Novel Structure and a Hook

This simple structure comes from Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method of plotting a story:

sentence one: introductory sentence.
sentence two: disaster #1
sentence three: disaster #2, caused by consequences of actions taken because of disaster #1.
sentence four: disaster #3, caused by consequences of actions taken because of disaster #2,
sentence five: resolution and closing

It’s the basis of all screenplay writing and other how-to-plot materials. The introductory sentence is the statement of who and where the protagonist is now. Disaster #1 is the inciting incident, coming no more than five pages into the story, after the perfect world is set in motion. It’s called the Initiation in the Hero’s Journey. Disaster #2 is what happens when the protag responds to Disaster #2–a.k.a. the Road of Trials. This leads to Disaster #3, The Dark Night of the Soul where the protag either reaches within to find the strenght in the Shadow or we have a tragedy. The resolution plays out the results and brings the story back to where it started, the Return.

James N Frey suggests that in addition to this structure, the author needs a premise, a point that is illustrated by the story (NOT a moral tacked on to the end.) The premise gives the plot and the disasters a thread of logic and meaning–that is, if you want to write a DAMN GOOD NOVEL. Don’t we all?

So here’s my stab at this process. I have a premise, and lucky for me, the preliminary scribblings I have done do fit this premise: Gratitude is the only way out of the prison of guilt.

In this case, the imprisonment has to do with the feeling of being stuck because one is grabbing too much to try to have security–like the money with his fist caught in the jar of nuts. He won’t let go enough to let his fist out of the jar. The characters work from a sense of guilt and try to atone through magic or through controlling the magic of others.

All my characters have some guilt (or at least resentment, which is a component of guilt). this is a second novel in the series, so there is lots of baggage from the first. Set in the dimension of Faery, where the Fairy Godmother Superior manages the wishes and in some cases, the lives of the populace.

Sentence One:

The number of wishes to be granted in Faery have grown to an unmanageable proportion, so Maven is sent to recruit missing fairy godmothers to help with the overflow.

Disaster #1:

When Maven finds the first FGM on her list, she is captured and threatened with being drained of her magic, and possibly her life.

Disaster #2:

Along with the normal folk who want wishes granted, monstrous creatures–trolls, ogres, and other beasties are seeking Maven to grant their wishes, thus sucking up more magic from the realm of Faery and threatening its very structure.

Disaster #3:

d’Book, alter ego of a secondary character whose magical ability is to take magic from others captures Maven, threatening all of Faery in his bid to rule the magical world, and thereby to destroy it.

Sentence Five:

Hwo does she get out of this? Probably by not doing magic at all. Could be interesting since she’s not a ninja, or sorceress or even a halfling with a disappearing pig trick.

More later. Meanwhile, Check out Randy Ingermanson’s fiction courses!

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