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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.

www.BlueFalconPress.com
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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.

King Kynneth

King Kynneth (The Atriian Trilogy #3)5 StarsSpoilers are unavoidable in this review, so if you haven’t read the first two books, read at your own risk!

In the third book of the Atriia series, Kynneth Zeria has declared himself King after the death of his brother Jerrod. He thinks Christa is dead and blames Lor LaRosse for stealing her body. He vows revenge, but in truth, Christa and her two children are alive and living with Hannen in hiding. Dahla is raising the decoy “heir” at Cas Zeria.

Kynneth is beating the drums of war, determined to bring the other Lors under his rule and defeat Lor LaRosse. When he papers the land with propaganda, Christa’s safety is compromised. Hannen orders her to never leave their home. Of course, circumstances intervene, and she is discovered. She may be able to stop a battle, but can she stop an all-out war?

The book offers a calm beginning, following Sam/Hannen and Christine/Christa as they heal and rebuild. Their shared experience on both Earth and Atriia get a lot of play here, with some surprising and heartwarming results. The first two parts of the novel are a great way to get reacquainted with the characters and the unique Atriian dialect—which can be a challenge—so there’s a glossary in the back if you need a refresher. Hannan loves her fiercely, but she struggles with the fact that he is her stepbrother. Even if they are not blood-related, she can’t bring herself to touch him, and if she does give in to her desire, another pregnancy would certainly kill her.

Don’t let the lovely pastoral scenes lull you into a false sense of security. This is the Loper of Zeria and the Foul Fraigen Dropper we’re reading about! Passion, danger, and the madness of King Kynneth are spreading across the land, and Christa—or her legend—is firmly at the center of it all. Powerful men from all sides of the conflict want to use her for their own gain. Some want to kill her, others to use her as bait, or want to lock her away to sate their own lust for power. But Hannen can’t let her go. He stalks her with a single-minded purpose: make her his forever, or die trying.

Christa Clavin again shows her bravery, even as she fights for her life through delirium, rage, and pain. She’s true to her headstrong nature, prone to ignoring advice she doesn’t want to hear while making incredibly risky decisions. Another constant is her sense of responsibility for the people whose very lives depend on her actions.

Fair warning: some of the scenes in this book make the other two books pale in comparison. Some of the horrific situations are pure nightmare fuel; it’s no wonder Christa has so many bad dreams.

The people of Attria think Christa Clavin, the Loper of Zeria is legend come to life, and indeed, her fate may be led by the hand of the divine Sola herself. It’s not hard to imagine her becoming a beloved hero of legend. I think fans of this series will certainly feel the same.

Pages: 569 | ASIN: B01KEMXROY

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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.

The Leader of Lors

The Leader of Lors (Atriian Trilogy, #2)5 Stars

I was pleased to return to the land of Atriia with The Leader of Lors, the second book in the Atriian Trilogy. I recommend you read The Heart of Hannen first, before trying to pick up the complex story and the Atriian language.

Christine Clavin is back in her hometown on Earth. Her daughter Becca, a cherub with blue eyes and her mother’s red hair, is nearly a year old. Christa has reunited with Kyle, who loves Becca even though he is not her father. The night before she is to move in with Kyle, her daughter is kidnapped by Hannen, and she’s dragged back through the fraigen lairs of Black Pond to save her daughter. She is justifiably furious with Hannen and refuses to stay with him. Unable to get back home, she’s forced to remain in Atriia.

In her absence, the legend of Crista Clavin, the Loper of Zeria, has spread throughout the land. Jerrod, the Lor of Cas Zeria, is heartbroken without her. Unable to stand living with Hannen for another day, she and Becca slip away during a day at the market, and Crista’s harrowing adventure begins. Her path leads toward fame as commoners and nobles alike recognize her as their hero. Jerrod wants her for himself, convinced she will bear his heir and will do anything to protect her. Hannen will not give up on her. Others want to use her as a pawn to further their own standing or for their own twisted pleasures. These conflicts become political, and threats of war and unrest are everywhere. But Christa has only one desire that matters: protect her daughter at all costs.

I am happy to say that this book is better than the first. As Christa faces captivity, betrayal, false safety and gilded prisons, she proves time and again that the legends about her are not just “tot’s tales” but very true. Her fiery temper, fierce maternal instinct, and devotion to those she loves carry the plot, and it’s a nail-biting read full of tension and adventure. I had a hard time putting this one down. The characters are vivid, with old friends returning from the past, as well as new characters who bring joy, passion, tragedy, and high drama to the story.

The author’s skill at building a memorable fantasy world is excellent in this installment. A stand-out example of this is when Christa travels the countryside in disguise and uses her legend and notoriety to reward those who help her or intimidate and punish those with bad intentions. It’s a tale straight out of the heroic myths of the past and added so much heart to the story.

Don’t forget that this heroic tale is also a romance. I often found myself ready to throttle Christa for being an idiot, but that’s a compliment because I was that invested in her story. The love scenes are tastefully written, but I would recommend this series for mature readers. Overall, it’s a fast-paced, exciting read. Christa is a heroine with plenty of flaws, and the Atriian Trilogy is a fantasy world you’ll enjoy escaping to.

Pages: 590 | ASIN: B00J3D2CQU

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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.

 

Jesus and Magdalene

Jesus and Magdalene by [Cerqueira, Joao]4 Stars

What would it be like, if more than two-thousand years later Christ walked this earth again? Would he be confused by the spread of technology or would he already know about it from having watched over mankind from above? João Cerqueira tackles this idea and more in his novel Jesus and Magdalene. There is much for Jesus to consider when he returns to the world of man. Such logical concerns as his paternity and the vehicle he decides to use to come back to earth. Scarcely is Jesus walking among men once more then he meets Magdalene. She is the newer version of her biblical-self: wrapped up in an environmental movement with Judas, Mary, Peter, James and others she works towards renewal of the earth. As if it was simply meant to be, Jesus joins her on her mission and we are left to wonder how much of the stories in the bible will play out again.

If there is anything Cerqueira does well in this book, it is describing situations and surroundings. There is an explanation at the beginning of the novel where our author lays out his experience with Christianity and his thoughts on the matter. This is beneficial for those who cherish their faith and may take issue with the idea of a modern-day Jesus Christ. This should come as a comfort to those readers as Cerqueira certainly means no disrespect.

However, while the writing is a plus, it is also a minus. Cerqueira is almost too descriptive or flowery with his language. His metaphors and similes are beautifully written but they cause the story to feel heavy. This, in turn, causes the read to be quite heavy and rely on the intellectual prowess of the reader. While this is not completely a negative for the reader who prefers something a bit more intellectual, for the casual reader this can be a detriment.

The portrayal of technology and the development of character relationships is well played throughout the entirety of the tale. If you have never been an avid reader of the bible or studied any sort of religion while in school, you will not be lost. You can think of Jesus and Magdalene as a tale of two young adults who are trying to make a difference in the world. If you are familiar with these texts, you will find that there is much that overlaps with Cerqueira’s story. It is evident that the man has done his research and is not afraid to use that in his works.

The language that author João Cerqueira uses is beautiful. For a reader looking for something heavier, thought-provoking and requiring footnotes, you cannot go wrong with Jesus and Magdalene.

Pages: 324 | ASIN: B01IS20VQY

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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.

The Heart of Hannen

The Heart of Hannen (Atriian Trilogy, #1)4 Stars

Christine Clavin is not a typical teenage girl. Her past is marred by a violent attack so scandalous that her peers avoid her, whispering behind her back. The only redhead in a family of dark-haired people, she’s certain she was adopted and doesn’t belong. She has no friends, and her rage is so deep that when she loses control, she’s dangerous, even to her own family. Her family is at their wit’s end and wants to have her committed, but her older brother Sam does what he can to protect her. Christine wants to be normal, even dating a dashing newcomer, but the date seems to end badly although she still has feelings for the boy.

Christine finds solace by the pond near her house, something catches her attention, so she dives in, and when she comes up for air, she’s in a completely different world. Struggling with the language, the oppressive culture, and her own nightmares, she must find a way to survive and get back home. Her inner fire becomes her greatest asset, but it could make her either a well-treated slave or a fugitive trying to get back home.

The Heart of Hannen is one of the most unique books I’ve read all year, with elements of dark fantasy and gothic romance that tie together seamlessly. Christine is magically transported to the world of Atriia where men rule, and women are bought and sold like horses. This is definitely not the place for hotheaded seventeen-year-olds with anger management issues to thrive, and she runs afoul of men and women alike. When she’s sold to the staff of a local Lord’s castle, she learns—the hard way—how to fit in.

I especially enjoyed that Christine could use her wits, temper, and sharp tongue to do great things, even under the control of an oppressive culture and evil men. Without spoilers, let me warn you that there are twists and turns that you will never see coming, and they are fantastic.

The best part of this book was the invented language. There’s a glossary at the back of helpful words, but I decided to figure it out myself. This helped me get deeper into the story and the main character, since we were both trying to make sense of words that were just out of reach. As she becomes more used to Atriia, so did I, and the story got even better from there.

My only complaint about the book is that the pacing is slow. The plot advances at a snail’s pace, characters are indecisive, and some scenes—while interesting—do little to advance the story. While some tension is good, drawing it out too long invites skimming to a scene where something actually happens.

If you’re a fan of dark fantasy or romance, you’ll find much to like in The Heart of Hannen. Though the main character begins the tale at age 17, this is a land of kept women, fierce battles, blood, and sensuous love scenes, so I’d recommend it for mature readers.

Pages: 488 | ASIN: B00IWYP17S

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