Tag Archives: sequel

Coming to the Climax

First, an update: I have been writing every day, and last night hit 45,000 words. That’s 75% of my total goal of 60,000. I’m not sure if I will hit that target for my final word count, but I should definitely finish by the end of this month.

Now, on to the story. Please note that there will be spoilers!

Last week I decided I had messed around enough in the middle, and it was time to bring things to the climax. So the first thing I did was to kill off one of the kids. Lisa was the unlucky target.

Andy and Lisa had gone down to the beach to spend some time alone before Lisa’s parents came to pick her up. The killer, Matt, snuck up on them using his power of illusion, drained Andy’s energy so that he couldn’t fight back, and cut Lisa’s throat. Then he carried her into the river and let the current take the body away. A rainstorm washed away all the blood and other evidence, and Matt used his illusions to hide them as he carried Andy to his van.

Meanwhile, Carter and Cailin get worried when Lisa’s parents show up and she doesn’t come out to greet them. Cailin inspects the entire camp using her super vision and finds that both Andy and Lisa are missing. She figures it must have been Matt, and suspects that he is taking them both to the cabin to kill them there. However, she can’t spot them on the roads. She talks Carter into coming with her to the cabin to wait for them there, and they fly off together. With her super speed, they get there in minutes, and make plans to ambush Matt when he arrives.

About an hour later, Matt shows up in his invisible van and drags Andy into his killing shed. Andy is still paralyzed, and offers no resistance as Matt ties him to the autopsy table. Cailin discovers that Lisa isn’t in the van, and wonders what happened to her. Matt takes out a journal in which he logs all of his victims and writes an entry for Lisa, answering her question. She is very upset, and they decide that they should forget about catching Matt and just work on getting away with Andy.

The two kids  fly down to free Andy and get ambushed by Matt. He drains their power and takes Cailin into the cabin and ties her to the bed. Then he brings one of the other kids into the cabin and ties him to the table. She thinks it is Carter, but she can’t see since she is paralyzed and forced to stare at the ceiling. It actually is Andy, and Carter is now strapped to the autopsy table in the shed.

The plan for the next part of the story is that Cailin is recovering her strength faster than the others. I’m saying it’s because her power of super speed gives her more energy than most people, so she can recover faster. I’m also considering something similar for Carter with his super strength, but haven’t decided yet.

My original plan was to have Lisa show up to rescue them after healing from her injuries and coming back to life. However, I’m not sure how she would get to the cabin, and Cailin also has the power to free them, so I’m reconsidering. I will probably still bring Lisa back, but now I’m thinking that Cailin will also have a part to play in the ending.

Actually, another thought just occurred to me that may have some promise. What if Lisa  or Andy find out that they can “borrow” the powers of the others? Part of the premise of this story was about these kids learning to work as a team. Having one of them use the powers of the others to vanquish the killer would wrap up that arc nicely. If you want an example of this, think of how the Fantastic Four defeated Doctor Doom in their movie, Rise of the Silver Surfer. Johnny Storm took all of their powers to go after Doom. This would be similar. I’m thinking maybe Andy should have the honor, as his solo powers aren’t as flashy as the others.

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with the killer once they take him down. I was planning on having them capture him, but maybe a quick death would be better. I guess it depends on whether or not I want to bring him back for a sequel. Right now, I’m not planning on another book, but who knows? I could always write the ending to leave it as an option.

The other thing I have to think about is how to send the kids home. Will they be heroes for stopping the killer? Or will they be in trouble for leaving the camp? What will they do on their own after they go back to their separate homes? All of these questions have to be at least partially answered for the ending.

As you can tell, while I may not think that I can hit 60,000 words, all of the wrap-up required after they stop the killer may very well bring me to that target. I won’t know until I’m done.

After I finish, the plan is to throw it in a drawer and leave it alone for at least several months before I look at it again. I won’t start editing until I’ve let all of the finer points of how to make it better settle in my head.

That’s about all for today. I’ll be back on Wednesday with another update. And now, I’ve got writing to do!

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Almost Ready

I have been thinking, and thinking, and thinking, and now I am almost ready to start writing. The plot outline is coming together, and even though there is a lot of research I would like to do, I am going to start writing on July 1. I am also going to be joining the next round of ROW80, which should help me to focus on the book. My goal is simply going to be to finish the first draft by the end of September. That shouldn’t be a problem.

Today I went through my list of scenes and compiled them into a Word document that I could use as a basic outline. I thought that putting them all on one page might help me figure out where outline might need a bit of reinforcement. There are several places where I think I can expand on my initial thoughts, and in the end it should be stronger, as well as keep me more focused as I write.

Of course, all of this work on the outline might change as I start getting into the story and begin building a closer relationship with each of the characters. It is going to be hard for me to do this, as all of my writing so far has been using a first person viewpoint, and now I am going to write from the third person viewpoint and have FOUR main characters! It’s definitely going to be a struggle for me, but I don’t know of any other way to do this.

I’m planning on starting with a short prologue, showing a meteorite falling to Earth. That little rock will be the source of the superpowers. We’ll probably never see it again. After that I will introduce the kids as the get off the bus for their four weeks at the camp. I was thinking about giving each of them their own scene, showing how they feel about being there and giving me a chance to show the camp from four different viewpoints, but that might make the opening drag on too much. I may be able to condense it into one or two scenes and still give each of them a short introduction. I also need to introduce some of the camp counselors, because they will be important later on.

After the introductions, I’ll go through a little bit of camp routine, and then the campers will go on a nature hike. While they are in the woods a storm will come up, forcing them to seek shelter in a nearby cabin (which is also where the meteorite landed). Some of them will get injured, including one of the counselors. The other counselor will stay with them until the storm passes, then tell them to stay put while he goes for help. The kids will get hungry and eat some food they find in a cupboard, and promptly regret it. The food has been contaminated by the meteorite and they get sick as their bodies change and they get their powers.

A few scenes showing how their powers manifest, and a pact of secrecy, and then they will find the dead bodies. The cabin is also the lair of a serial killer, and the kids decide they will use their new gifts to catch him. Unfortunately, their plan doesn’t go well, and when he shows up one of them dies. The injured counselor is also murdered.

They run back to the camp to get the police, but when they get there they have trouble getting people to believe their story. Their problem is compounded by the fact that when the police investigate the cabin they don’t find any bodies. The kids are now in trouble, but the camp is responsible for them for another three weeks and they convince the police to give them another chance.

The next three weeks are hard for the young superheroes. They get together as often as they can to practice their powers and plan their revenge against the killer. They are forced into action on the last day of camp, and escape back to the cabin, where they are promptly caught by the villain.

Things are looking grim for our heroes when out of the blue the dead kid appears, alive and well. It turns out one of his powers is regeneration, and he came back to life and escaped while the killer was hiding the other bodies. His sudden appearance startles the bad guy, allowing the kids to turn the tables and tie him up. They take him back to camp and turn him over to the police with enough evidence to put him away for life. The kids are heroes and are sent back home to their parents with thanks.

My thoughts for the end of the book are that the killer has also developed some superpowers, and he uses them to escape, vowing revenge against the kids that caught him. This would leave the story open for a possible sequel. I’m not planning anything as a follow-up just yet, but if I get any ideas it would be nice to have that option.

So that’s the plan. I’m going to take some more time for the rest of this week to expand a bit on my character sketches and fill in some of the gaps in my outline, but I really think I will be ready to start writing on Sunday. This is the first time I have had a complete story planned before I started writing, and I really hope that will make my writing stronger. It would be nice to finish a first draft and not feel like it was a wasted effort. I think that every single one of my previous stories is going to need a complete rewrite, keeping only a bare minimum of the original. Hopefully this one will only take minor editing.

The last post on the ROW80 blog said that the official start of the next round will actually be on Monday, July 2, so check back with me then and I’ll give you an update on how I did for my first day of writing. See you then!

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October 20 – Character Arc

Today I promised to talk about Character Arc. This is one of the things that I struggle with in my writing. My problem is that I want my characters to be perfect from the start, just like me. 🙂

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

Perfect characters don’t make for a very good story. I have to admit that even I have gotten bored with my characters when things are too easy for them. So this time I am trying to work out some character flaws for my Valkyrie. Then I can see about helping her overcome them.

My character, Nicole, is a state trooper. She joined the force as a tribute to her father, who disappeared during a “boating accident” on a fishing trip when she was sixteen. The only thing she remembers is that a storm came up suddenly. She hit her head and was knocked out. When she woke up her father was gone and they never found the body.

The truth is that a monster attacked the boat and her father sacrificed himself to protect her. She has blocked out the memory from her conscious mind, but the experience has made her very protective of everyone else. This is the real reason she joined the state police. Other effects of her experience are an obsession with the legends surrounding the “Great Lakes Triangle”, and the occasional nightmare about tentacles coming out of the water.

My question now is how to use these character traits to tell a better story. Her obsession and nightmares are relatively easy. They can be used to create tension between her and her superiors in the force, as well as her friends and loved ones. The tough one is her overprotective nature. On the one hand, it is good trait for a police officer to have. And when she gets her Valkyrie powers she will be much more effective in keeping people safe. On the other hand, giving her those powers will make the tension level of the story drop. It would be a little like having Superman show up to get a cat down from a tree. He would have no problem at all with the little kitty. So what kind of Kryptonite can we put on the little cat’s collar to make things more interesting?

My mind turns back to the legends of the Valkryie. They are said to be sent to collect the dead heroes from the battlefield, so they can join the ranks of the Einherjar in Valhalla. So if Nicole is too protective, the heroes won’t die. If she is too effective, they won’t even be heroes, because she will be the one doing all the work. Somehow, I need to make her realize this, and then she has to allow someone to sacrifice themselves as a hero, just like her father did for her. And of course the person that would cause the most conflict for her with this choice would be her boyfriend.

My plan is to introduce this backstory and her obsession before she becomes a Valkyrie at the first plot point. She will learn to use her new powers and struggle against some supernatural foes, while in the background she starts to remember more of what happened in the boat. At the second plot point she will be pointed in the direction of the monster that killed her father, and which is now threatening her boyfriend. She will then be forced to choose to let him sacrifice himself for her and be a hero.

That’s the plan.

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

My library is undermining my prep work for NaNoWriMo. I now have three books to read in the next month, including REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson. The book is over 1000 pages long. The “good” news is that I only have two weeks to read it, so I have to finish it before NaNoWriMo starts. I took the afternoon off yesterday and managed to get through the first 200 pages, but there are still 800 to go. I’ll be spending most of my free time reading over the next two weeks, but I will still check in, and I will still be thinking about my story when I can, so I may be able to post some more information about how things are going. At the very least I will let you know when I finish this tome.

I may even post a review. So far the book is interesting, but my writing background is making me critique the story as I read it. For example, I am finding a lot of exposition in the book. Most of it reads OK, but some of it seems to fall into the “As you know, Bob” manner of explaining things. This is when the author does his exposition by having one character tell another the information as part of a dialogue. It can work if done right, and like I said, Neal does a good job of this most of the time. But due to my experience in the writing world, it caught my attention. It also makes me wonder how much of this manuscript is story and how much is Neal standing either behind his podium or on his soapbox.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I’m still dieting, but I haven’t been able to get back on the exercise bike yet. I don’t like reading while I ride. I have tried it before and it just doesn’t work well for me. I will try to get on again soon, but I’m not sure when.

Do you think my ideas on character arc will work? Or am I just being mean? Leave a comment to let me know what you think. I’ll be back on Monday to let you know at least how much I have read.

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October 17 – Working on my Concept

As I mentioned on my last post, I have been reading Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. It has been very helpful in making me think about my NaNoWriMo project plans. Today I will cover the first step: Concept.

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

My original concept was a simple sequel to Finding Valhalla, but using a different main character as the Valkyrie. I was going to continue the plot to start Ragnarök, expanding it and raising the stakes for this second book. However, after thinking about it some more, I have decided that since I need to rewrite Finding Valhalla anyway, I think this book may be better suited to be the first in the series, instead of a sequel. I think that Miranda’s story may actually be better suited to be the last book instead of the first.

The writing book talked about defining the story concept as a What If question. It also said that the question should immediately raise other, similar questions. So I tried it out. Here are some of my concept questions:

  • What if a state trooper was forced to become a Valkyrie to take the place of another one that was killed protecting her?
  • What if she had to hide all this from normal people?
  • What if her partners in the police force were suspicious about some of the things she had to do to keep the supernatural world out of the press?
  • What if a federal agency got involved?
  • What if some of the other Valkyries were threatened by the risk of her being discovered?
  • What if the Valkyrie leaders or even the gods got involved?
  • What if the supernatural world was revealed as a result of her failure to do her duty as a Valkyrie?
  • What would the other supernatural races think about this?
  • What if she joined the police to honor the memory of her father?
  • What if whatever killed her father was supernatural and she saw it?
  • What if that drove her to train to fight them, and that is why she was chosen to become a Valkyrie?
  • What if the thing that killed her father is still out there and that is what drives her?
  • What if she is obsessed with revenge for her father’s death?
  • What if that obsession interferes with her duty as a Valkyrie and as a state trooper?
  • What if she also had to try to stop a plot to start Ragnarök?
  • What if the man she loved was killed as part of the plot?

As you can see, there are a lot of things that came to mind, and there are even more that I haven’t put into the list yet. I have a lot of things to think about in the next two weeks. I am also starting to think about working on an outline. I would like to at least plan out the major plot points and work out the character arc before I get started. To be honest, the character arc is the part that I am really struggling with. I think I have a good idea where I want to go with it, but I’m not sure how well it will work out when I start writing.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

I updated my author’s info on the NaNoWriMo website. I plan on starting my outline this week.

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I got on the exercise bike twice yesterday, for 20 miles each time. I burned a little over 600 calories each time. Hopefully that will be enough to at least keep me from gaining anything over the last week. I’m going to have to continue to dedicate myself to do it again though. I should really do at least 20 miles at least three times a week, preferably more.

Please leave a comment with any thoughts you have about my concept. I’m interested in hearing whether or not you think I am heading in the right direction. I’ll be back on Thursday to talk about my character arc.

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October 13 – Writing a Sequel

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I got a lot of information from my muse about her past that I think will be useful when writing my story. My concern now is that I don’t want to just write the first one all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, I am using different characters, a different setting, and different antagonists. My problem is that the concept hasn’t changed. So if the basic premise is the same, how is the new story different from the first one? Even worse, since I am still in the editing process for the first one I don’t know how much I will be able to carry forward from that one to make the second one better.

The overall concept is that a modern-day Valkyrie falls in love while trying to stop Ragnarök. This is the same for both books, but I am writing about different Valkyries. I haven’t figured out yet who is behind the plot to start Ragnarök, so that is one of the problems with the sequel (and the original, for that matter).

I’m thinking about the concept because I have been reading Story Engineering, by Larry Brooks. I am counting reading books on writing as time spent toward Goal 1, for the simple reason that I really need to work on some of these basics in order to improve my writing. I have read several books already, but I guess the things they are trying to tell me haven’t registered in my brain, so I am going to continue to work on this. I am even thinking about doing some of the writing exercises.

So back to my thoughts about the sequel. The danger of writing sequels, as most of us know from the dreck that has come out of Hollywood, is that many sequels don’t live up to the promise of the original. The audience doesn’t want the sequel to be as good as the first one, they expect it to be better. That’s a tough thing to do.

The best way to do sequels is by having the entire series thought out ahead of time. That’s what I’m trying to do with my Immortalis Rex series. I am trying to develop an outline that covers the entire seven or eight book series before I start writing. I want to make sure that each of the major characters has consistent development and that there is a consistent plot that carries through the entire series. And since the series will cover the entire span of human existence, including some centuries (or even millenia) into the future, you can understand why I’m concerned about getting it right.

I have a lot of thinking to do about my Valkyrie story. I may need to reread the first book and figure out exactly what I want to do in the edits so I can work out how I want to write this sequel. I’ll let you know next week how I’m doing. If I can’t get this done in time, I may have to do something else for NaNoWriMo.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

As I said above, I am plotting, planning, and most of all, thinking. Wish me luck!

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

Dieting, but not nearly enough exercise. I need some more hours in the day!

My next check-in will be Monday, October 17. See you then!

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October 6 – Research Hell

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day.

I didn’t do any writing, but I have been researching every day, trying to figure out where I am going with this new novel. And I have to say, it has been astoundingly frustrating!

I have been diligently combing through all my books on Norse mythology to try to figure out what I am going to do with this new Valkyrie story, but I’m having trouble coming up with something.

The problem is that there just isn’t that much there. The Norse mythology isn’t like the Greek or Roman legends. There is really just the one source, the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson. Most of it deals with the old gods, with a few pieces on some of the more exotic heroes, like Sigurd. The Valkyries are barely mentioned, with only one standing out. That one would be Brynhilde, who paired up with Sigurd.

I was thinking of rewriting my first Valkyrie book to use the legend of Sigurd and Brynhilde as the basis. That’s a good idea, but that leaves me with the question of what to do with the sequel. I can’t use the same story, because it is a different Valkyrie, with a different love interest.

I did find something about Helgi Hunding-slayer (half-brother f Sigurd) and the Valkyrie Sigrún, but my information only touches on the highlights of the story, so I don’t know if I have enough to base my story on it. I am going to need to find the whole tale before I can do more planning.

The other problem I have with my research is that I haven’t been able to get my interview scheduled yet with my “muse”. I haven’t even seen her since the day I took her picture. Hopefully I will be able to touch base with her today or tomorrow to arrange a meeting. I really want to know more about her and her dead boyfriend so I can do them both justice in my book.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November.

It’s not November, so this isn’t happening. Yet. But you can bet that it’s at the top of my mind every day!

Goal 3: Diet and exercise to lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round.

I have been careful about what I eat, and I have walked to work the last two days instead of driving. I should get on my exercise bike too, but at least I am getting some exercise. It’s two miles from my house to my work, so that’s four miles of walking, or about an hour of total exercise. And there’s a hill in the middle, so it’s uphill both ways!

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll check back again on Monday. See you then!

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October 3 – ROW80, Round 4

Welcome back!

Today marks the start of the fourth round of ROW80. I was in the first and second rounds, but skipped the third. That was probably a mistake. I missed all my friends, and my writing habits slipped. So now I’m back, and it’s just in time to get ready for NaNoWriMo.

So the first thing I suppose I need to do is lay out my goals for this round. I gave this a bit of thought over the last couple weeks, and I think I have some reasonable goals. The nice thing about ROW80 is that if the goals aren’t working out I can change them.

Goal 1: I will work on my writing every day. This will be either:

  • write at least 500 words.
  • spend at least one hour on planning or research for the story.

Goal 2: I will participate in NaNoWriMo in November. I finished early last year, and plan to finish this year too.

Goal 3: Lose at least 10 pounds by the end of this round. I will NOT using writing as an excuse to ignore my diet.

Right now I think these goals are attainable. Right now I am committed to following this plan. Right now I am dedicated to getting back to my writing so I can make progress toward getting a finished novel ready to publish. Next week I may feel differently, but I’ll deal with that when I get to it.

Last week I said I would try to have an idea ready for NaNoWriMo. I have an idea, but it is very vague and needs a lot of thought and work before I will be ready to start writing. My idea is that I will be working on a sequel to Finding Valhalla. Unfortunately, that is as far as my idea goes. I have no clues on the plot yet, but I do have a character. One of my co-workers is a 6’1″ blonde of Swedish descent, and she has volunteered to be my muse. I am trying to schedule an interview with her to get some more information on her background and personality before I start writing.

The only thoughts I have right now on the plot is that I should fashion it after one of the old Norse legends. My idea for Finding Valhalla was to tell a variation of the story of Sigurd and Brynhilde. I’m currently reading up on the old stories to see if I can find another ancient tale to use. I’m open to suggestions if any of you have some ideas.

As far as my diet goes, I haven’t lost any weight yet, but at least I didn’t go up. So while the scale didn’t give me good news, it wasn’t bad news either. I’m going to be concentrating this week on making sure that next week I’ll start a downward trend.

That’s it for today. I’ll check in again on Thursday. See you then!

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