by Don Templeton
Welcome to Step Two in the Blue Falcon Press plot planning process.
What I’m about to reveal here is something professional screenwriter’s already know backwards and forwards. This diagram was originally brought to the world by the late, great Syd Field. Now here is something novelists need to internalize: this schematic works Jim Dandy as a template for your novel as well as a screenplay. I’ve written EVERY novel of mine using the Paradigm above to map out the major movements and turning points in my plots. EVERY. ONE. This diagram keeps you on target, keeps you focused, and keeps you from writing crap that has no business being in your story.
The first thing to do in figuring out your paradigm is write a sentence which describes how the story is going to END. Then do the same thing for the BEGINNING. In my novels, the beginning is always the INCITING INCIDENT. It is the event that starts all the other story dominoes falling. In Pretty Hate Machine, this is the Sadie Hawkins attack on her school. Next, decide what PP1, PP2, and MP are. Let me explain what a Plot Point is. A plot point is defined as any incident, episode or event that “hooks” into the action and spins it around into another direction. (from Syd Field’s SCREENWRITER’S WORKBOOK) Now notice where your plot points fall: at the end of Act One and at the end of Act Two.
The Mid Point is some kind of incident, episode, or event that occurs in the middle of ACT 2 and breaks ACT 2 into two halves of dramatic action. Act 2 becomes two halves joined together by the Mid-Point. The first half of Act Two now has a target you know – the Mid-Point.. The second half of Act 2 has another target to write towards, everything that happens after the Mid-Point and concludes with Plot Point 2.
Let’s illustrate how this works by examining the Peter Jackson remake of King Kong. I’m not using Pretty Hate Machine to illustrate this because it will ruin the wonderful surprise for readers of the book. I’m not going to spoil that surprise for you. In King Kong, Act 1 ends with Plot Point 1 which in this case is when the expedition reaches Skull Island. The Mid-Point of the story is when King Kong shows up for the first time, taking the girl into the jungle with him. So, the first half of Act 2 shows all the incidents that take place exploring the Island. The second half of Act 2 details the girl’s relationship with Kong and her shipmates attempts to find her and rescue her. Plot Point 2 is when Kong is captured and the ship leaves for New York. See how that works? It makes Act 2 absolutely manageable now. No reason to fear Act 2 anymore.
Let’s discuss briefly the purpose each act serves. Act 1 is known as the Set-Up. It shows your character’s in their normal world before the real meat of the tale kicks in. Plot Point 1 is really where the steam of the story picks up and spins us into The Confrontation which occupies the entire length of Act 2. Act 2 is where you put your heroes in a tree and throw rocks at them. Act 2 ends with Plot Point 2 which spins the story around into another direction, which is the straight down nose dive into the Resolution or Act 3. This is where your heroes regain the initiative and turn the tables on the opposition, smacking them down smartly. Or if you’re into tragedies and such, this is where the heroes are defeated by the opposition. I don’t like those kind of endings so I don’t use them. I believe the good guys will always best the bad guys. That’s how I roll.
Next, impose the length restrictions of the screenplay on your novel. In a screenplay, Act 1 is one-forth the length of your script. For a 90 minute show, that’s roughly 22 and a half pages. Act 2 is half the length of the script or 45 pages. Act 3 is the same length as Act 1. In a novel, you do this by dividing your word count by 4. GREEN MAJIK novels are 100,000 words in length. So Act 1 and 3 are roughly 25,000 words in length; Act 2 is 50,000 words, which is divided into two chunks of 25K by the Mid-Point. Simple Simon.
Here’s your homework assignment. 1st, get Syd Field’s book The Screenwriter’s Workbook. It’ll be the best $16 you’ll ever spend. Next, read Pretty Hate Machine and tell me what Plot Point 1 and 2 are and what the Mid-Point is. Email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you know what you are looking at, these events are easy to spot.
Next, we will talk about planning the most important part of your novel: your characters. See you there.
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Uncle Stubby Gets Married takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together into a fantastic story of kindness and cheer. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a kids book about this subject?
First – wild squirrels. We have them in our backyard and the neighbors do as well. They are truly wild but they also come up to eat nuts and seeds my husband puts out for them, as well as the water. We watch their funny antics and many have names such Stubby due to his short tail, Sparkles because she is a juvie squirrel with a radiant white tummy, Foxy – well she is a mama squirrel and has had litters in two years. Cutter has a tear in his ear, Nibbler has a small tear and a hole in his ear, and so on. Shadow is our daughter’s small dog and one day we thought the squirrels and Shadow would make for a good children’s book. Shadow and the squirrels had just spent Christmas in New York City and Central Park when the idea of Uncle Stubby Gets Married hit us. We love to teach kindness with all the animals in our books, and to have them be friends no matter what the animals were like in the real world. We also figured it was high time Uncle Stubby got married.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
Friendship and kindness are very important and those elements are always added in our children’s book. We teach safety and learning about animals in our books, and we like to have everything colorful and eye catching. Having the animals work together in the wedding illustrates how children can work together in the real world, also.
I felt that the art in the book was well conceived. How did you decide on which images and themes to use?
Theme wise we knew if the wedding was held in a magical fairy forest, that no animal could even remotely get hurt, or preyed upon by hawks and other predators. In keeping with a magical theme it was only proper to use magical animal characters and a magical forest as the setting.
Uncle Stubby Gets Married is book 5 in the Shadow and Friends Series. What is the next book in the series and when will it be available?
Book 6 is a work in progress, and the title is Shadow and Friends Circus Adventures. Not only will the squirrels, Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, be a part of the circus; plans include many different animals and the the acts will also be done in a magical theme. We are planning on releasing in early May, 2017. We also have book 7 as a work in progress and Shadow and her friends will help the town of Ellsworth, Kansas, celebrate it’s 150th birthday August 2017. This will be a fun book, too, with all the old west built in, and it should be available early to mid July, 2017.
“In this children’s picture book, and sixth book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Uncle Stubby Gets Married, a fox squirrel named Uncle Stubby has fallen in love with a girl squirrel named Sparkles. Squirrel family and friends, including a small dog named Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, are invited to attend the wedding in a special Valentine Fairy Forest. Uncle Stubby thinks Sparkles is the most beautiful girl squirrel in the land. Uncle Stubby’s twin, Shorty, flies in from New York City with his family, and Shorty is best man for his brother. Foxy is matron of honor for Sparkles. The Valentine Fairy Forest is truly a magical land, the illustrations show how this dream forest looks, and all the animals are safe in this forest both day and night. Along the way, we meet mouse fairies, and Minister Mouse conducts the wedding. Sparkles’ wears a crown, and Uncle Stubby is dressed in a cummerbund. Various other animals are present, including one unicorn, and the bride and groom spend their wedding night in Walnut Forest, a special part of the Valentine Fairy Forest. Children will love seeing how magical the forest is, with abundant sparkles thrown in for good measure. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-11, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. This story illustrates how beautiful the Valentine Fairy Forest looks, produces pure imagination in children, and the illustrations will fascinate children and adults.”
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by Don Templeton
So you want to tell a tale. What do you do? Just sit down and start writing it from the beginning? Do you even know where to begin?
Well, the first step is a “simple” requirement…or so it would seem.
Your task, O Jedi Scribe, is to write one stinking sentence.
That’s it. One sentence. Now to create that sentence, you’re going to have to boil the entire narrative essence of your Epic Tale down to one sentence which focuses on the line of action and the character (or characters). When you achieve the objective, you will know exactly what it is you are writing and why. They say the hardest thing about writing is knowing what to write. Your finished sentence will brilliantly distill what it is you are writing.
Write a paragraph or pages of notes attacking your idea from every angle. Then take that raw material and slash it down to one perfectly worded sentence. Make mind maps if that helps you “see” your material.
But when you are done, you will have a sentence that tells your story. If you’ve ever read TV Guide descriptions of what a show is about, this is exactly what you are attempting to do. In Hollywood, this is called the logline. In fact, this is exactly what you are doing here – writing a logline that tells the story of your novel.
Now here’s a set of guidelines that are even more specific to the task.
- Your sentence must focus on a protagonist, the goal, and the antagonist or antagonistic force opposing the protagonist.
- Don’t use character names in your sentence; use character types: a cop, a hooker, a rocket scientist. Add a good adjective to add some depth to the character: a burned-out hooker.
- Clearly present the protagonist(s) goal.
- Describe the antagonist or antagonist force which opposes the hero.
- Make it clear that the protagonist(s) are pro-active to the action, not reactive.
- Detail the stakes or ticking time bomb that the characters are working to achieve or beat.
- Don’t just tell your story with your logline, sell it as well. When you write the perfect logline of your novel, you’ll have the best thing to tell people when they find out you’re a writer. Everyone always asks: “What’s your story about?” That’s when you rattle off your logline.
So now we just need a good example of all of the above in action. Here’s my logline for Special Task Force: GREEN MAJIK #1 “Pretty Hate Machine” now available at http://www.bluefalconpress.com:
A maverick detective, a Gonzo journalist, and a has-been porn star fight to expose the federal government’s involvement in the worst schoolyard shooting in history while a super-secret strike unit infiltrates the center of the cyclone, the factory where little girls are turned into suicide juggernauts and unleashed.
Are we on the same sheet of music now? Is it as clear as the water in a Caribbean lagoon? This is Step One in writing a great genre novel. In the next lesson, I’m going to show you how to diagram all the important turning points in your story and structure your idea inside the 3-Act Paradigm or what needs to be in the Beginning, what to do with the Middle (a lot of writers get bogged down here and I will show you how to stay out of the mud) and how to wrap it all up with a satisfying End.
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The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?
Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.
Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.
Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.
This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.
I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.
Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW
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A historical fiction novel by James George, My Father’s Kingdom is centered heavily around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600s. The story is told through the narrative of both native Indian tribes and from English settlers, 50 years after our beloved Thanksgiving holiday occurred. The differences between the two people, especially in religious decisions, is what drives the stress between the alliance. The wordsmanship by George is a beautiful combination of elements and themes, pulling together from the hardships our ancestors faced and the fear that comes with abnormalities and change.
The narrative of this story is told mostly by Linto, Metacomet, and Israel Brewster. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people, and on their personal religious journeys. This plot of the story is comprised of a brewing rebellion after an untimely death nine years prior. Tension is strong between the two people, and fear and talk of war is present early on.
Meanwhile, the characters are on journeys of their own, to find a connection with God. Linto is hungrily trying to understand the Englishmen’s God, and is plagued by the stress. He seeks comfort in his own communion with nature with The Great Spirit. Metacomet is overcome with grief for the loss of his brother, and struggling with the responsibility of leading his tribe down the correct path. His distrust for the Englishmen and the revenge he seeks plays an important role in the evolution of the story, and it feels like you grow right along with the young leader as the tale unfolds.
On the other side of the coin, the English settlement faces troubles of its own, told mostly from the Reverend’s point of view. Israel is also a character who is suffering internally, battling the repercussions to his faith with the loss of his wife. While he does his best to keep his community pure by offering extensive counseling, he also battles with the shaky relationship with the local native tribes.
The consistent theme to the story is that which exploits the importance of peace. Often we forget what truly happened in the history of America, and instead focus on the gracious holiday that was born from the struggles of the first settlers. This story helps serve as a humble reminder of the bloodshed and the turmoil that really occurred.
Everything meshed together beautifully, staying accurate enough to the history of the war that happened while giving a unique and fresh tale to follow. It breathes life into the history we read so blandly, and George does an excellent way of making the scenario relatable and understandable to modern time. The characters are beautifully flawed, and all so different from one another. You feel the pain they feel in their journey, and I was eager to discover the endings that they would come to face. It’s a beautiful picture of American History and the fragile nature of peace and friendship.
Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01MS5OQP8
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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.
“Books bring to life aspects of literary genius.” – Mary Schmidt, author of Uncle Stubby Gets Married.
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Kiss Billie for Me, written by Jeanette Gray is a true story based on the trials and tribulations of William Edward Pedder “Billie”, and a secret that he took to his grave. The story begins in 1929 where his mother, Betty Trainer is embarking on a journey of a lifetime. Headed to Australia, Betty soon finds herself quickly embracing a new life with a husband and new family. However, Betty’s new life full of sunshine is soon hit with a terrible storm as she begins to deal with an alcoholic husband and postnatal depression which ultimately leads to decisions that will affect generations to come.
Kiss Billie for Me is a novel that will touch the hearts and soul of every reader. Based on a true story, Kiss Billie for Me focuses on topics such as mental health, family and the importance of understanding the stigma surrounding postnatal depression. The reader will be able to easily imagine life back in 1929 right up until the present day as the storyteller describes scenes from rickety boats to dancing in bars.
Kiss Billie for Me begins in 1929 with a beautiful young woman. Betty Trainer. Betty embarks on an adventure to seek an exciting new life in Australia and after meeting a charming young man, she begins her own little family. However, the lack of family support and loneliness soon creates a recipe for tragedy as Betty develops postnatal depression after having her first son. The story is an emotional roller coaster but provokes conversations around postnatal depression and the reader will find themselves empathizing with people they least expect.
Even though this story is true, it still has surprise twists and turns that will leave the reader breathless and in shock. The unexpected events that occur will leave your mind reeling and you will have to continually remind yourself that this is a true story. I enjoyed the progression of the character “Billie” as you learn about his life and the people within his family circle. Tragedy seems to be a common denominator within this family however their ability to soldier on and find the beautiful side of life is commendable.
I appreciate Jeanette Gray’s ability to be respectful and honest in the recounts of her family’s history. Postnatal depression affects many women and Kiss Billie for Me shows the importance of providing the right type of care and assistance- as the dire consequences can affect generations to come. At times the themes were quite intense and emotive- especially knowing that this was a true story that someone had personally lived.
I can honestly say I feel like a better person for reading this story. It has made me appreciate my life and put in perspective how important relationships and support is within a family unit. I highly commend Jeanette Gray for sharing her story. As I was reading this novel I began to consider my own family history and the impact of people’s decisions and because of this I would recommend this novel to absolutely everyone!
Pages: 228 | ASIN: B01N7TFFDF
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This God, I, is a novel based around a group of teenagers turned Japanese superheroes as they band together in a battle against evil. Where did the inspiration for the thrilling action come from and how did it develop as you were writing?
I’ve always been a fan of comic books, anime and the action genre, so I’ve had ideas brewing in my head on how to construct a story full of car chases, paranormal battles and science fiction. For the scenes with domestic terrorists, I read about the history of nationalist extremism in the United States, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing, and tried to emulate what I learned. For super-powered fights, I had to come up with creative ways the heroes and villains could use their surroundings.
Japanese anime styled characters cross political extremists which sets the tone for this action packed adventure. What were some ideals you hoped would drive the narrative of the story?
Every character needs a believable motivation, and a political agenda can provide just that. Our cultural backgrounds and political views are a reflection of who we are as people, and I sought to create characters that would embody their various ideals and principles. While the extreme villains use their powers to force their ideas onto the world, the heroes have to be open-minded, consider all sides and work together to come to a reasonable conclusion. It was important for the heroes to put their values above the need to win at all costs, lest they end up just as bad as the people they’re fighting.
The superheroes come from a range of backgrounds and have a varied mix of super powers. How did you balance the characters powers to keep them interesting yet believable?
Every superpower has been thought of before, so it was important that my characters would utilize them in different ways, such as turning a roller coaster into a giant robot or controlling a crowd’s emotions to ignite a protest. It was also essential for every ability to serve a purpose, either to move the plot forward, reveal more information and create an action-packed spectacle.
This God, I is book 2 in the series. Where will book 3 take the characters?
In “The Genocide Gene,” Chikara and her friends travel to Africa to stop two demented brothers from starting a civil war and committing genocide. Along the way, they have to save hundreds of kidnapped schoolgirls and take on merciless rebel groups.
“Japanese superhero Chikara Kaminari has accepted her destiny: to save mankind from powerful political extremists. Joined by her friends, the empathic Renka and the shadow-controlling Gen, Chikara journeys to America to rescue her friend Michiko from the Ayn Rand- obsessed billionaire, Chillingworth.
As they search for their adversaries, Chikara and her friends encounter a murderous cell of homegrown terrorists called RAMPAGE (Revolutionary American Militant Patriots Against Government Enslavement). This militia of neo-nazis, white supremacists and anti-government extremists will stop at nothing to bring down the public sector, and only the three heroes can stop them before their war on the state claims innocent lives.
The future hangs in the balance as Chillingworth lures the world’s most powerful leaders to the United Nations. Using Michiko’s mind-controlling voice, he seeks to lead the Earth into a new era of selfishness and Anarchy. The heroes have to stop him, but the conservative Chikara and the socialist Gen have different definitions of the term “save the world.” While one wants to stop the plot, the other wants to control the politicians his own way. The three must put aside their disagreements and work together before America’s most extreme ideologues tear the world apart.”
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A mysterious box that cannot be opened. A line of witches and the melding of two very distinct spiritual ideals. Throw in the military while all these groups try to fight demons and you’ve got 2pm, On a Black Summer’s Day by IP Spall. An interesting story that takes place in a quite town in America spanning at least a decade while the true main character doesn’t make an appearance until later on. We begin with a normal teacher who is trying to make a few extra dollars from his eclectic collection of ‘junk’. It is Samuel that finds the strange box at a market but it will be his son Chris that opens it all those years after his father’s death. What begins as a drunken gathering unleashes forces beyond human understanding. Shadow creatures pour into the world of man from beyond a void. Their appetite is insatiable and they thirst for human blood.
Spall has a knack for the surprise. What first seems like a simple book about growing up and coming to terms with grief unexpectedly morphs into a supernatural thriller where no one knows who will die next. The surprise demon summoning is just that: a surprise. While we got an idea that magic exists and is relatively accepted in this world, there was no foreshadowing for the battle to come. The surprise works in Spall’s favour as it is executed quickly before the reader or the cast has time to react. This allows the reader to be pulled in and feel as though they are part of the story themselves. A clever tactic for sure.
There are some drawbacks to this book, however. Stylistic and grammatical issues aside, the story appears to take place in the United States of America. This isn’t clarified until a chapter or so into the book but it comes as a surprise. While reading how the characters talk and the description of the town, it feels as though this book takes place in England, perhaps in a small village or hamlet. There are certain phrases and ways in which the characters talk that do not occur in everyday American speech. This is not relegated to a single family, but affects all in the story. This is a bit confusing for the reader. Had the story taken place in England or anywhere else in the United Kingdom it would have seemed natural.
This jarring bit of speech aside, the entire flow of the book seems as if it has been sped up. Time passes in a blink and characters whose point of view we were reading from on one page are dead on the next. It fragments otherwise good storytelling and detracts from the overall tale as a whole. A massive battle occurs and then the story is just over.
Those who delight in reading about magic, the macabre and the quintessential fight between light and dark are sure to enjoy IP Spall’s book 2pm, On a Black Summer’s Day.
Pages: 139 | ASIN: B01MXPZ9TW
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Set against the backdrop of one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, A Tangled Web by ML Sparrow tells a tale of teenage angst and romance. A girl abandoned by her parents and twin brothers wrapped up in their emotions weave this tale of romance, betrayal and heartache. Hayashi Taiyo has lived with her grandmother since the death of her mother. She has grown up with twins Kita Ryuu and Kairi in the quiet little town they live in. Things start off soft and slow as we learn about their everyday lives. As with most teenagers, growing emotions and endless confusion seek to disrupt the delicate balance between the three. Two brothers who are as opposite as fire and ice and the girl caught between them. However a tsunami is coming and it will upend their lives in ways they couldn’t imagine.
This novella is just the right length. The relationships between the three who are caught up in the love triangle are delicately portrayed. There is just enough backstory to understand the past of the characters and their mindsets without feeling as though something is missing. The risk a lot of novella’s run is that there is not enough explanation. Sparrow crafts the tale in such a way that the small page count doesn’t detract from the story itself.
By using the romaji forms of several Japanese words in the story the reader can feel much more like they are experiencing every day life in Japan. There is a handy glossary at the back of the book but the sentences they are used in and the way Sparrow writes makes it easy to understand what the words are meant to mean. This saves the reader from having to flip to the end of the novella while reading.
The tsunami in Japan in March of 2011 was devastating. A force of nature that could not be stopped devoured lives and homes without regard. Sparrow indicates at the beginning of the novella which books they read to better understand what happened. By listing them out it allows the reader to continue investigating the event on their own time. This novella is a work of fiction and whether or not Taiyo and her twin friends Ryuu and Kairi actually exist is unknown. What is true is that there are people who lived through the tsunami just like our three protagonists did.
A Tangled Web because is a story about three young people who are trying to navigate the transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s a delicate journey and the severity of the tsunami serves to illuminate the fact that life will go on. The tsunami is like the tumultuous relationship between the three. It attempts to tear them apart, to drown them, and it will change them forever. It’s a lovely read for those who are interested in a coming of age story with a touch of reality.
Pages: 89 | ASIN: B01MRU67AN
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