Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chapter Three

This chapter is all about who. Who is your story going to be about? This information will affect my log line, which sits at "A crown does not make a king" at the moment.

Now this log line tells me anyway, that my story is about someone who maybe doesn't have a crown yet, but I already know the story, so that assumption might be too easy. At any rate, it's about someone who might find becoming a king a less than smooth road. 

The bulk of this chapter was a discussion of such an aspect from the movie maker's point of view. Blake Snyder went to great lengths to point out many actors fall happily into certain genre, but that to write your script with a particular actor in mind for the lead is the very worst thing you can do. I'm sure you all have certain actors who whenever you see them, you almost always go see the movie. Sandra Bullock has to be my favorite actress, and a Russel Crow among a handful of others are my favorite actors.

I must confess, most of my main characters are written with Karl Urban in my mind. However, I know full well that never in a million years would he be able to play in one of my movies. Most of my main characters start out in their teens - few of them extend far enough to where he might be able to step into the part. That said, he still gives me an imaginary figure. I can imagine him as a gangly teenager, his turmoil of emotions carefully hidden behind his dark eyes and his smooth face.

Once you've decided on who your story will be about, you need to then figure out why he has to do what you're planning on him doing. To keep things simple, primal is the name of the game. Keep it primal, meaning the most basic of emotions. Survival, hunger, sex, protection of loved ones, and fear of death, are the most basic emotion we can all identify with.

So let's apply this information to my book. Young Harris goes off to learn how to become a king - kind of a vague goal, but he fully intended to come home and apply what he learned. He wanted to follow in his father's footsteps; it was a matter of honor. As time went along, he began to realize how bad things were at home. Only then did he realize how important it was that he not only return home, but that he return with enough strength to set things right. Now, honor did not make Blake's list of primal emotions, but I still think we can identify with the desire to set things right, especially when this act alone will serve to protect his family as well as every other family in the country. 

Now I have a who and a why. Is it enough? We'll have to see. 

Now back to the log line. Blake insists on an adjective to describe the protagonist and an adjective to describe the antagonist. I was reluctant to do the antagonist because the man was very much an unseen entity until the latter half of the book, but I'll give it a shot.
A naive prince heads off to learn what it means to be a king, only to discover that he'd escaped the cage. Now he had to figure out who held the key.
I don't know - maybe. Time will tell. What do you think?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chapter Two

Chapter two of Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder is about genre, and if you've ever looked up genre in Wikipedia in an effort to decide what category your latest work in progress falls into, you know that we book writers have what seems like a million to choose from and someone is always coming up with what they think is a new mix or a new evolution of the same thing. According to Blake Snyder, it all can be narrowed down to ten bulk categories. It all goes toward the effort of attracting the attention of an agent or producer in the shortest amount of time - i.e. at a glance.

I'll list and briefly explain the ten genres, and then I'll let you know what I picked. As I can see it so far, this all just might help the rewrite of the book. There's nothing like having a guide on what to focus on as you write your book.
  • Monster in the House - is exactly what it says. Someone or something is a monster in a confined area and it simply must be defeated.
  • Golden Fleece - is the hero taking to the road in search of whatever and finds himself instead.
  • Out of the Bottle - the bottle being something akin to a genie's bottle leading toward the granting of some sort of normally out-of-reach wish.
  • Dude with a Problem - is like it says. An ordinary dude who is suddenly face with an extraordinary problem.
  • Rite of Passage - is when life throws your average dude a brick, but that's life, now deal with it. How that is accomplished is the story.
  • Buddy Love - is two people who hate each other at first but end up loving each other in some way. Yeah, this is every love story in the works, but it's more than that.
  • Whydunit - This is more than just your average mystery. It's why. Why did they do what they did? But it's also the agony of putting all the pieces together.
  • The Fool Triumphant - is the underdog triumphing against the egotistical big guy.
  • Institutionalized - is very group-oriented type story.
  • Superhero - is far more than the comic book-type story that might first come to mind. It is also about the very rich or very smart needing to deal with the average people he needs to deal with.
 For my book, I chose Rite of Passage because my hopefully average teenage boy had to figure out what it meant to be a king, and as it turned out, that goal ended up being far more than he could have ever guessed at the beginning. I also think Monster in the House is involved. Harris's entire problem is because of an unseen monster (Kain). I also think Golden Fleece is mixed in. Though not something he initiated himself, Harris takes quite a journey, physically, as well as within himself, in order to become the king it was his blood-right to become.

At some point, I might narrow that down, but it is what it is so far. I'm learning.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chapter One

Okay so I've been reading through my new book, Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder, and here is what I learned from Chapter One:

Using my first book, currently published under the title, King by Right of Blood and Might, as my guinea-pig, it has already gone through some evolving, and I haven't typed a word of it yet.

About the first thing I learned when I got internet and started looking into all the writing blogs I found, was that the title was too long. I also learned from more than one conversation about the book, that the cover was all wrong. There was also one review, from a writer who knows more than I do about writing a book, which said that the writing was amateurish and rough. So republishing it has always been in the plans.

According to Blake Snyder, before you write your very first word of your script, you have to answer one very important question.
"What is it?"
And of course, you have to consider that the title of your script will be in a pile of probably hundreds, so it has to grab the guy by the tie and make his eyes bug out with excitement. It needs to blast into his brain the entire movie, or at least plausible parts of it.

So, what is King by Right of Blood and Might? Does that title do anything at all for you? It's very lyrical, but that's about all it has going for it. Quest to Become King, its original title while I was writing it, is no better, at least not in answering that question. I've been hashing over titles for forever, something short and to the point, and most recently I'd chosen The Riddle of Steel. You guessed it - that doesn't answer that question either; it just reminds me of that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, Conan, where the boy Conan's father tried to explain it to him. I didn't understand that explanation, but I did like that title so I did a little research about it so I could apply some of that concept to my book. That concept will stay, but once again, the title had to change. Currently I have Crown of Steel.

I came to that decision because irony is the best gripper (according to Blake anyway). I chose that because it wasn't gold that gained these kings their lands, it was the strength of their steel and the skill in their arms. I don't know, as I read on, the title might evolve farther. We'll see.

Another thing covered in this chapter, equally as important as the title, is the log-line. The log-line is the one liner that also has to answer the 'what is it?' question. I came up with two - one longer than the other, which also might be used on the book's blurb (maybe)
If he was to believe his father, the crown would be his - no question, but what he didn't tell him was that he'd have to retake the country in order to be king.
The actual log-line (so far) evolved to this:
A crown does not make a king.
That leaves the cover, or the movie poster as the case may be. I'm toying with a sword leaning up against an oak tree with a heavy crown hanging on it. I'd thought of the sword poked into the ground, but that reminded me of rifles poked into the ground with helmets hanging on them - a grave. I also thought about the teepee thing where soldiers would lean their rifles against each other while camp was set up, or whatever the task was, but that was more an army scene and though Harris does return with an army, it is a loaner.

I don't know. That's only Chapter One. Things may still evolve. What do you think?