This planning malarkey is harder than you’d think, and not a metric shit ton of fun. Over the last few days I’ve been reading what some experts have to say and experimenting with story structure work sheets and something called beat sheets. They’re probably very good tools–especially if you’re making a movie–but I’ve decided that this time around, at least, they’re not for me. Mostly because I only have a month to do this thing.
If you’re curious, you can find out all about work sheets and beat sheets at Jami Gold’s website, which is a–pardon me–gold mine of resources and advice. My take?
First. they’re a toolkit, nothing more. So take the parts you need and don’t stress about the rest.
Second, whatever you do, do NOT get hung up on the mathematics that appears to suggest that something MUST happen on page 135 of your book because that’s what Microsoft Excel is telling you. Like the pirate code, these are only guidelines.
So what did I achieve over the last four days. Well.
- I worried about the election.
- I unfriended a couple of idiot asshats on Facebook.
- I read Save The Cat by Blake Snyder.
- I reread Albert Zuckerman on blockbuster novels.
- I scanned Lawrence Block’s Telling Lies for Fun and Profit, for fun and inspiration.
And then this afternoon, I got busy. After lunch–a nice vindaloo, thanks for asking–I set out to write a “query” for my unwritten novel. This is as far as I got, warts and all, and despite leaving it unfinished, it’s a tool I recommend completely and utterly since it got me focused on the two most important things–character and plot.
Prudence’s mother is missing and the British Secret Service warns Pru she might be next. What’s a girl to do? Well, it depends.
The daughter of an infamous criminal and spy (retired), Pru is not your typical seventeen-year-old. Every afternoon when London flees the Fog, she takes to the rooftops to investigate. Until she is captured by the Royal Spymaster, Sir Christopher Tarentine.
Tarentine shows Pru security footage of her mother stealing a magical ring from the Louvre. The Angel brothers, he says, are using the ring to summon the Fog while they scour London for an ancient book of enchantments that will endow the ring with the power of biblical kings. Pru can guess the rest. The future of mankind et cetera.
Pru’s mother, Tarentine tells her, is working for the Angels under duress, and Pru is their leverage. She must disappear into protective custody so her mother will be free to fight back. His case is convincing, but it isn’t in Pru’s blood to hide and hope for the best. She sets out to rescue her mother herself.
At that point, I was stuck. So I went to the gym where I hit things, kicked things, and generally messed around with weights. Ending up with thirty minutes on an exercise bike in front of Fox News, I was finally snogged senseless by inspiration. and saw exactly how Pru’s story will pan out. It’s got everything I was hoping for. Magic, sass, secrets, and betrayal. And even an unlikely lurve interest.
This evening, I’ve stuffed all that stuff into a 500 word outline that might one day become a synopsis. Yay me.