Ready to have more fun? This week I’m sharing an excerpt from a blog a friend of mine wrote. She’s a talented artist and her heart is to help people discover their creativity. Here’s why I’m sharing this with you; she blogged about creating a personal (or group) flag. I thought, seeing as most of you are writers of fantasy like me, you’d love knowing how to add that creative element to your books. You could even create a flag for your fantasy world and use it on your book cover.
On her blog, Ann-Margret digs deeper and gives you links to resource further. Cool, huh? Here’s part of her blog post:
Saturday, March 24, 2018
“This activity is perfect for a family, youth group, classroom or any themed club. It would make a great ice breaker for a big event, too.
I want you to imagine that you (or your group) are a country. What would your flag look like?
There are endless ways to design a flag because you have these options to consider:
Shape (most flags are rectangular but there are a few exceptions)
Do you know the personalities of these people who live in your head?
Have you spent enough time with them to know how they’d feel about what’s going on in their story?
Would their reactions to certain events or a flippant statement lead to a fight scene?
If they saw a mouse in the kitchen would they scream and jump up on the couch?
How to get to know your characters
Knowing your characters well enough to be able to use their personality traits to your advantage as you write your novel will make the writing flow easier and create logical and organic story arcs.
For example, who is your protagonist likely to befriend?
Who may hate your protagonist?
What drives your protagonist’s passion?
What may drive a particular character crazy?
How would your antagonist behave in an argument?
As I study the next steps in writing my novel, I realize I can’t answer some of the questions I need to ask to plot my story. The reason being, I don’t know what my character would do in any given situation. So, I need to take the time to get to know who these people are and what their responses would be to the events I want in my story. I need to be able to walk through this story with my characters and see, hear, touch, smell and taste what they experience and how they respond to the circumstances I set before them.
We need to take time to get to know everyone in our story. It’s fascinating and fruitful. Once we know our main characters well we’ll be better able to write an accurate and believable story. It may come in handy with a few of those friends who’re giving us a hard time. If we understand people better we may just be able to get along better.
A Beginning – The comfort zone of the protagonist and the inevitable separation
A Middle – Resistance of the oncoming event and the struggles moving forward
An End – The hero’s transformation and return to a new normal
Use whatever method you’ve discovered works for you as you collect your ideas for your epic fantasy story; sticky notes, mobile device, notebook, dry-erase board, whatever. Use something you can manipulate. You’re going to want to move things around when you realize a particular scene needs to switch from the beginning to the middle, for example.
For this reason, I like to colour-code the scenes once I figure out where they belong. Highlighting them makes it easier to spot them in the array of my imagination on the screen. Then write, write, write!
Every scene that’s been playing around in your head and kept you awake all night or distracted you during a sermon (it’s ok, it was God who gave you your imagination so He’ll forgive you if it veers you off once in a while). Then put them under the headings Beginning, Middle and End, or if you prefer, Act 1, Act 2 and Act 3.
Once that’s done, rearrange your scenes in the order you think they need to happen.
Remember you’re only writing what’s going to happen in your scenes, not the entire scene right now. This is extremely important if you’re using these blogs to prep for NaNoWriMo where you’ll need to write 50,000 words in 30 days. These blogs are about outlining (preparation) before you actually start the writing process.
The Beginning – Act 1
Begin at the beginning. Sounds like a good idea – very logical. The beginning is where all the groundwork for your story belongs. Here too, you introduce your reader to the when and where of your story. So here is where you put your world-mapping and world-building ideas and make them into scenes (something happening at the time and place in the world you’re describing). Write one or two sentences about what your scene will be.
The Status Quo
Introduce your main protagonist (hero) in their normal everyday life and the world they live in. (In LOTR, Frodo is a Hobbit who lives in a small house in a shire. He loves life and he likes people).
The event that calls the hero to act on something and leave their status quo. (His uncle vanishes and leaves Frodo a magical ring).
They embark on a journey, either physically or emotionally. Usually, in fantasy, it’s a journey away from home. (In LOTR, Frodo sets out on his adventure).
Your hero rejects the quest at first either from fear, hesitation or pride. (Frodo is reluctant to leave his comfortable life).
Your hero will need a mentor, someone who has experience and wisdom which will prove vital to the hero on their journey. Introduce the mentor here. (Gandalf is Frodo’s mentor as he leads him on the adventure).
The mentor will aid the hero through some sort of transformation.
Acceptance and Action
Introduce minor characters but introduce one at a time to give your reader a chance to familiarize themselves with everyone in the story. (In LOTR, we’re introduced to Sam, Pippin and Merry).
Their journey begins.
“Don’t do a lot of world-building before you start writing. Do just enough to get the basics clear in your mind, then let the characters reveal things to you as you work”. – J. Anderson Coats, author of The Wicked and the Just.
The Middle – Act 2 Trials, Tribulations, Friends and Foes
The Edge of the Abyss
Your hero will encounter all of the above; characters who will help your hero or hinder their quest. There will be tests to determine who is a friend and who is a foe. (Orcs, a stranger who becomes a good friend and ally, dark riders on horseback).
Your hero will need to decide if they will carry on with the quest, turn back, or run. There is a crisis. (Frodo has a crisis of courage, feeling that he cannot go on).
“Write short, sharp, heart-clutching scenes that propel your characters through conflict, adventure and resolution. Let your characters guide you”.– Elizabeth Sims, Novelist, Writing Coach and Editor.
The End – Act 3 The Climax and The New Normal
Your hero faces their biggest test/fear in a confrontation with death or another big event. (Frodo knows he needs to destroy the ring but it beckons him, and he shows his weakness).
The Resolution and Reward
Your hero earns the prize and journeys home or on to a new normal. (Frodo goes back to the Shire, but his life will never be the same).
Rearrange your scenes until you’re satisfied with the order they’re in so the story outline starts to make sense to you. Fill in the Middle with several action-packed scene ideas. As always, learn from the masters by reading fantasy and watching fantasy movies. Keep a notepad handy and try to draw out of the story all the points in this blog.
How is your novel organizing coming along? Would a novel planner help? After I wrote my first rough draft of my first novel for NaNoWriMo I created a planner along with my super talented graphic designer, Kirstie Shanks. It’s now available on Amazon. It’s also available as a printable version in my White Rose WritersEtsy shop. (White Rose Writers – The Business Of Being An Author is my source of income).
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.
Researching this week, I discovered we need to go back to our premise and plot twists to see if we can now add more interesting content to the ideas we wrote. What can you glean from the premise you’ve written?
5 Epic Moments That Will Define Your Story Outline
Can you think of five major events that will occur in your novel? Can you think of five ways to add your plot twists to each of those events? When adding your plot twists, think about how these will affect the story:
How will this affect the protagonist?
Will you need to add backstory for your protagonist to show this effect?
Who else will be affected by this plot twist?
Is this a good place to add conflict? If so, between which characters?
Will this interfere with your protagonist getting what they want? How?
Will it cause a disaster for your protagonist?
Does your world-mapping need more of a fantasy backdrop for your plot twist to be epic?
Do this exercise for all your major events and you’ll have a good outline started. Try to write a rough scene for each one to revise later. If you hit a wall don’t give up. Read a book in the same genre, or brainstorm with your writing group, then just start writing and ‘pants‘ for a while. Letting the juices flow freely may stir a firework display of creativity.
If you don’t have any scenes spinning in your head yet, watch a TV show in the same genre as your novel. This works great for me. I’m glad I have a pause button so I can write notes as I watch. You can also find some great visual writing prompts on my Pinterest board. Later, you’ll keep what fits and file the other ideas for another time or maybe another novel.
Here’s a prompt to get you started. What do you see in this picture? A peaceful sunset at the beach, an approaching storm, or perhaps a scary scene from The Walking Dead with a horde of zombies approaching?
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who made you in His image.