Thursday, March 31, 2016

Goals for April

1.  Finish the second draft of Mars.
2.  Do the mobi edit for Mars.
3.  Go over a beta read of Venus and make edits accordingly.
4.  Go over a beta read of Mercury (if available) and make edits accordingly.
5.  Settle on two cover designs for Venus and start soliciting opinions.
6.  Add some finishing touches to the outline for Hostile Planet in preparation for writing that book in May.
7.  Write a short story or two.

That's it.  Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Outlines are done... sort of

I've got all eight books of the Wheel of Fire series outlined.  Some outlines are fairly complete.  Others are a little skimpy and will need beefing up at some point.  But my momentum has stalled, and it just doesn't make much sense for me to keep at it for now.  I'll come back to the series with (hopefully) fresher eyes at a later date.

So it's back to Mars, I guess. 

I've also been thinking about purchasing book covers.  I don't want to do it, but I'm afraid of how much it could hurt my book's launch if I don't do it.  I'm also considering putting off publishing the Free Space trilogy until next year.  There are several reasons for this, but I'd rather not go into them right now.

I need to write some more shorts, too, just for fun.  I've only posted one flash fiction story on the blog, and that's unacceptable.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Planning the series first

I'm definitely glad I decided to do this.  By outlining all eight books before starting on book 1, I can go back and revise the earlier outlines to better fit with the later ones.  I can foreshadow book 8 events in book 1, and so on.  I'll definitely be doing this for all future series.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Progress Report

I've got the first six books and about half of the seventh book of the Wheel of Fire series outlined.  More or less, anyway.  The outlines still need a little work.  Once I'm done with all eight, I plan to go back and clean them up.

For novels with chapters, I had originally planned on putting the table of contents in the back so as to free up another page or two for the story in Amazon's Look Inside feature.  Now that they've started looking at that sort of formatting with suspicious eyes, I've decided to put the tables in the front.  Naturally, this plan could change at any moment.  Amazon definitely keeps us on our toes with its ever-changing rules.

Still playing around with cover designs.  The good thing is that the three Free Space books will all have basically the same cover, just different titles and planets.  Series branding, you know.  So once I've decided on a design for Venus, I'll use the same one for the other two books.  The Wheel of Fire books will be trickier.

So that's where I'm at.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Progress Report

The outlines for the Wheel of Fire series are coming along.  I've got the first four books outlined, more or less, and about half of the fifth book's outline done.  I've got "hero's journey" arcs plotted out for five characters (including the protagonist, of course) and a villain's journey plotted out for a sixth character.  Those are series-wide arcs, not in-book arcs.  The only character to have a hero's journey for each book is the hero.

Once I'm done, I expect I'll need to go back and revise them all.  I'm sort of learning about the world and the characters as I outline, much the same way one does when writing the first draft.  And even if I make them as perfect as can be, these outlines are still just that--outlines.  Once the actual writing starts, all bets are off.  I try to plan out everything I can beforehand, but I still allow myself the freedom to improvise when necessary.  It makes for a chaotic, sloppy writing process at times, but it gets the job done.

I'm still planning on launching the Free Space trilogy in October.  All three books have been written, and the first two have already seen various stages of revision and beta reading.  I also hope to publish at least the first book of the Wheel of Fire before the end of the year, but that remains to be seen.  I expect to at least get the first draft done.

I've also been toying with the idea of purchasing covers.  I don't want to do that, since it's expensive and I'd rather save that money for marketing, but if my own designs don't suffice, then I may just have to bite the bullet.  I'm still working on my own designs, though.  At some point, I'll probably put a few up on kboards and ask the folks there for their opinions.  If I think I can get away with a homemade cover, then I'll absolutely do it.

So that's where I'm at.  When April arrives, I'll get back to Mars.  My immediate goal, though, is to get these Wheel of Fire outlines done within the next three weeks.  I accomplished my Mars first draft goal.  I think I can accomplish this one, too.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Progress Report

I've got the first three books of Wheel of Fire outlined.  They're loose outlines, and will probably see major revisions once I start actually writing the series.  But that's fine.  The point of having an outline is to have a starting point and a general direction of where you're going and how you want to get there.  Once you dive into the first draft, things get wild and woolly, and the outline gets twisted and beaten like a rented mule.

I've also sketched out a series-spanning hero's journey for five different characters, including, of course, the protagonist.  I've also got a villain's journey.  Heh.  I've got all this stuff on a spreadsheet so I can see who is what point in his/her arc during which book.  Pretty fancy, right?

And I've been toying with cover design, too.  That's not as fun.  I wish I had more talent in that area.  Actually, I wish I could afford to hire people to make my covers for me.  Maybe some day.

So that's where I'm at.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Villain's Journey

I'm in the process of outlining, and I realized I needed a character arc for a villain.  I decided to go with a Villain's Journey that is basically the inverse of the Hero's Journey.

Well, I did a little googling, but didn't really find the results I wanted.  As far as I can tell, there's no 12-step journey for villains like there is for heroes.  If Christopher Vogler wrote one, I haven't found it yet.

So I figured I'd make my own Villain's Journey.  Should be easy enough using the Hero's Journey as an inverse template.  So here's what I've come up with.  I'll list the Hero's Journey (actually Vogler's Writer's Journey) step on the left, and then a slash, and then the corresponding Villain's Journey step.  Then I'll compare and contrast.

So let's get to it.

Ordinary World / Master of His Domain

Yeah, so I went a little Seinfeld-esque with that.  It fits, though.  In Ordinary World, the hero is mostly content but powerless.  In Master of His Domain, the villain is the inverse of that: he is powerful, but not content.  He wants something.  Which brings us to the next step.

Call to Adventure / Initiation of the Plan

In the Call to Adventure, the hero is beckoned by some outside force to enter a larger world.  His pleasant world has been disturbed.  He doesn't want an adventure, but starts to think he has to go on one anyway because it's the right thing to do.  He eventually accepts the call because it's the selfless and responsible act.  In Initiation of the Plan, the villain is the one doing the beckoning and disturbing.  He doesn't need his Plan, but he wants it.  It appeals to his vanity.  It's the wrong thing to do, and he probably knows it deep down, but he doesn't care.  His decision to initiate his plan is selfish and irresponsible.

Refusal of the Call / Hubris

In Refusal of the Call, the hero decides not to go on an adventure.  He likes the comfort of home.  He knows his limitations, or thinks he does, and he doesn't want to exceed them.  He is careful and afraid.  In Hubris, the villain wants the adventure.  He wants to initiate the plan.  He doesn't know his limitations.  His actions are bold but reckless.  He is not afraid, or at least not afraid enough, and it makes him careless.

Meeting the Mentor / Alienating Others

The hero meets the mentor, an ally who will guide him along the adventure.  The hero may or may not get along with the mentor, but he respects his wisdom and experience.  The mentor helps him grow in ways he couldn't on his own.  In Alienating Others, the villain may or may not get along with his peers and associates.  But he doesn't respect them.  He knows better than they, and he'll show them all by fulfilling his plan.  He fails to grow in ways that he might have if he hadn't alienated them.  The hero's mentor is often one of the ones alienated by the villain.  Examples of this are Saruman alienating Gandalf and Vader alienating Kenobi.

Crossing the Threshold / Blind Spot

The hero crosses the threshold into the new world, and the adventure has begun.  He is tepid and cautious.  He knows he's out of his element, and it scares him.  The villain, inversely, has a Blind Spot: he is bold and brash, overconfident and lackadaisical about the small, seemingly unimportant details of his plan.  He knows (or thinks he knows) he's the smartest one in the world, and acts accordingly.

Tests, Allies, Enemies / Challenging the Hero

The hero has to endure a lot of stuff.  This is the meat of the story.  He suffers numerous failures, but keeps on keeping on.  He gradually gains skills and confidence.  In Challenging the Hero, the villain realizes he needs to put some real effort into his plan.  He sends his lackeys out to do his bidding.  He always seems to be on the verge of winning, but can never quite put an end to that pesky hero.  He gradually loses resources and confidence.

Approach to the Inmost Cave / Underestimating the Threat

The hero gets ready to storm the castle.  The villain underestimates him, allowing him entry.

Ordeal / Fatal Mistake

The hero's Ordeal is the big fight that turns the tide of the story.  It's not the climax, but when it's completed, the momentum is on the hero's side for the first time.  The villain's Fatal Mistake is allowing the hero to seize the momentum.  The villain realizes, too late, that he has allowed the hero to become too powerful.  His Plan is now in jeopardy.

Reward / Loss

The hero rescues the princess, or whatever his goal was.  His confidence surges to a new high.  The villain loses something very dear to him.  His desperation surges to a new high.

The Road Back / Desperate Pursuit

The hero must return to the Ordinary World.  Along the way, he is pursued by the villain's agents.  He must maintain possession of what he took from the villain.  The villain engages in Desperate Pursuit.  He wants back what was lost.

Resurrection / Defeat

The hero engages in the final battle against the villain.  The hero wins and is born anew.  He is now master of two worlds--the ordinary world and the special world.  The villain is defeated.  Once the master of the special world, he is now master of neither world, and has indeed been rejected by both.

Return With the Elixir / Bereft of Power

The hero has saved the day.  Women want him.  Men want to be him.  The villain has lost everything.  He is either dead or reduced to an impotent shadow of his former glory.

So there we have it.  A Villain's Journey that is the equal and opposite of the Hero's Journey.  Isaac Newton would be proud.

And visit Vogler's site for more about the Hero's Journey.