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How To Plot A Novel Like A Well-Timed Mechanical Ambush (Part Four)

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by Don Templeton

Here we are in the final stretch. Once you’ve done all your character work, you’ve got a lot of story synopses that tell the whole story from each character’s piece of the story. Now we roll it up into one blueprint, the 4-page treatment.

First, take you logline in step one and expand that into a paragraph made up of 5 and ONLY 5 sentences.

  1. Sentence one should cover your BEGINNING or the Inciting Incident as I refer to it.
  2. Sentence two will cover Act 1 to the first Plot Point.
  3. Sentence three covers Act 2 to the Mid-Point.
  4. Sentence four covers Act 2 after the Mid-Point to the second Plot Point.
  5. Sentence five covers Act 3, your climax.

Next, take your paragraph of five sentences and expand that into a clean one-page treatment. Expand your five sentences into five separate paragraphs. Each paragraph will describe exactly the same territory as each sentence did above. Therefore:

  1. Paragraph one covers the BEGINNING.
  2. Paragraph two fleshes out Act 1 to PP1.
  3. Paragraph three details Act 2 to the Mid-Point.
  4. Paragraph four covers the rest of Act 2 up to PP2.
  5. Paragraph five will detail Act 3 completely to the END.

What comes next is what Syd Field calls the “kick in the ass” assignment: the four page treatment. Note that this procedure is pretty much the same in both the Snowflake Method and in Syd Fields’ Screenwriter’s Workbook. Here’s how we break it out:

  1. Page one will cover all of Act 1.
  2. Page two will cover Act 2 up to the Mid-Point.
  3. Page three covers the second half of Act 2.
  4. Page four covers all of Act 3.

Notice that we’ve written this four page treatment according to the same space requirements we’ve described in step 2 by dividing your total word count into 4 equal chunks. Act 1 and 3 occupy one-fourth of the total length of the story and Act 2 is one half of the total. Work on this until you have a perfect four page treatment. Single space or double space? I single space it to get more info per page and can fit in all the character story lines into the final document.

The Snowflake Method gives you two extra steps in that you write up a complete scene list chapter by chapter and Syd Field does the same thing but uses index cards to make the scene list, one card for each scene.

I don’t do the scene lists. Once I have a tight four page treatment, I stop planning there and start the actual writing of the novel. For me, the four page treatment is all I need. At this point, I know EXACTLY what I’m writing. So I start writing.

Here’s why I don’t do scene lists: once I start writing, the characters will come to life and will ALWAYS take over the story with stuff you could have never seen coming in the planning stage. This is where the magic happens. In fact, what actually happens in Pretty Hate Machine is a perfect example. What happens in the novel as it reads today IS NOT what I thought was going to happen from the Mid-point on. What happens in the novel is solely the result of the characters taking over and showing me a much better series of events than I could have ever cooked up at the macro level of planning. It’s that great surprise I’ve eluded to but haven’t ruined with a spoiler. The first thing to go out the window for me is that scene list. It always changes for me once the characters take over driving the bus. So why waste time writing something that’s almost always going to change? The four page treatment is all the blueprint I need to start writing confidently.

Give your characters the freedom to come to life. Otherwise, you will run the risk of turning the characters into marionettes that are just moving around the story because the plot says they have to do this, whether they want to do that or not. Let them live, O Jedi Scribe!

They say there are two kinds of novelists: planners and pantsers (flying by the seat of your pants). Pantsers just start writing with little or no prior planning, thinking that by just writing, at some point, the characters will reveal the plot and the story will write itself. For the beginner, this is dangerous. You will probably write a lot of junk that has no business being in the story and you could end up in a dead end – not knowing what the hell to do next. I’m three-quarters planner and one quarter pantser. I only let the pantser come into play AFTER I know exactly what it is I’m writing, knowing in advance what the targets are I’m moving towards.

Only write scenes that either move the story forward or reveal something essential about character or necessary exposition like backstory. If the material doesn’t do one of those two things, CUT IT OUT. Ruthlessly. I don’t care how much you like it. If you’re not moving the story relentlessly forward, then it doesn’t belong. Literary-type writers often times lose their minds when confronted with advice like this. We’re not literary writers. We’re genre writers which means, ultimately, we’re writing to be read, by as many readers as we can attract. Literary writers seem to hold us genre writers up in something less than contempt. I feel the same way about them as they do about me.

The formula I’ve revealed here will work for ANY genre tale you want to tell. It’s not just for action-horror novels like I write. It works for any story that follows the eternal hardwired blueprint we call the 3-Act Structure. Deviate from this timeless structure at your own risk.

We’re done here. I hope you’ve gotten something out of this. Now go write your Great American Genre Novel. And when you do, let me know how this has worked out for you. I’d like to know.

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Monster Literary Book Awards April 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail (The Water Kingdom Book 1) by [Breaux, Kevin James]The Seventh Sentinel (Revised) (The Sentinel Book 1) by [Ramos, Yolanda]Our Eternal Curse: Another Tribe by [Rumney, Simon]

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]

Outpost (The Fylking Book 1) by [McKinstry, F.T.]The Tenth Nail by [Griffeth, Kwen]

Vampires: Don't You Just Hate Them? by [Estes, Danny C]Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent by [Tinoco, Sergio]King Kynneth: Book III in The Atriian Trilogy by [Bonning, Fawn]

The Genocide Gene (The Onryo Saga Book 3) by [Ryg,Rocco]EXIT FIVE FROM CHARING CROSS by [Keogh, Valerie]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

A Tangled Web by [Sparrow, M L]

Nickerbacher by [Barto, Terry John]Defiance on Indian Creek (Dangerous Loyalties Book 1) by [Still, Phyllis A.]The Taming of Adam: Part 2: The Hunter's Sign by [Hubbard, Jason]

Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Monster Literary Book Awards March 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

This God, I (The Onryo Saga Book 2) by [Ryg, Rocco]Witch Heart: Leadership always requires sacrifice (Gray Girl Book 3) by [Spieth, Susan I., Spieth, Susan]

The Lifeblood of Ill-fated Women (The Blood, Sun, and Moon. Book 1) by [Breaux, Kevin James]The Leader of Lors: Book II in The Atriian Trilogy by [Bonning, Fawn]

The Sightseers Agency (The Dreadnought Collective Book 5) by [tumbler, terry]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Fractured (Lisen of Solsta Book 1) by [St. Martin, D. Hart]The Husband Who Refused to Die by [Darby, Andrea]

The Bug Boys by [Hoffman, Stewart]The Status Update by [Buck, Sonia J.]

The Wanderer's Last Journey (The Orfeo Saga Book 4) by [Eiland Jr., Murray Lee]Uncle Stubby Gets Married (Shadow and Friends Series Book Five 5) by [Jackson, S., Raymond, A., Schmidt, M.]

“Books bring to life aspects of literary genius.” – Mary Schmidt, author of Uncle Stubby Gets Married.

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Monster Literary Book Awards: February 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

The Time Slipsters (The Dreadnought Collective Book 3) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 "Pretty Hate Machine": The Reader Feedback Dooms Day Edition by [Templeton, Don]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The TVC Project by [Bridges, Tom]
The Nightmare From World's End by [Stava, Robert J.]Coffin Dodgers: A Sci Fi Horror Book by [Adams, Tom G.H.]

“Books are the linchpin of my existence. My earliest childhood memories revolve around the magic of reading, of being transported through time and space via a vivid story. Since I was old enough to know what a book was, I knew I was destined to write books as well.” – Don Templeton, author of Pretty Hate Machine

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Monster Literary Book Awards: January 2017

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

Recusant (The Brin Archives Book 2) by [Cronin, Jim]In His Way by [Duvall, Rebecca]

Stealing Magic (The Legacy of Androva Book 1) by [Vick, Alex C]The Inlooker: Full Length (The Dreadnought Collective Book 2) by [Tumbler, Terry]

Oliver and Jumpy - the Cat Series, Stories 10-12, Book 4: Bedtime stories for children in illustrated picture book with short stories for early readers. (Oliver and Jumpy, the cat Series) by [Stejskal, Werner]

REN: Awakened by [Brittany Quagan]Seed Me by [Lavery, Konn]Master Athina (The Books of Athina Book 4) by [Estes, Danny]

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga Book 3) by [Eiland Jr., Murray Lee]

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

The Onryo by Rocco Ryg

Slippery Things by Lane Baker

The Great Scourge by C.A. MacLean

The Heart of Hannen by Fawn Bonning

Jesus and Magdalene by João Cerqueira

The Crown Princess Voyage by Dylan Madeley

 

“Books give me the freedom to step outside of myself. That words alone can transport the reader to a reality as believable as the one he or she actually lives in, should not logically be possible. It’s a kind of real life magic.” – Alex C. Vick, author of Stealing Magic

 

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

 

Hungry Monster Book Awards: November 2016

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winner

Bean Takes a Walk by Ann Bevans & Matthew Ethan Gray

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Mother Athina by Danny Estes

Game Over by Derek Eddington

Beyond Cloud Nine by Greg Spry

The Second Sphere by Peter Banks

Seed of Treachery by C.A. MacLean

Wolves Among Sheep by Steven Pajak

Chaste: A Tale From Perilisc by Jesse Teller

The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana by Katlynn Brooke

“When I look at a book, I see the history of books, old tomes with sacred knowledge. The authorities that controlled the books controlled the people. Books brought the old world to order. My books are how I bring my life and my thoughts to order, the only lasting way I can see to impart wisdom and ask questions.” – Jesse Teller author of Chaste

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see award information and see all award winners.

Hungry Monster Book Awards: October 2016

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are given to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by [Hart, Ken]

The Eyes Behold Tomorrow by Ken Hart

Sir Princess Petra’s Mission by Diane Mae Robinson

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Hegira by Jim Cronin

Lady Athina by Danny Estes

Pearl of the Seas by Ruth Finnegan

Schackled Scribes by Lars Teeney

Plain Brown Wrapper by Greg Lynch

The Mansion’s Family by Rose Channing

Soul Searcher: The Reckoning by Stephen S. Arend

Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see more information on the awards. See all award winners.

And The Story Was Born

Jim  Cronin Author Interview

Jim Cronin Author Interview

Hegira is beautifully written and addresses a subject that is rarely discussed. Why did you want to write about subjects such as cloning and cryogenics?

I have always been a science geek so all aspects of science fascinates me. After I retired I started thinking about writing a science fiction story and the idea of time travel struck me as something fun to write about. To give a plausible reason for the time travel adventure, and a method for supposedly rescuing an entire planet’s population, I came up with cloning and cryogenically freezing the embryos as the strategy for my main character to save everyone. From there, everything else fell into place and the story was born.

I felt this story was very well written. What’s your experience as a writer?

Hegira is my debut novel. My only previous writing has been for education journals. I had no idea what I was getting into, or how difficult writing could be. I have learned a great deal along the way and am enjoying the new learning experience.

The characters in Hegira are very complex. What is your process for creating such in depth characters?

I have always enjoyed reading stories where the characters, not the technology, are center stage. I wanted my novel to do the same and present my universe with believable inhabitants. To do this, I try to put myself into each character’s mind and experience what they see, feel and do. From there, I use my experience as a teacher who has worked with thousands of students over the years, to imagine how each individual would react to the circumstances they find themselves in. The weird part of this was that when I really got into the heads of my characters, they told me how they would react and what they would do. Any time I tried to force my own ideas, the writing stalled. When I gave myself over to the character, the words flowed smoothly.

What is the next book that you are working on and when can your fans expect it to be out?

I have just released book 2 of The Brin Archives: Recusant. It is now available on Amazon.com and is already earning great reviews. Currently, I am writing the final book of the series, tentatively titled Empyrean. This book takes up the story not long after Recusant ends and we learn the Skae, the alien beings who played a large role in Hegira, may not be who they claim to be after all. The Brin have reason to believe they may be on the wrong side of an interplanetary war and need to learn the truth of what is going on. To do this, they will be time traveling and secretly spying on both alien races involved in the galactic war to see which side is at fault. I hope to release this novel sometime next summer.

Author Links: GoodReads

Hegira (The Brin Archives #1)His home world is dead; the victim of a supernova, but this does not stop Karm from attempting to save the Brin, his extinct species. Rescued by an alien race from a derelict spacecraft as a vial of DNA, then cloned, Karm must travel back in time, convince a small team of co-conspirators to join him in his quest, and outmaneuver a power hungry monarch and his fanatic brother, leader of The Faith, both absolutely committed to opposing him. All of Karm’s plans rest on the untested and controversial cloning theories of the young geneticist Dr. Jontar Rocker, and the abilities of his bodyguard, personal assistant, and surrogate niece, Maripa. Will their combined efforts be enough to overcome the power of the monarchy and the planet’s most influential religion? Will Karm’s secrets destroy the trust of his companions and ruin his campaign to save the Brin?

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Hungry Monster Book Awards: September 2016

The Hungry Monster Book Awards are given to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.

Gold Book AwardGold Award Winners

25 Perfect Days Plus 5 More by Mark Tullius

Legends of Perilisc by Jesse Teller

The Dragons of Alsace Farm by Laurie Lewis

Silver Book AwardSilver Award Winners

Spikes by Kelvin Kettle

Paralian by Liam Klenk

Lord Athina by Danny Estes

The Hobbymen by Tim Owens

Voodoo Child by William Burke

Thawing AC Nielsen by Paul Carey

Call of the Conjurer by Ryan Grimbly

Deadly Troubadour by Brent Thomas

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Donald Kirch

Paroxysm Effect by Ashleigh Reynolds

American Flowers by Michael McLellan

The Scalian Legacy by Norbert Monfort

The Mansions Twins by Rose Channing

Dominion of the Star by Angelica Clyman

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani

Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.

Visit the Hungry Monster Book Awards page to see more information on the awards. See all award winners.

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