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king007

Lounge

902 posts in this topic

I have some Excel worksheets for outlining and timelines, but don't use them often because I just don't "get" Excel. I mean, I get it, I know that if I took some courses or watched some videos on it I could be an expert-level user, but it's just so dry and technical, and there are so many buttons and menus, and I've adamantly refused to use it for so long because I'm not a secretary, darn it, that I've never quite gotten the hang of using it. Plus, it's not pretty. We artists like things to be pretty. :P

 

 

Seriously dude, we were separated at birth. No, wait, it's just the engineers' hive mind at work...

Yeah, I have [a] my outline Word doc with all info; my Novel - a single Word file; and [c] an Excel sheet that I try to make as complicated as possible because I'm an enginer.

As for injections of randomosity, pah to this new-fangled stuff, dice of finest plastic and a D&D encounter table.

 

 

"Dry and technical"  yes, that's the engineer part!  I have actually made some quite pretty (and complex) spreadsheets in my time.  I honestly wonder if I could write a story in Excel.  Such pretty tables...

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I honestly wonder if I could write a story in Excel.  Such pretty tables...

 

Yes, yes!! You could calculate a 'things getting worse' ratio and a plot graphs of character arc (sigh).

Edited by Robinski
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Yes, yes!! You could calculate a 'things getting worse' ratio and a plot graphs of character arc (sigh).

 

Totally.  This reminded me of one of Dan's lectures during the WX Cruise last September on the Hollywood Formula and how rigid it is (my notes, with descriptions from popular movies, so, I guess, spoilers for Jaws, Star Wars,LotR, and ancient literature?):

 

Hollywood Formula: Common in screenwriting.  Good because it's concise and compressed.

Percentages are not exact, but are very close.  % = page # = minutes in movie

1% Opening scene - Establish the hook/premise, Some establishing chars

2-9% Setting the story - Who chars are, why do we love them?

10% Inciting Incident - Put the char in an uncomfortable position, forced out of comfort zone

11-24% Surviving the Change  - What can you do in this new position?  How to move on? Try many plans that don't work.  Need to see failure to make the payoff more satisfying.  Make Chimera big enough that Bellerophon seems mighty.

25% Big Decision - Where the char decides to do something big.  If not for this, don't have a movie.

26-49% Exploring the New World - The section of the movie that all the trailers come from.  People doing cool fun/action things.

50% Midpoint - The moment where the heroes move from reaction to action. (Decide to rescue princes Leia).

51-74% Return of the Villain - Whoever caused the problem comes back with a vengeance.  Leads to All is Lost moment. 

75% All is Lost - Ben Kenobi / Gandalf gets killed.  Loss of a mentor, friend, char or power or ability that has been relied on through the story.  

76-84% Licking Wounds - Dig the pit as deep as can make it. Empire is going to blow up a planet

85% Aha! Moment - Blow up jaws with a gas tank.  Find the flaw in the Death star. Father, there is still good in you.

86-100% The Final Push - Do the thing because they're awesome. 

Edited by Mandamon
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Thanks for sharing your notes, Mandamon!

 

I'm going over my outline, and the Hollywood approach would likely fix the majority of my pacing problems. After discussing the first chapter with the group, I see now that my timeline is hosed... It's sprawled all to heck, which I recognize brings the entire thing to a standstill before it ever really takes off. With that in mind, I don't think any of you would be very happy with Chapter 2, which is why I'll refrain from posting more until I can get the outline in better shape, and make edits to the text. Like I mentioned before, I originally had two distinct story arcs, and thus split this up into two books, but now my goal is getting this thing condensed into a single book, if possible.

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Keep in mind this is just one type of formatting!  It's a good one, but there are several more.  So certainly don't mess up your whole story just because this demands it.  It's a good format to follow, but it doesn't have to be exact.

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As a follow-up to Mandamon's last point - Also keep in mind that it's a great formula for keeping people interested when you need them to sit their butt down in a dark room with nothing but popcorn for 90-150 minutes, but it isn't what's best for all books.

Your book can be good without being shoehorned into this format.

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Sorry. I'm admittedly a little flaily about the structure at the moment, and having a hard time finding a box that fits the story I'm telling. I can't determine if that's a "me" problem, or a problem with the story itself.

Edited by Marci
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Sorry. I'm admittedly a little flaily about the structure at the moment, and having a hard time finding a box that fits the story I'm telling. I can't determine if that's a "me" problem, or a problem with the story itself.

 

I'm really keen to read more of the story (I know, I'm so fickle). I'm wondering how much you have written, and if you've got more, suggest submitting it and getting comments while your critics are 'in the zone', rather than undertaking wholesale changes. Just my humble opinion, but it's free so you're welcome to it.

 

:)

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I agree with Robinski, if you've got more of the story I also suggest you keep posting it to the group rather than going back now to change everything. That way you'll know for sure which things worked or did not work for others, rather than having to guess at them. If you start reworking things now you may 'fix' the wrong things.

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I'm super freaking apprehensive at this point, but will continue. Thanks so much for the encouragement and feedback.

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I'm super freaking apprehensive at this point

 

I think that that's a perfectly normal writerly state. It's like a twelve-step program where nine of the steps are "panic" or "worry" or "tearful gibbering".

 

On an unrelated note - I CAN BREATHE!

I've been sick for the better part of two weeks and getting nothing done that doesn't involve sleeping or emptying boxes of Kleenex. Hopefully March will see me get through the things I wanted to get done in February.

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I think that that's a perfectly normal writerly state. It's like a twelve-step program where nine of the steps are "panic" or "worry" or "tearful gibbering".

 

 

UGH. Indeed. The story I'm sharing with the group is particularly near and dear to my heart, which heightens my anxiety.

 

 

On an unrelated note - I CAN BREATHE!

 

Woooooo! Congrats! Breathing is fun. Good luck on GTD! :D

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Well, I sat down with one of my trusted beta readers this morning and had a good, long conversation about Broken Universe. Between her feedback, and the feedback this group has kindly offered thus far, I have a better idea of what needs to happen. 

 

I've already admitted the gap in time between the opening scene and the last two submissions had been giving me heartburn. If I have a problem, and my readers have the same exact problem, then, you know, there's a problem. I had gotten completely hung up on the timeline, because I "needed" things to happen at certain (hugely disparate) times of year. In hindsight, I'm not sure why I was so stubborn about keeping it the way it currently stands. I think I was simply impatient to keep the story moving. Now I have 80K words hanging over my head, and I kind of dread making the needed repairs, because there are OMG SO MANY.

 

With that being said, I'm holding off on posting more of this particular story until I've at least sat down and formed a plan of attack. To be honest, this project is sprawling and ambitious (for me, anyway), and requires a finesse I currently lack. As I told my friend, I'm good at the conceptual, but not all that great at the execution. I have a lot to learn about storytelling.

 

I'll still be around, participating. A few of you have posts I've been meaning to catch up with. :)

 

Thanks to each of you for your feedback and encouragement!!

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The story thus far, in my friend's words: 

 

 

I'm so glad you're not married to the time skip because, yeah, I think that's where a lot of your issues are coming from. Sure, chapter one is full of magic and ghosts and psychosis, aaaaand then we completely ignore most of that to detour into Rednecks With Problems for awhile; it feels flat.

 

And y'all said the exact same thing. :D

 

Sigh. /o\

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The story thus far, in my friend's words: 

 

"Sure, chapter one is full of magic and ghosts and psychosis, aaaaand then we completely ignore most of that to detour into Rednecks With Problems for awhile; it feels flat."

 

And y'all said the exact same thing. :D

 

Sigh. /o\

 

I would take issue with the closing comment. Whatever it is, for me at least, it does not feel flat. I think your story has a sort of manic energy coming from Baxter, or more likely from the Baxter / Kim relationship, that makes it eminently readable, and I'm going to miss it after I read Chapters 4 and 5, so hurry back! (In your own time of course, no pressure.)

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With that being said, I'm holding off on posting more of this particular story until I've at least sat down and formed a plan of attack. To be honest, this project is sprawling and ambitious (for me, anyway), and requires a finesse I currently lack. As I told my friend, I'm good at the conceptual, but not all that great at the execution. I have a lot to learn about storytelling.

Since we're already past the strange time skip, are there any other problems, or can we critique while assuming you've corrected the timing?  I'm still interested to read a few more chapters and get father into the story.  You may get some different feedback that might help your overall assessment of the story.  As Robinski says, the story definitely isn't flat.  My problem is more the balance between the romance story and the magical story.

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Thanks for the support, guys. Let me stew a bit. On a more personal note, I lost my grandfather and will be going out of town in a couple days to pay my respects, so it might be a couple weeks before I feel up to a new submission. Take care. :)

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Thanks for the support, guys. Let me stew a bit. On a more personal note, I lost my grandfather and will be going out of town in a couple days to pay my respects, so it might be a couple weeks before I feel up to a new submission. Take care. :)

Sorry to hear that.  Take your time.

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Thanks for the support, guys. Let me stew a bit. On a more personal note, I lost my grandfather and will be going out of town in a couple days to pay my respects, so it might be a couple weeks before I feel up to a new submission. Take care. :)

Ah jeez, that's sad to hear. Whatever you get from this, don't ever let it be pressure. We'll welcome you back whenever you're ready.

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Hello guys, I found an interesting writing prompt in the WX website: "Somebody wrote a novel about an alien invasion. One year later the aliens invade exactly per the details in the novel."

I quite liked it so I expanded on it a bit and had an idea for a novel. I thought I might share it with you guys and see what you think:

 

A military officer finds early indications of an upcoming alien invasion as described in a sci-fi novel but the novel is incomplete. He’s convinced that danger is imminent and goes to warn the higher-ups about the issue. They ignore his warnings and he becomes the laughingstock of the army. He takes it upon himself to investigate what’s happening and prevent the invasion. He looks for the author of the novel but he only finds his daughter. It turns out that the author has been absent for a while now. They both search for him in hope that he has the key to save humanity. Along the way, they encounter many hardships that will bring them together and unravel a few mysteries.

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I quite liked it so I expanded on it a bit and had an idea for a novel. I thought I might share it with you guys and see what you think:

 

Your idea sounds very good for a starting point. I thought of a similar idea, but I was leaning towards making it lean more towards the horror and hard science-fiction side of things and I didn't feel like I had the skills to pull it off, so it's sitting in a trunk :)

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There's a James Coburn (I think) film centred on Chinese plot to build a tunnel under the pacific and invade America. That was my first thought. I remember the prompt. I'm still catching up with WX, I'm halfway through Season 9 at present, so it's more recent for me!

 

The idea's fine. All in the execution. My first thoughts are (1) What makes him think he can save humanity, that seems like a big ask, and (2) Why should the author be able to save humanity, just because he wrote the book? Seems clear to me that he needs some other major skill set to save the day.

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The idea seems a bit generic to me, but it can be very appealing if the characters are well written and the execution is top-notch.

Well, the MC is a military officer so he should have the set of skills required to investigate and fight on his own, and since he's military he should feel a moral obligation to save his country and therefore the world.

As for the novel, I'm thinking it shouldn't be well known but rather buried on some website on the net and the MC is just a big fan of sci-fi so he happened to stumble upon it and liked it.

The author wrote the alien invasion and some of it is already happening so he must have some kind of insight on how they're going to pull it off or he has some inside contact within the alien ranks. That is very important to know if they plan on saving humanity. Not to mention that the novel is not complete so they need him to know the rest.

 

Does that answer the questions?

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Were you thinking there's a time travel element involved? Or maybe the author is an alien himself; that would give him a definite in.

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Were you thinking there's a time travel element involved? Or maybe the author is an alien himself; that would give him a definite in.

 

I'd like to stay away from time travel, because it brings with it all sorts of trouble haha

 

But, it's like you said, the thought that the author might be an alien has indeed crossed my mind. It could make a nice twist to the story. But so far I haven't really thought much about it; I just played a bit with the concept and premise.

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