Well, the week is nearly over! I studied more math yesterday, and I like to think I’m making progress. Hopefully that will show on the GRE. I find studying for this test very frustrating. I’ll spend 3.5 hours working my way through 17-20 math problems with the help of my wife and feel like I’ve learned nothing (this isn’t actually true, just the way I feel right now). I’ll get most of them wrong on the first try and have to go back with her help to figure out why I got it wrong and how to get it right. Some of them we’ll have to work 2, 3, or even 4 times before I understand it, and some of them I still don’t understand (and yes, she’s an angel for putting up with this on her days off). Then, the next day, I’ll spend an hour going through 63 verbal problems, get 4 of them wrong on the first try, and find out that 2 of them I got wrong simply because I misread a work in a paragraph. The other two I got wrong because I had the right answer and then second-guessed myself because I’m an arrogant jerk and am convinced that the test makers are dumber than I am (subconsciously convinced of this of course–I wouldn’t say it outloud), and thus had the wrong answer. I need to stop making assumptions like that. All in all, I need to improve in both areas, but the verbal questions are too easy and the math questions are too hard. I guess I’m saying that I wish I was more balanced. Anyway, I have a plot challenge for you, and it’s something a little bit different. In this challenge I want you to work on plotting out a particular chapter or set of scenes. I’ve given you some exercises concerning metanarrative, but now I want you to focus in on the micronarratives of the story. So, I’m going to give you a couple of characters, a setting, and a grand plot, and I want you to plot out one chapter of a metanarrative involving them.
Metanarrative: The work as a whole is a work of fantasy. Wilem, a captain in the army of King Leopold the Fifteenth of Isandria, is caught behind enemy lines with his troops. He was part of an invasion of the neighboring country of Ligoth that ultimately failed. Several of the Isandria units were cut off from their main force and the Ligothi military is currently hunting them down. All of this takes place in a metanarrative about Isandria’s fall from power, and ultimately of King Leopold’s abdication under duress to King Kirthian of Ligoth. Wilem’s story fits into the metanarrative in that his few soldiers are, unbenounced to them, a threat to King Kirthian’s heir, and thus significant military power is (at this point in the story) being dedicated to hunting them down, which has stalled Ligoth’s counter attack against Isandria. Kirthian is convinced that they are an assassination force, but Wilem and his soldiers don’t even know the heir is nearby, and just want to escape with their lives. In the story they will eventually be hunted down and killed, though Wilem himself will survive by passing himself off as a Ligothi and at the end of his story will be integrating himself into the life of a small Ligothi village.
This chapter: This chapter falls in the middle of Wilem’s story. His unit has already been cut off and is stranded behind enemy lines. There are about 25 soldiers with him, though I’m only going to give you three or four. The Ligothi army is hunting them, and at some point in the chapter they need to discover this for sure (though they already suspect it), and the chapter should end on some kind of cliff-hanger.
The Setting: Wilem’s unit is hiding in the middle of the Kirgwood, a large forest that stretches for some 70 east-west miles between the towns of Kirlem and Valosk, and about 120 miles north-south between Lake Piorin and the town of Harlik. Ithali’s monastery is in the Kirgwood itself, some 25 miles south and 5 miles east of the town of Valosk, and Brazak’s village is a logging village 5 miles west of the monastery itself. Forzin’s regiment is currently based out of the town of Harlik, where the invading forces were defeated and cut off.
Characters: I’m going to give you several characters. You don’t need to use all of them in your chapter. In fact, you only could use all of them if you were bouncing back and forth between several points of view. So, if you want to plot out the chapter entirely from Wilem’s point of view, that’s fine, just ignore the characters that don’t fit.
Wilem: the optimistic, even chipper, commander of a small groups of Isandrian soldiers who’ve been cut off from their army.
Goral: Wilem’s older, dour second in command. He’s something of a doomsayer.
Sinit: a mage who was attached to Wilem’s unit. He is not technically under Wilem’s command, but he is taking orders for now because he’d like to survive.
Blask: An experienced scout in Wilem’s unit. The man is a little bit insane, but good at his job and very loyal.
Kirthian: the king of Ligoth who is convinced that Wilem’s unit is an assassination squad sent to kill his son.
Ithali: The prince of Ligoth who is currently studying at a monastery near where Wilem’s unit was stranded. In Ligoth monasteries double as schools of sorcery. All sorcerer-priests in training are expected to be celibate during their training, though they are expected to take wives upon graduating.
Lorelai: a village woman in the town of Krask that supports the monastery where Ithali is studying. Lorelai’s husband was a Kigothi soldier who was killed in the invasion and she is currently in mourning.
Brazak: the grandfatherly headman of the town of Krask. He is a sorcerer-priest himself, though he has never held more than a middling rank and is not particularly powerful in either political or magical terms. Still, he has friends in the Clergy ranks and is not entirely without influence.
Forzin: a captain in one of the regiments that is hunting Wilem’s troop. Forzin is blindly loyal to his king and a zeolot of the Kigothi religion.
Marin: a ranger in Forzin’s command. Marin is a capable soldier and woodsman, but he is also a heretic, though he keeps this very hidden.
Your job today is to use what I’ve given you here and your imagination to plot out the chapter step by step. Figure out the major events that need to happen, in what order, and how to make them interesting and fun.