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Jul
13
2015

Figuring it Out -- by S.A. Spencer

Building a science fantasy novel with no writing background and learning as I go isn’t easy. “How to Write” books and blogs help, like a paragraph in K.M. Weiland’s blog, http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/:

"If the conflict in your story seems a little lackluster, take a look at the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist. What could you do to make it more personal — and bring the conflict a little closer to home for both of them?"

My first draft, novel, and writing attempt naturally needs more conflict. Not knowing what a protagonist was (minor detail) when I conceived the idea makes considering his relationship with the antagonist difficult. (I won’t mention changing protagonists from Eve to Niro.)

Niro planned to take over the planet from Reks (antagonist) and free the slaves, but the story still didn’t have enough conflict, so I made them adult brothers. Siblings. Built-in rivalry. I happen to have a sibling, but similarity ends there.

Just in time, I discovered it punched up the story to add a second-act conflict between Niro and Reks, once again from K.M. Weiland, who calls it the “1st Pinch Point”. It goes halfway between the end of Act 1 and “The Midpoint” of Act 2. The antagonist shows strength and power and frightens the reader by scaring the protagonist. Since my critiquers had only read up through Chapter 10, I wrote it for Chapter 11. Whew! Close one. Reks discovers where Niro is and goes after him; their goals clash.

I had already set the Midpoint conflict. Niro and Reks face off, resolving nothing and creating more complexities. An idea for the second “Pinch Point,” (another time the antagonist shows his strength) might dawn on me between the midpoint and the climax by the time I’m there. Sometimes outlining is my antagonist.

In the next draft, though, Niro may fall in love with a slave who Reks kills. Then Niro and Eve (Reks wife) will run off together to free the planet. That might make the conflict more personal. I’ll figure it out, eventually.

Posted by S.A. Spencer 13 Jul 2015 at 01:23
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Responses to this blog

Azarial 13 Jul 2015 at 05:34  
It's so true, the first novel has a crazy learning curve!

I've been at this for a while (aka years) and find most writing sites pretty basic and boring but the link you provided seems like she has a fun way of presenting things, thanks for sharing!
Azarial 13 Jul 2015 at 05:55  
Double post—Puppy slept, and I got some of my (very late) beta for Kathleen done! Real progress
Swat 13 Jul 2015 at 10:15  
Haha Lisa, you posted in the wrong place! (But thanks, I appreciate the beta!) To bring it back. The first-novel learning curve is brutal. It becomes more interesting as you rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and while it remains your first novel, it is very much in its third or forth incarnation.
__________________
Rhodes 13 Jul 2015 at 11:08  
I did write a novel before Jasper that will never see the light of day, but I still consider Jasper my first serious attempt. Looking at the story now and comparing that to its first draft, it went through so many changes. I learned how to write by working with Jasper.
Czar 30 Jul 2015 at 10:46  
That's pretty much the starting point in any serious work regardless of genre. As you write, new ideas come along, ideas that build your story. Most of the time, you only know the beginning and the ending but what happens in between often remains a mystery even to the writer (me in particular).
I have experienced this a lot in a series am working on and looking back at where I started, all I can say is that am grateful I made that first attempt. Much as I may bring in new conflicts, just for the thrill, that first storyline has remained the backbone of my entire story.
Czar 30 Jul 2015 at 10:47  
That's pretty much the starting point in any serious work regardless of genre. As you write, new ideas come along, ideas that build your story. Most of the time, you only know the beginning and the ending but what happens in between often remains a mystery even to the writer (me in particular).
I have experienced this a lot in a series am working on and looking back at where I started, all I can say is that am grateful I made that first attempt. Much as I may bring in new conflicts, just for the thrill, that first storyline has remained the backbone of my entire story.
Richtheo 14 Sep 2015 at 12:10  
Creating novel is like building a bridge, you first get the mortar and the stone work. Plan each step, each piece fits into the next slot. You can allow your protagonist to attack a community. Or have soemthing that they other person desires, but can not get through simple bartering, but that does not work. It can be anything as it is in a story.

Create a frame work for the piece, a follows b follows c and so on. The pieces can have several ideas taht can run from them to there and there. It is like a mystery to the reader and occassional the writer alike as Czar said. The ideas come to the top as you draw them forth. On the occassion an idea comes forth that should have been in the beginning. So, what do you do, throw out the batter and begin anew. You can or save it somewhere else and go back to it to add the new piece in.

Never give up on yourself.

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