Writing “Blood Ties” Part Three: Hashing out a Storyline

We had the idea, but where did we go from there? Great question. To start things off, we had agreed that each of us should do a profile for a few of the important characters. We had hammered out an extremely basic outline (which I won’t give away) and decided that we needed to know the characters better before going any further. I see it not like a giant Tetris puzzle but more like one of those block puzzles where you move the blocks around to make a channel for a ball to exit, only instead of using the preset blocks, you’re shaping, sizing, placing, and moving ones of your own design. Once we had the basics of the characters (which are totally unrecognizable from what they are now), we were able to move on with the story.

We knew the basics of what we wanted. The book needed to have several concepts. One was about how a society adjusts after ending a “long” war in which societal barriers are broken. Another was how a son who is strong in his own right escapes from the shadow of his extremely powerful father. Another was how far people are willing to go to protect the past they think is perfect or enter the future they believe to be better. One quick word to the wise: NONE OF THESE ARE OR WERE POLITICAL!

Anyway…we had our themes, so the challenge was to hash them out into a storyline. The way we chose to do it was to sit down and scribble out a few paragraphs of where we each wanted to go. We developed some of the themes around the characters and tried tying them together. This did not work well. We tried bouncing basic ideas around involving the themes and how to make them go further. This did not go well either. If profit is in the process, we earned our keep during that time because, well, damn…it was hard. Success finally came when we started off with a basic premise and a basic ending place and tried moving the characters through the story. The characters drove the story, and we hit our stride. Things moved easier after that…much, much easier. This is when we realized we were on to something for sure. We cared about the characters so much that they actually told us what they wanted to do. It’s like they spoke to us and told us where they wanted to go next. I knew Shannah would do this because we had developed her character. Riordan didn’t speak like that, so he wouldn’t do this, right…but his friend Sean would. Ainseal didn’t speak like that, he spoke with more authority. Ainseal evolved and a new character was created to take his place. On it went, and we finally had an outline. Once we had that, we didn’t really stray, we just kept refining and refining until we had something we liked, something that felt true and real.

Tomorrow for Part 4, I’ll discuss character creation, evolution, and finding their voice.

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