Welcome to Friday! I’ve been filling out Ph.D. applications all week and writing the dreaded ‘why do you want to come to this school’ essays along with the ‘what are your goals’ and ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ essays. I honestly don’t know anyone who enjoys writing those, and I’ve yet to find a ‘right’ way to do it (I’ve found a lot of wrong ways to do it though). The thing is, I actually know what my goals are (at least five year goals), I’m just worried that the university won’t think my goals are good enough, or perhaps aren’t compatible with their academic philosophy and culture. Anyway, like I said, I haven’t met anyone who likes writing these things. Regardless,I have an exercise for you. You’ve probably done this one a couple of times. At this point, if you’ve been following the blog, you probably have quite a few settings worked up from our Friday challenges. However, I’m wondering if you’re using those settings at all (if you don’t, then look back through the archive at the plot challenges and you’ll find plenty of inspiration for settings). So, today I want you to sit down and write out your basic metanarrative. I don’t want you to building any settings or develop any characters, instead use what you already have and come up with an overarching storyline for a 1, 3, or 5 story series. Plan on these stories being between 10,000 and 35,000 words long and try to have a good flow. I want you to consider and decide on the following points:
1) What locations (i.e. cities, ruins, forests, temples, etc) is your story going to center around? What are the major powers (i.e. national or religious) forces involved and how to they currently relate to one another? How are their relations going to have changed by the end of the story?
2) What characters are involved? Who is your main protagonist? You supporting protagonists? Your main antagonist? Your supporting antagonists? How is each major character going to be different by the end of the story? Is anyone going to be dead? If so, who?
3) What is the introduction, the climax, and the epilogue of each story? What are the three pivotal events that the metastory itself focuses around? What are the major events that come in between them? Try to have a clear but general outline of your plot. Consider what has to happen in the story, and then consider what should happen in the story. Then you can start working out how to get from one to the next.
4) What are going to be your major trouble areas? What events or plot points do you just not know enough about, or are you simply bad at writing? Can you work around these trouble points? If not, is there something you can do to get better at handling them?