Monday, July 23, 2012

Midnight Warrior

Hello everyone!

Before I continue on with my series on the four defining scenes, I wanted to introduce you to my new book that I am now working on.  It is the first in a series that will (hopefully) have seven books.  The series is called "Across the Golden Sea" and the book I am working on is called "Midnight Warrior"

The story follows three characters.

Josten, the second son of a famous general.
Aralyn, the dreaded Midnight Warrior.
Caid, the youth who knows the secrets of both good and evil.

The book is being written in alternating first person point of view.  It took me awhile to choose what POV to write it in.  I LOVE writing and reading first person, but I needed the freedom of third person.  Soo...alternating first person!  Its a lot of fun so far, and I am starting to realize that "Midnight Warrior" is like two novels in one.  The first is an adventure novel following Josten, and the second seems to be a "Man Who Learned Better"  novel following Aralyn.  Oh yeah, and I thought I would do something fun and random to introduce y'all to the three main characters.  Sorry, I would love to bring the villain in, but he's a surprise.  >:)

How did you come to be in the story world?

Josten- Uhh...I was born.
Aralyn (shrugs)
Caid- Sorry, can't tell.  I'll get killed.

Umm...okay, what is your situation at the beginning of the story?

Josten- My life totally rocks, you really went all out for me Kaycee.  I'm hated by everyone who comes in contact with me because I was born two minutes after my illustrious brother.  I'm treated as a slave and live a this academy where people can come and "rent" me if they want.  My father loathes me and tried to kill me as a baby.  I'm almost seventeen which means I need to pick my job that I will be stuck with for the rest of my life.  My choices?  House slave, Sile miner, front line slave soldier, priest slave, or farm slave.  Yeah, my life rocks.  (glares at me)

Aralyn- I'm feared everywhere in the Triune sea as the Midnight Warrior.  I attack everyone in my path and I never lose.

Josten- (snickers)

Caid- I live with my...father.  I help Aralyn in any way I can.  That is all.

Josten- Yep, Aralyn's little whipping boy.

Caid- (laughs)  I guess so.

What happens that changed your world?

Josten- I broke into the castle and set Aralyn, who apparently never makes mistakes, free from the dungeons.

Aralyn- (indignant)  I was betrayed.  I did not make a mistake, the imbecile who betrayed me did.  And believe me he or she will know it before I am done.  (smiles grimly)

Caid- I met this crazy guy who claims to speak to ghosts named Josten.

Josten- Not ghosts.  Ghost.  Get it right.

Who is your favorite character in the story?

Josten- Me, duh.

(sigh) other than yourself.

Josten- That's tricky...
Aralyn- My father.
Caid- (flushes)...well...
Josten- He's got a major crush on Gelane.
Caid- (face turns red)

What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?

Josten- Huh?  What free time?  Maybe I'd be able to find out if you, yes you Kaycee, weren't always sending me off on these crazy adventures.
Aralyn- I like singing.
Caid- I enjoy inventing things.

Final question, if you had the choice between eating crushed beetle or fried worm what would you choose?

Josten- Do you honestly sit around all day and think this junk up?  Really?  You have nothing else to do with your life?
Caid- Will this scenario be in the novel....?
Aralyn- I'm not answering this.
Josten- What type of beetle is it?  Cuz some beetles are supposed to be healthy.
Caid- (facepalm)
Aralyn- Your disgusting.

(This is Kaycee now!)

Well, hope you enjoyed this very random post!  XD

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inciting Incident

Inciting Incidents are the thing that starts a story.  They have to be big enough so that your hero's world completely changes and he can not go back to his old life.  They also have to catch your reader's attention and keep them hooked.  They ALSO have to, on some level, demonstrate your villain's badness.  And that's just the Inciting Incident.  

II's usually take place during the first chapter of a novel.  The first chapter also has to get the reader to like the hero, to understand the genre, voice, and time period of the novel, and what type of story you are telling. The first chapters have a lot running on them.  I know some people who have a really hard time writing the first few scenes of a novel, but they can write well and quickly once they get to the middle.  I also know people who fly through the first scenes but have difficulty on the middle (cough, me).  

I'll probably do a longer blog post about this, but I believe that their are only three types of stories.  The Heroic Quest, Boy Meets Girl, and The Man Who Learned Better.  Many novels have two or more of these in the story, but the main plot is always one of these three things.  For instance, Lord of the Rings is a Heroic Quest story, but they have several romance sub-plots (Aragorn/Arwen, Faramir/Eowyn) and a few Man Who Learned Better sub-plots.  (Legolas and Gimli's friendship, Pippin and Merry growing wiser, Boromir's change before his death, etc.)

A Christmas Carol is an example of Man Who Learned Better, and Pride and Prejudice is an example of Boy Meets Girl.  

There are II's in each of these genres, but I am only talking about Heroic Quest because that is my favorite and it is what I write.  First chapters will usually show what your hero's life was like before the II and it shows the injustice the hero is suffering.  A few examples...

The Hunger Games- The first scenes show Katniss hunting for food to keep from starving with her buddy Gale.  This shows that Katniss hunts everyday, and it also shows the injustice, she has to keep her mother and sister from starving because her dad is dead, her mother is weak, and Prim is young.  

Tarzan of the Apes- The first scenes of the novel show Tarzan swinging around with his Ape family who don't really accept him and him being completely unaware of it.  Tarzan is happy.  Though Tarzan does not know the injustice, the readers do.  We know about his parents being marooned on the island by wicked sailors and we know what Tarzan is missing out on.  

Sword in the Stars- The first scenes show Alastair searching relentlessly for signs of the Halfainin, and battling his increasing need for the illegal drug, Witchdrale.  The injustice is that Alastair is unable to find what he has given his life to find, and that he can't fight his need for the drug.  

Heroic Quest novels usually start the story with one of the three things; a fight, a new arrival, or trouble.  A fight can be any type of fight, verbal, emotional, internal, or physical.  A new arrival sounds obscure at first, but it is actually pretty common, when somebody comes to the heroes world that is either bad or good.  Sometimes the hero is the new arrival.  In "Isle of Swords" the new arrival is Cat, the mysterious boy found alone and beaten on an island.  And trouble, depending on your story, can really be anything from a missing jewel to a rumor.  

The Inciting Incident itself is usually caused by the villain and it forces the hero to do something, but life cannot be the same for the hero.  

In The Hunger Games, the Inciting Incident is Prim getting picked in the reaping.  There are a lot of things Katniss could do, but no matter what her life will never be the same again.  She could stay silent and watch Prim die, she could volunteer knowing she will probably die, she could attack the guards and still watch Prim die, she could break down and scream loudly, she see where I am going with this?  But no matter what Katniss did, her life was going to change drastically.  

In The Patriot, the Inciting Incident is malicious murder of Benjamin Martin's son.  Benjamin chooses to go to war against the British for revenge.  He could have chosen to stay home, or to go to war for patriotism, but he chose revenge and it changed his life.  But his life was already changed because of the Inciting Incident.  

So, to summarize, first chapters typically have most, if not all, of these things.  

-They begin with a fight, trouble, or new arrival to grab the reader's attention.
-They show the hero's old life
-They show the injustice the hero is suffering
-They demonstrate the hero's character and positive ideal
-The Inciting Incident which usually demonstrates the villain's badness.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Four Defining Scenes

Every novel has four defining scenes.  The Inciting Incident, Embracing Destiny, The Black Moment >:), and the Showdown.  Yeah, I didn't get those terms either the first time I heard them.  Let me explain briefly and I plan on doing a series of posts on these scenes.

The Inciting Incident is the big "thing" that starts the story.  It has to be so big that the hero cannot get out of it or make it go away easily.  It usually is caused by the villain.  Some people call it "The day everything changed."

Embracing Destiny is when the hero finally decides to commit to the story goal and/or defeat the villain.  Whereas Inciting Incidents usually happen immediately in a story, the Embracing Destiny varies.  Sometimes it happens immediately after the II, other times it happens halfway through the story.

The Black Moment begins the final act of a story.  It is when everything goes terribly and horribly wrong for the hero because of the villain.  The hero is usually given a chance to quit and turn back at this point.

The Showdown is the final confrontation between the hero and the villain.  This is when the clash of ideals needs to be really evident (I'll explain more about this in a later post).  In adventure novels, showdowns are usually a mixture between a verbal fight and a violent fight.

Here are some examples....

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe-

II- Lucy discovering another world inside the wardrobe.
ED- Peter, Susan, and Lucy decide to go with the Beavers to Aslan.
BM- Aslan's death.
S- The Battle of Beruna

Star Wars: Original Trilogy-

II- Luke coming home and finding his aunt and uncle dead and the farm destroyed.
ED- Luke agreeing to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan.
BM- Luke fights Darth Vadar, gets hand chopped off, discovers truth about father, and loses.
S- Luke confronting the Emperor and becoming a Jedi.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

II- Port Royal being attacked by pirates and Elizabeth captured.
ED- Will freeing Jack from prison and enlisting his help.
BM- Will captured by Barbossa, Jack and Elizabeth marooned on an island.
S- The Battle on Isla de Muerta

Every good adventure novel should have these four parts.  Now, I am not saying be cliche.  How you choose to do these scenes is up to you, but these type of scenes just work.  

Think about your favorite adventure stories.  Now think of the most memorable scene in the story.  Odds are, it will fit into one of these four defining scenes, most likely the Black Moment or the Showdown.  When I think of Lord of the Rings, the first two scenes I think of are (spoiler warning) the part when Frodo says "I will take the Ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way."  (Embracing Destiny) and the part when Frodo and Sam finally arrive at Mount Doom and Frodo says "The Ring is mine."  (Showdown) (end spoiler)

Even if you don't like outlining your novel, it is good to know these four scenes before you begin.  They will help give your novel definition and shape.

Part 2 coming soon!  :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Trouble with Heroes

In every story I have invented, of all the characters, the heroes have caused me the most trouble.  Sometimes they are too weak (Julia fidgets in a corner), other times they have nothing redeeming about them (Aralyn chuckles ruefully as she sharpens her sword), other times I just can't figure out what on earth the brat WANTS in life (Josten grins and winks), and sometimes, they are just plain obnoxious.  (Ember sticks her tongue out)

Heroes are hard because your stuck with them throughout the entire story.  Its hard to make people like them, but still make them realistic.  I'm no expert, but I figured out a quick and easy way to get people hooked on your hero.  

Make the hero suffer some sort of injustice.

It can be caused by the villain or not.  Its good to pick something your reader will sympathize with.  It can be big: you could have the parents be murdered by the villain and he is forced to work as a slave on a grueling hot island.  Or it could be smaller: he's small, he's bullied, his nose is too big.  (Cyrano de Bergerac anyone?)

"Star Wars" does this.  Luke is stuck on a planet he does NOT want to be on while all his friends are leaving and having adventures.  His dad was a warrior, but he's (Luke thinks) dead.  He has no clue who is mom was.  He's stuck on a farm with his aunt and uncle.  I'm sure everyone (cough, teenagers) has felt this way at some point.  

"Lord of the Rings" does this too, but it is much less noticeable.  Frodo has a pretty good life.  He lives with his favorite relative, Bilbo, who has made him his heir.  He has plenty of friends who love him.  True, his parents did die when he was just a baby, but, lets be real here, he was raised in Buckleberry.  I wish I were raised in Buckleberry.  

So where did the injustice come from?  Easy.  Frodo did not ask for the Ring.  It was given to him.   

Make the hero's response to this injustice be noble.

The whole injustice thing will be useless if you don't make the hero respond like a hero to it.  If you have an orphan who kicks puppies and robs old ladies, you have just made yourself a villain.  A hero has to be a hero despite his circumstance.  

In "Lord of the Rings,"  Frodo becomes the hero when he follows Gandalf's advice and takes the Ring to Rivendell.  He did not stomp his foot and pout about it.  He didn't take Sam aside and try to convince him to take the Ring.  Frodo got up, left his home, and took it to Rivendell and then later all the way to Mordor.  

"Star Wars" takes a different approach.  Luke is not really faced with the choice of doing anything noble until his aunt and uncle are killed.  The he had some choices...he could stay on Tatooine and go to his academy and become a pilot like all his buddies (that would be the easy route) or he could go with an apparently crazy old hermit on a hair-brained mission to rescue a Rebel leader from the most powerful Empire the universe had ever known (need I mention that that is the hard way?)  And Luke chose the hard way.  That makes him a hero. 

Give your hero a dark side.

Now, I'm not saying a villainous side.  I'm saying a dark side.  Everybody, unfortunately, has one.  Its natural, its because of sin.  Once you are a Christian, you have the capability of getting rid of your dark side, but its hard and we all know it.  

Nobody likes a perfect hero.  Nobody likes someone who is a know-it-all and always makes the right decisions.  Give your heroes flaws.  They can be big or little.  

Lets be honest, Luke is first.  Especially in "A New Hope," Luke spends a lot of the film asking naive questions and annoying Han.  He's also headstrong and reckless.  Throughout the three films, Luke grows considerably.  But even then he's not perfect.  Even in the climactic battle between him and Darth Vadar, he struggles with his dark side.  Luke is one of my very favorite heroes, and he is far from perfect.

Frodo is not whiney, but he does get tempted.  He is tempted by the Ring many times, and he often fails.  He's also stubborn.  He refuses to listen to Sam's warnings about Gollum.  Frodo is not perfect, but he is my very favorite hero.  (Josten raises his eyebrow, Ember pouts, Aralyn glances up from her sword, Julia bites her lip)

Heroes are tough. (I smirk at my quartet of weirdos)  And I still am not very good at them.  If you have any tips, please share!  :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Everyone has heard this, "Conflict drives the Story."  In the World of Writerdom, that is almost as famous as the "show, don't tell" quote.  And I think its true.  Conflict does drive the story.  But the question I used to struggle with was where did the conflict come from?  Okay, yeah, the villain.  But, why?  

And I finally figured it out.  Motivation.  Your hero wants something, but he can't have it.  The villain wants something, but he can't have it because the hero is in the way.  Conflict.  

Its really hard to find a characters motivation.  I'm in the midst of outlining "Midnight Warrior" and I could not find out what it was Josten wanted!  He knew he was an angry character, I knew he covered his anger with over-cockiness, I knew he wanted some revenge...but against who?  Josten did not hold his anger against his dad, but against his entire society.  Who do you punish for that?  

I decided to go with it though.  I knew Josten wanted revenge, but it wasn't enough to fuel the entire story I had planned.  So I let Josten go wild with his revenge.  

(I'll add here that I was slightly upset with this whole revenge thing.  I went that route in "Ember Flame" and it is tough to turn the hero to more noble goals.  But I wanted to see if maybe, just maybe, Josten came through with something noble. ) 

I played through the scene in my head.  Josten is working in the mines with ally.  Josten sneaks away and goes into a tavern, steals a drink, and eavesdrops.  (fantastic, now he's lazy and a thief)  He overhears that his dad, Ruen, just caught the all elusive Midnight Warrior.  Out of spite, Josten makes a plan to capture the Midnight Warrior and force the generals to pay him an enormous ransom.  The ransom would be enough for him and ally to leave the country...forever.  (headdesk) So he goes and he does capture Aralyn.  He sets her free.  

"whaaat?"  I screamed to myself, "He set her free?  Why did he do that?  Aralyn could not have endeared herself to him (I snicker at the thought), he's not usually the pitying type, and he's to selfish to be spiteful and not get his freedom."  (He's a fantastic hero, is he not?  Lets just say the novel will, hopefully, have a lot of character development.  -_-)  

Then it hit me.  Freedom.  Josten wants freedom.  

Duh.  I already knew that.  

But then I got it.  Sure, Josten wants freedom.  More importantly though, Josten cares about freedom.  Deeply.  So much so, to where he is willing to give up his chance at freedom to let cold, heartless Aralyn go back to her freedom.  

The story came easy after that.  Narcul (villain), and to some degree, Aralyn, are both enslaving people.  Josten does not like that, and so he allows himself to be used to help bring freedom.  (yes, I am being vague now, don't want to give too much away)  

The point is, before you decide on the conflict of the story, you need to decide on the motivation of the characters.  

I like to ask two questions, and OYANers will recognize them; what does the hero seem to want? and what does the hero really want?  For Josten, he seemed to want revenge, but he really wanted freedom.  Lets ask those questions for some famous heroes....

Luke Skywalker from Star Wars

What does he seem to want?  He seems to want to become a Jedi and defeat the Empire.
What does he really want?  He wants to be like his father.  Even in "Star Wars: A New Hope" when he agrees to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan, he says "I'm going with you to Alderaan, to learn the ways of the Force like my father.  There is nothing left for me here."

Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind

What dos she seem to want?  Ashley and/or Rhett
What does she really want?  Tara.  She wants a home.  

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

What does she seem to want?  She seems to want to overthrow the Capitol and free the districts
What does she really want?  She wants revenge (in Mockingjay she agrees to the "new hunger games" decision) she wants to be fed and safe and cared for.  

Find your characters' motivation, and you will find your story's conflict


You are probably wondering why a writing blog is titled "The Pink Cave".  Like my other blog, the name comes from my mom.

Occasionally (okay, a lot of the time) I will sneak off to my room to write when I should be doing other things.  My room is painted bright pink and has a lot of purple and turquoise polka dots.  I usually forget to open my blinds which gives my room a secluded feel.  Absolutely perfect for writing.  

But when mom calls me downstairs she always says something along the lines of "How about you come out of your pink cave and help us?"  (For some reason, I always find myself in the "pink cave" when my family starts doing chores.  I'm not sure how that happens.  Honest.)

Anyway, what better title for a writing blog?  Next time mom says "Stop writing in the pink cave and do your chores,"  I'll be able to say, "I wasn't writing in the pink cave, I was writing on the pink cave!"  Sure, that might not help lessen my chores, and sure, it will only work once, but hey, it'll be funny.  

Of course, mom reads this blog so I probably just blew it.  Oh well, it was fun to write!

Speaking of writing, that is what this blog is about!  I love to write.  Always have, but I get the feeling that I will never know everything about writing.  Writing is cool like that.  You will constantly be learning how to do it.  

The only thing better, and more complex, than writing is Story.  Story is a different art altogether, and it has more to learn than even writing does.

I am learning more about writing and Story every day.  I wanted to make a place where I could write down the things I have learned to help me remember.  You might find it interesting, you might not.  That's okay.  The point of this blog is to help me remember the things I learn.  Some of my posts might be quick; "I really liked how so-and-so did this-or-that in their book!"  But more often than not, the posts will probably be long and rambly like this one.  If you find them interesting, or even (gasp) helpful, fantastic!  If you have any tips you want to share with me, double fantastic!  

In summary, I love to write, I love story, I hope you do too, and I should probably go help mom with dinner.