end but where exactly do those points start and stop. Over the last few years I have taken a few classes, read over a dozen "how to books", surfed about a million blogs and have compiled a list of what has gotten me to where I am at today. 

There are three main sources I used to complete act one. They are......(and in no particular order)

1. The Plot Whisperer  A blog where you can find links to a series of YouTube videos that break down the essentials to a complete plot. The videos are very well done and entertaining. Get your pen and paper handy to take plenty of notes for this is a guide that will take you from the beginning to the end and everything in between. 

2. Story Engineering A book by Larry Brooks. There is to much information in this book for me to tell you about. I will tell you one thing though, every single person I know that has read this book (that would be four people plus myself) found it amazing. 

3. A writers boot camp class I took from author Carolyn J Rose. Carolyn is no longer teaching this class but I have included what she taught us about the hero's journey.

So here it is, the guide line/check list I created for myself to complete act 1...

-Act one should be about 25% of the story. There should be NO back story in act one.

-Open the story at hero low point. We need to get a sense of inner demons.

-Set the first hook in the opening scene within the first 3 or 4 sentences.

-Introduce main character within first 2 scenes (The hero at home or in their normal life)

-The "hook" should be within the first 20 pages or 5000 words. (The hero's call to adventure)

-The mission, set up plot by creating stakes, empathy and foreshadow conflict. (The hero refuses the call then meets mentor)

-Set up, enticing incident (the hero commits to adventure)

-Establish stakes that happen to hero after part 1. Despite tension plot does not begin to roll till the end of act one.

-End of act one hero has turning point and begins new life.

Notes I remind myself of

-Characters must have over all goal. They need to be meaningful and achievable.
-Each scene furthers the plot. (Need an example? Watch True Blood and Sons of Anarchy. Every character and every scene furthers the plot. Nothing happens without a reason.)
-Every character needs a flaw or fear.
-Ground reader as soon as possible (who's involved,where are we, what's going on)
-Invoke feelings.

I am not saying I am an expert or that this is the one and only way to complete your first act. This is just the resources I have used and wanted to pass it along.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book review....The Iron King

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

published by Harlequin Teen
February 1, 2010

Amazon description

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined…Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

"Prince Ash, oh how I love you, let me count the ways." Yes, Prince Ash is my latest literary crush. Now I'm not talking I love him on an Edward Cullen level but he is right up at the top. 

About a month ago I came across a blog that conducted a "crush-a-thon" where two literary characters were pitted against each other and fans debated which one of the two were the most crush worthy. The finals came down to Prince Ash and Jace Wayland of Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. Jace is wonderful in every way possible and I thought if this character is tough enough to go head to head against Jace he is definitely worth checking out. 

Not only did I find this new character to love but I was also introduced to a talented author. Julie Kagawa painted a beautiful world full of rich characters and scenery. The Iron King follows Megan Chase and her adventure where she finds out all the characters of "A Midsummer Nights Dream" and the land of Tir Na Nog are real. Her best friend Robbie, aka Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck shows her the way into the faery realm where she finds herself wanted by The Summer court as well as the Winter court. Faeries in Tir Na Nog do not like humans so Megan must watch her back as well as accomplish the mission that forced her into their world. 

I love strong female leads and this story does not disappoint. The authors portrayal of Puck steals the spotlight in almost every scene he is in. He has an excellent sense of humor and made me laugh out loud on several occasions. That leaves us with Prince Ash. Overall he is good looking, a great fighter, a total gentleman but can still be a bit of a jerk at times. (with good reason of course)

If your looking for a great faery story or romance with some butt kicking fight scenes this is a must read
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