Gail Z. Martin: Plotting out the Plot

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Outlines are great, but I have discovered a new power tool when it comes to plotting—flow charts.

Publishers like to see a synopsis and a detailed outline. These help a lot, but I’ve found that when I really get into the nitty-gritty of writing, they often are too high-level to point me in the right direction. In a 600+ page epic fantasy with multiple point-of-view (POV) characters and interweaving plot threads, it can get difficult to keep straight who is doing what to whom.

Enter the flow chart.

Mine are pretty simple. I use either several pieces of legal-size table paper taped together or a white board. I start with chapter numbers across the top, and the names of the POV characters down the left side. Then I note who is doing what in each chapter. Usually, one character owns the [...]

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So Good to Be Bad: The Study of a Bond Villain

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I remember being on a panel about Character Construction and hearing the con’s distinguished Guest of Honor say something along the lines of “You want to make your villains complex and multi-layered otherwise they resemble something out of a James Bond movie

My own reply to this was “You say this as if it were a bad thing.”

Let’s face facts — no villain is more fun to watch in action than a classic James Bond Villain. I’ve heard authors mock the megalomaniacs of Bond’s world, dismissing them as forgettable, cookie-cutter caricatures. I find this argument irrevocably flawed as we all recall with delight that legendary exchange between Auric Goldfinger and James Bond as an industrial laser is slowly inching its way up to Bond’s body:

Bond: “Do you expect me to talk?”Goldfinger: “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

The crafting behind a Bond Villain begins with a [...]

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Writing By Numbers

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As far as I know, there aren’t any packages with paper, pens, and numbers you fill in to write a masterpiece, so that’s not what this is about.

It’s the simple fact that I hate numbers. Now, as a former biologist, who specialized in the most math heavy specialty in biology, that may seem odd. However, by the time I was in grad school, computers were just entering the scenes and there were wonderful programs that could do the biostats in seconds. With a matrix of nine characters across (leaf measurements) and five hundred across (number of plants), it made life easy.

I still can’t balance my checkbook. I can’t remember my phone number. And I have a heck of a hard time keeping score when I judge dogs. I let someone else take care of the addition.

Why didn’t anyone tell me the truth about how [...]

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Getting Here

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<Looks around!> Wow! <Fangirl squee!> <Thud!>

What am I doing here, on this blog, with people that I admire for their strong characters, their ability to give me a vacation from life, for making me think?

Got me. I’m not famous. Not as a writer, anyhow. Now, if you are into dogs or plants, but this blog has nothing to do with any of that.

So here I am, surrounded by those I admire. And stalk. I go to their signings, I follow their pages and blogs and tweets. I want to know more about them. How do they get their ideas? Where do they work? What famous person did they model their characters after?

I want to be the one that finds out what happens in the next book before anyone else.

Boy, that IS stalkerish.

I could stalk, though, if I didn’t know [...]

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Greetings from the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences: A Formal Introduction from a Steampunk World

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peculiaradjectivestrange or odd; unusual : his accent was a peculiar mixture of Cockney and Irish.• [ predic. ] informal slightly and indefinably unwell; faint or dizzy : I felt a little peculiar for a while, but I’m absolutely fine now.

occurrencenounan incident or event : vandalism used to be a rare occurrence.• the fact or frequency of something happening : the occurrence of cancer increases with age.• the fact of something existing or being found in a place or under a particular set of conditions : the occurrence of natural gas fields.

Greetings, Friendly Reader of Ætherblogs far-and-wide. My card…

Oh, dashitall, that really doesn’t work here, does it?

Greetings, Friendly Reader of Ætherblogs far-and-wide. My name is Wellington Thornhill Books, and I am the Chief Archivist and — much to my dismay — Active Field Agent serving at Her Majesty’s behest from within the [...]

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Philippa Ballantine: Dawn’s Early Light

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The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, is the steampunk series I write with my husband, Tee Morris. (In case you are wondering Steampunk is a form of science fiction set usually in Victorian England. Here’s a bit of a deeper explanation from our website. )

The story was first conceived as a podcast audio drama we were going to charge for. It was a spin-off concept from a novel idea that Tee had and we had briefly discussed. My idea was to co-write with Tee, who was just a friend at that stage, so that I didn’t have to do all the work, just in case the podcast for pay scenario didn’t work out. We never really expected it to go anywhere, but we had only written three chapters before our agent rang and said someone was interested in it as a novel.

[...]

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Amy Sterling Casil: About Like Fire

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Like Fire is not yet published and I am offering a beta read version to the Magical Words community, in love and trust. I’ve done a number of collaborative projects over the years, and these were always the best, most rewarding things I’ve done. I will be publishing this book later this year – with all the improvements and changes suggested by beta readers taken into full consideration, with full acknowledgement. So it is your care, love and consideration as those who love fantasy literature, to help make this the best venture possible.

Here’s the story of the book. The basic concept is, what if a leader at a critical juncture – overseeing the survival of all, with capacity to stop killing and violence, or to continue it – was a woman, not a man? What if King Arthur had been a woman? Abraham Lincoln?

 

Well, the [...]

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