Plot Challenge of the Week

We are very tired. Actually, between work, trying to read, the gym, taking care of Tobin and Alayna, and the sleep study, I am flat out exhausted. However, I have a plot challenge for you. Last week I asked you to develop a metanarrative for a story: the broad, overarching details and plot. One of the major things I asked you to do is figure out what the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story are. This week, I want you to narrow your focus. I want you to choose two of those three points (i.e. beginning and middle or middle and end–not beginning and end) and figure out how the story gets from Point A to Point B. You want to treat this in the same way that you did the metanarrative–just narrower. So, if you choose the beginning and middle, then the beginning is still the beginning, but the middle is the new end of this portion of the narrative, and you need a new middle or middles. Some questions to consider:

  1. What settings are significant for this section of the story? Does it all happen in one place or are multiple settings important? Perhaps characters are traveling?
  2. What needs to change to move the story along? Perhaps a house burns down? A civil war begins? Someone gets fired? Perhaps multiple things need to happen.
  3. Who are the important characters for this part of the story? What new minor supporting characters are necessary? How much of a backstory do they need to have? Consider that none of your characters should simply be flat. Even if a character is just a bartender who appears in two scenes, you should have some idea of who he/she is and what his/her life story is.
  4. How do you major characters need to change between the Point A and Point B and what is going to motivate this change? If you want a masterful example of masterful character development over the course of a novel read Glen Cook’s Shadow’s Linger and pay attention to the character Marron Shed.
  5. What needs to happen to set the stage for the next part of the story? Remember that, once you get down under the metanarrative you’re dealing with parts of an interwoven whole. So, what connects this part of your story to the parts that come before and after it? What needs to happen in this part that either ends story-lines from the last part, or opens story-lines for the next part?

Plot Challenge of the Week

So, I honestly think that Alayna and I have been blessed with a dream baby. I struggle to think of something that you would want in a baby that our child isn’t: he is alert (very alert actually and interested in his surroundings), he is exceedingly calm (the only times he fusses at all are when he’s either really hungry or being changed… healing circumcisions will do that), he started nursing almost immediately, he is healthy, nurses well, poops well, etc, he sleeps very well, and he’s cute as a button to top it all off. Anyway, it’s time for a plot challenge. Many of you have probably done this challenge before, so I hope you have fun with it! This week’s post and next week’s post are going to go together. This week I want you to put together a general metanarrative for your story. You’ll need to figure out the following:

  1. Your genre: is this story a fantasy, sci-fi, urban fantasy, spy fiction, mystery, modern adventure, etc?
  2. Your theme: what ideas do you want to explore? Politics, relationship, metaphysics, criminal psychology, theological questions, mystical questions, etc?
  3. Your major setting: what nation, country, locale, village, apartment building, etc is your story set in? Consider that some novels/movies/etc have taken place in elevators… literally, the entire story… in an elevator. Others take place over an entire galaxy.
  4. Your main characters: who is your protagonist? Is he a hero, an anti-hero, a villain, something else? Who is your antagonist? What is his plan and purpose?
  5. Your major supporting characters: who is your protagonist close to? Your antagonist? What major people will help shape the story?
  6. Growth: how will your main characters/world grow over the course of the story? What is the beginning? The middle? The end? Pick out three specific, major events that you want to be the landmarks of your story.

Plot Challenge of the Week

Did you know that Jurassic Park is on netflix at the moment? Alayna and I just finished watching it (though this was partially out of a hope that the more startling scenes in the movie might send her into labor). Her due date is past and we’re both just waiting for the moment when everything starts happening. The hospital bag is packed, plans are made, car seats installed, etc. Now we’re just waiting on the kid to arrive. Fair warning, next week is my week for posts, but if Alayna’s labor happens on a post day… well, I’m sure you can guess where I’m going to put the priority. So, if I can, I’ll have posts up for all of you. If posts don’t go up then you’ll know why (or at least the most likely reason why). Anyway, I have a writing exercise for you today, but if anyone wants to chime in with ideas, please do. For today’s exercise I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to use it as inspiration to design one part of the world you’ve started. This could be fleshing out one of the nations that you’ve already come up with or it could be creating an all new nation or continent for your world:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Plot Challenge of the Week

So… Total War: Warhammer is fun… and addicting… even when barely playable and green-shifted. I’m looking forward to trying the game out on a computer that can actually run it. Anyway, I have an exercise for you. You’ve done this one a few times. 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?

Plot Challenge of the World

Well, very slowly reading is getting done and I am getting used to sleeping five hours a night. However, if you’ve ever done something like this, it isn’t a lot of fun, and it takes some getting used to, so I’m afraid I don’t have a lot left for the blog today. Anyway, I have a plot challenge for you today. I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to develop a part of your world based on what you see. It should be a setting that is believable in your world, and that has potential for stories in it. Here’s you’re picture:

bridges fantasy art cities_wallpaperswa.com_47

Plot Challenge of the Week

Well, it’s day two of only sleeping 5 hours a night and I seem to be doing alright generally. I can’t say that I’m doing great with it, but I’m surviving and I can still get stuff don, which is good. I even got most of my reading for the day done, though my ability to keep a sharp focus for long periods is less than it would be on full sleep, but still a lot more than if I wasn’t sleeping. Anyway, today I have a plot challenge for you. This one is new, but its related to our challenge from last week. Last week I asked you to develop a metanarrative for a story: the broad, overarching details and plot. One of the major things I asked you to do is figure out what the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story are. This week, I want you to narrow your focus. I want you to choose two of those three points (i.e. beginning and middle or middle and end–not beginning and end) and figure out how the story gets from Point A to Point B. You want to treat this in the same way that you did the metanarrative–just narrower. So, if you choose the beginning and middle, then the beginning is still the beginning, but the middle is the new end of this portion of the narrative, and you need a new middle or middles. Some questions to consider:

  1. What settings are significant for this section of the story? Does it all happen in one place or are multiple settings important? Perhaps characters are traveling?
  2. What needs to change to move the story along? Perhaps a house burns down? A civil war begins? Someone gets fired? Perhaps multiple things need to happen.
  3. Who are the important characters for this part of the story? What new minor supporting characters are necessary? How much of a backstory do they need to have? Consider that none of your characters should simply be flat. Even if a character is just a bartender who appears in two scenes, you should have some idea of who he/she is and what his/her life story is.
  4. How do you major characters need to change between the Point A and Point B and what is going to motivate this change? If you want a masterful example of masterful character development over the course of a novel read Glen Cook’s Shadow’s Linger and pay attention to the character Marron Shed.
  5. What needs to happen to set the stage for the next part of the story? Remember that, once you get down under the metanarrative you’re dealing with parts of an interwoven whole. So, what connects this part of your story to the parts that come before and after it? What needs to happen in this part that either ends story-lines from the last part, or opens story-lines for the next part?

Plot Challenge of the Week

Well, I started my first reading for the official Ph.D. program today. I’m rereading Oliver O’Donovan’s Resurrection and the Moral Order and reading Christopher Wright’s Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, which is fairly interesting thus far. It is certainly going to be an interesting summer, that’s for sure. Anyway, it’s time for a plot challenge. Many of you have probably done this challenge before, so I hope you have fun with it! This week’s post and next week’s post are going to go together. This week I want you to put together a general metanarrative for your story. You’ll need to figure out the following:

  1. Your genre: is this story a fantasy, sci-fi, urban fantasy, spy fiction, mystery, modern adventure, etc?
  2. Your theme: what ideas do you want to explore? Politics, relationship, metaphysics, criminal psychology, theological questions, mystical questions, etc?
  3. Your major setting: what nation, country, locale, village, apartment building, etc is your story set in? Consider that some novels/movies/etc have taken place in elevators… literally, the entire story… in an elevator. Others take place over an entire galaxy.
  4. Your main characters: who is your protagonist? Is he a hero, an anti-hero, a villain, something else? Who is your antagonist? What is his plan and purpose?
  5. Your major supporting characters: who is your protagonist close to? Your antagonist? What major people will help shape the story?
  6. Growth: how will your main characters/world grow over the course of the story? What is the beginning? The middle? The end? Pick out three specific, major events that you want to be the landmarks of your story.

So, I don’t know how many of you love either P&P RPGs or miniature models as much as I do, but I just backed this kickstarter. It looks to have a well-developed world, some great art, a fun system, and the miniatures are just beautiful. Take a look at it, if it looks like you’re kind of thing, back it with me. The basic pledge levels aren’t overly expensive and you can get some cool stuff out of them. That being said, I have a post for you. Anyway, I have a writing exercise for you today, but if anyone wants to chime in with ideas, please do. For today’s exercise I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to use it as inspiration to design one part of the world you’ve started. This could be fleshing out one of the nations that you’ve already come up with or it could be creating an all new nation or continent for your world:

med

Plot Challenge of the Week

I’d forgotten how much I actually enjoy painting miniatures. Recently I’ve been thinking about painting up some miniatures that I’ve had for a while, and that are very nice, high quality sculpts. However, it has been years since I last painted anything. So, I went out and bought some good paints and some cheap Reaper miniatures (which are actually surprisingly high quality given what you actually pay for them) and I’ve been painting them. Thus far I’ve painted up a sarcophagus, a ruined well, an alchemist, and three Chinese soldiers. I have a few more cheap miniatures to paint, and I definitely need the practice, but everything I’ve painted so far has come out better than I actually thought it would. Still, my work is far from being professional quality. Anyway, I have an exercise for you. You’ve done this one a few times. 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?

Plot Challenge of the Week

So, I’ve been teaching a class on leadership in missions, and this happens to be a class full of Pentecostals (literally… there is one student who is not Pentecostal in this class). The class actually shows the range of the Pentecostal church ranging from very literate, well-thought out, reasonable argument to off-the-wall crazy talk (I had one student explain to me that Protestantism and Pentecostalism are different religions, that all Evangelicals are Pentecostals, and that Baptists are a third different religion completely separate from Protestants and Pentecostals). I also find it interesting that the vast majority of the class is Pentecostal since, at the moment, the fastest growing and generally dominant Christian denomination in Latin America, Africa, and Asia is the Pentecostal denomination. That being said, the topic of miraculous gifts, and especially tongues, has come up multiple times throughout the class. The primary scriptures used to support Pentecostal teachings on tongues (and miraculous gifts in general) is 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. I was rereading 1 Corinthians 14 today in my devotions and the thing that struck me about this chapter is how heavily Paul emphasizes order. First, he speaks primarily of prophecy (which he defines as edification, exhortation, and consultation) and he compares it to tongues. Paul’s primary argument in the first half of the passage is that prophecy is superior to tongues because prophecy edifies the body by engaging the spirit and the mind of the church as a whole while tongues engages only the spirit of the individual. Further, in the second half of the chapter Paul then emphasizes that both prophecy and tongues are to be used in the church in an orderly manner. He sets forth specific rules as to how they are to be used, and commands those who cannot obey these rules to remain silent. I find it interesting just how much of the modern Pentecostal church ignores this section of the chapter almost entirely. Anyway, I have a plot challenge for you today. I’m going to give you a picture and I want you to develop a part of your world based on what you see. It should be a setting that is believable in your world, and that has potential for stories in it. Here’s you’re picture:

temple-citadel-arena