Cole: A Singularity Story

I noticed the sensation of my head deep in a barrel with one hand alternating between scraping around and holding me up the first time I read this book. I’m realizing now why I don’t like some of these plots. I understand them as plots, but the author inconsistantly outlines each archetype. Rather than methodically analyze each plot and present a symbolic outline he book-reports a movie matching his idea of that plot. When he draws me into specific characters by name and situation the effort obscures the blueprint not elucidates it.


Theme – Discovery. Personal discovery not adventuring for treasure and glory.

Setup – Cole is everything you’d think a college student would be. Growing up, unsure about the future, trying to find a girlfriend, but wary of how to do any of those things.

Hook – After having a great night at a dorm sponsored end of semester bash, Cole discovers his well-meaning buddies bribed his date to go out with him.

Plot Point 1 – Cole determines to transfer schools so that he can clear the slate and find a girl without the risk of a setup, but he can’t leave till the end of the second semester without forfeiting most of his fees.

Pinch 1 – As the Spring Semester Bash approaches, Cole’s friends badger him about maybe being gay.

Mid-point Twist – Back home for Summer Break Cole meets a nice girl, Anna, working at the coffee shop he frequents. They hit it off.

Pinch 2 – Anna mentions to Cole that his mother encouraged her to befriend Cole because Mom worried he might be gay. Clearly he can’t find a girl on his own or worse.


Plot Point 2 – Cole accepts that he’s either gay and too scared to confront that situation or that he’s completely ineffectual at meeting girls and never will without help.

Conclusion – At a 10 year Homecoming Cole and friends gather for a BBQ at Cole’s home. Their married-with-kids lives contrast with his own single-guy life, but he’s comfortable with his choices.

I forced some of this into the plan I had before I wrote the Hook. Usually I save the hook for after or partly through rather than start with it populated. In this instance I populated it and immediately had a nearly different story to head down.

If I returned to this I’d examine the hook and either better craft it for leading into a more appropriate story or I’d redo the hook itself. Make these two parts match up better than they do.

431 words on day 675

A Conceptual Sacrifice

I did plot through the weekend. I wasn’t pleased with the themes of Love or Forbidden Love; I wasn’t pleased with the effort either. I didnt like some of these plots when I first read the book, and I still don’t like many of them. I’m bothered by that but don’t have time to really analyze that right now.

Theme – Sacrifice. The novel writing book references Casablanca—the movie. Eventually Tobias talks aboutA Tale of Two Cities.

Setup – Describe someone unlikely to sacrifice him or herself in a situation unlikey to generate a need for sacrifice. Sacrifice should have a hierarchical component that allows threshols of giving(up).


Plot Point 1 – Have main character make descision to change life which doesn’t at first appear to have sacrificial implications. Falling in love usually does the trick.

Pinch 1 – Tempt protagonist to abandon long held belief or put in position to make mini-sacrifice similar to one required to conclude PP2.

Mid-point Twist – Take away reward or benefit of descision made in PP1.

Pinch 2 – Sacrifice required in P1 resurfaces, but accepting doesn’t win back prize lost in MPT.

Lull – Reflecting on the sunk cost of minor sacrifice made in P2 and the loss of reward in MPT.

Plot Point 2 – Loss in MPT threatens to become permanent. Love cooled becomes love crushed; lover separated becomes lover dead.

Conclusion – Long held belief cast aside with no hope of redemption in order to protect reward’s integrity, but not reunite reward with protagonist.

Yes, conceptual—sorry about that. The effort was helpful to me despite it’s lack of specificity.

I see another version of this now that I’d not considered when I started. The protagonist could be sacrificing willingly all along the course of the plot thinking they’d be rewarded. Give a little to gain the prize; give a little more to gain it; give a lot to get it; give it all, but still get nothing in return. The sacrificer and the reward diverge throughout the story.

350 words on day 674

Red Roy

I’m not a fan of this one either as I predicted I wouldn’t be yesterday, but I do think I’ve come up with a good idea of how to work it as best I can.

Theme – Maturation

Setup – Darcy, a girl from Lawrence, Kansas, attends the University of Missouri as a nursing student. She is in a serious relationship with a young man from Virginia (he’s doesn’t appreciate her major). Neither can stay in Columbia for the summer, but neither can go to the other’s hometown (for some super valid sounding reason).

Hook – Darcy’s tearful good-bye to her college boyfriend who is returning the Virginia for the summer following Finals.

Plot Point 1 – Darcy decides she can’t spend the summer after her Sophomore year in college moping around her parents home; she joins a scout friend of hers at a summer camp in New Mexico as a camp counselor.

Pinch 1 – In a backcountry rockclimbing camp officially named Arroyo Rojo but affectionatly called ‘Red Roy’, a camper hanging a bear bag for the night slips on a rock and breaks his arm. Everyone turns to Darcy; she turns out to be so nervous as to almost worse than useless. Darcy quits her position at Red Roy, but the camp director convinces her to at least stay on at base camp in a role that won’t put her at risk of working with injuries.

Mid-point Twist – bushwhacking back to base camp for days-off, Darcy comes upon an advisor stumbling in the woods; he collapses and is unconcious before she can speak to him. She starts CPR.

Pinch 2 – Doctors arrive on scene hours later and pronounce the advisor dead.

Lull – Darcy talks with with her Red Roy friends around a campfire about the incident..

Plot Point 2 – bah!

Conclusion – I’m skipping to this part because I can’t stop the different scenes needed for all this from flooding in. I’m not sure how to organize them best to make this all work out or exactly how far back to Mizzou and Darcy’s boyfriend I need to go. If it’s maturation then is seems like I ought to get her back to school for the contrast, but i can’t figure out wear to put all the action just yet.

376 words on day 671

The Transformation of a Honga Rider

Allow me to begin with a bit of complaining. I never understood parts of this book I’ve got on plots because several sets of plots noted as distinct never struck me as such. Unfortunately I’ve hit a triple patch: metamorphosis, transformation, and maturation. I’ll forgive the literal interpretation of metamorphosis as maybe different than the other two, but I still read all three as a group meaning not much more than ‘the character changes in some way’. I suppose that Transformation is different from Maturation in the same way that girl becomes cheerleader is different from girl becomes doctor, but I think the differences are subtle.

I doubt I’ll be happy with tomorrow’s theme.

Theme – Transformation

Setup – Tyh is the 8th son of a nobody farmer; destined to be a nobody farmer himself. When apprentice honga rider Keena goes looking for help she tricks Tyh’s father into giving her Tyh.

Hook – Keena dragging Tyh into the honga pit to meet Bem and the Quartermaster.

Plot Point 1 – Tyh discovers he can telepathically communicate with the honga like a rider does and decides to find out how to become one.

Pinch 1 – a group of tyro riders catch Tyh interacting with a honga and beat him up for the audacity.

Mid-point Twist – Almost simultaneously Tyh learns he can communicate with all honga over nearly any distance and that other riders can’t.

Pinch 2 – Keena, Tyh’s sometime friend, sides with the trainer’s council against admitting Tyh to the rider program.

Lull – Tyh returns to his home; there he discovers he can’t settle for farming when he knows he should be a rider.

Plot Point 2 – Tyh returns to the honga pit to at least work out his days as a helper for the Quartermaster when the alarm for marching to war goes up.

Conclusion – sneaking into the battalion (or allowed, but as a supply line drudge) Tyh’s ability to communicate with all the hongas proves invaluable in saving the battalion from a rout.

That didn’t turn out as bad as I’d thought it would. I’m not sure I adhered to the concept of Transformation as well as I could have, but that could be worked out in the details not shown here.

380 words on day 670

Ten Beads for Iffan

When I started 1000 Days I thought I’d be pursuing work on some of my existing story thoughts. Early on a touched a couple but none seriously and none for long. Everything I did here after the first couple of months was new. Today I’m pulling up a story I’ve held for a long time but never written about or even alluded to here. There’s no reason for it; I just haven’t.

This story came to me during my Freshman year in college at the University of Kansas. A magazine, maybe Rolling Stone, had an article titled “The Selling of Tiffany”. The graphic that included the singer’s name used a block background which only highlighted the five internal letters of her name: ‘iffan’. From that I came up with the title “The Selling of Iffan”.

I don’t recall the order of what happened next, but I quickly had a second title and a second story in “Ten Beads for Iffan”. This story is the opener and “The Selling” is the closer in the couplet.

When I first read the next master plot in my book I thought it might have a figurative component, but the author insists on its literal definition. Iffan fits, and deserves to be plotted.

Theme – Metamorphosis

Setup – Iffan is cursed to live in the shadow of God’s love as a bat-like beast; his blood-lust drives him to kill. He tries to restrain his kills to just criminals. Initially I imagined he’d only speak in apposite but off beat song lyrics—like he’d taught himself to speak via a CD collection (probably wouldn’t do that now).

Meanwhile, a young boy from New Mexico packs up with his artist/photographer mother to go to New York and consequently get separated from her.

Hook – Iffan slays some hoods in a New York alley.

Plot Point 1 – Iffan mopes around New York blood-letting criminals and feeling sorry for himself when a little boy stumbles into the tail end of one of his killings. Despite his lust he’s able to restrain himself and shield the kid from the completed slaughter and from the potential beserker spill-over that would have Iffan killing the boy too.

Pinch 1 – Investigations by the police into the brutal vigilante slayings uncovers Iffan’s where abouts; they also see the boy Iffan’s been protecting. Iffan is forced to fly off with the boy to protect him from harm. The police quite rightly misinterpret this action.

Mid-point Twist – Iffan’s self-imposed moratorium on quenching his thirst comes to a violent end and the boy witnesses all of Iffan’s fury. He runs away.

Pinch 2 – Police find Iffan’s main hideout; there they discover evidence implicating him in the murder of an innocent and promoent NY politician/businessman. Before they were reluctant to put too much force into apprehending him, but now tht they know he killed an innocent they’re 100%. (lame I know).

Lull – Iffan confesses himself to a priest whom he’s about the slay for cliched reasons a priest would be need to be killed.

Plot Point 2 – Iffan finally finds the boy; rescues him from a bit of incidental peril. He resolves to return him to his mother even though it will mean getting caught most likely.

Conclusion – The cops are on him full time as he tries to return the boy to his mother. A helicopter chase through New York’s sky ensues and along the way Iffan proves himself to the boy as a good person. The cops shoot him up in a final capture scene. THe boy witnesses this and runs to Iffan’s side amidst the shooting to save him. He weeps for his friend’s immenant death and puts a beaded necklace around his neck. Through love and innocence (and 10 beads) Iffan reverts to his human form and dies peacefully. The cops discover him to be the prominent politician/businessman.

650 words on day 669

Tempting Henry

Son of a bitch, it’s February already. Which means it’s time again for my “10 Plots in 10 Days” fun.

Sure I scream and yell, but I had fun last month and expect to again this one. Grandstanding aside, I think this is the event to get me out of my cold induced doldrums. That’s right, I’m blaming my health for the crap I’ve written and posted and the crap I’ve written and not posted. Screw off.

A note about the format I follow for 10 Plots: I put the plot from Ronald B. Tobias’ “20 Master Plots and How to Build Them” down in the Theme slot. I am aware that a theme includes more than such a limited one-word scope, but I believe a theme develops during the writing of the story more than it does in the bare bones plotting, so instead of “Temptation leads to blah blah blah and ruin” my theme will simply be…

Theme – Temptation

I am desperate to avoid going meta on you here and talking about my temptations to do things other than write. WML.

Setup – A successful but lonely assassin, Henry, tries to meet other people like himself.

Hook – Obviously some characteristically establishing assassination.

Plot Point 1 – Henry has relatively begged his handlers for information on their other contractor, but they politely refuse. Left alone in an office (or something like that) he’s able to snap a grainy cell phone pic of names and assignments.

Pinch 1 – He rigs an online dating service to hook him up with one of the women on the list. She’s quite wary at their first dinner date and walks the check on him.

Mid-point Twist – Henry discovers all the people he thought were assassins were actually the marks. Which means on the list he was a mark!

Pinch 2 – While trying to do something plot-worthy Henry accidentally runs into his first dinner date and she’s feeling guilty about stranding him and comes on gushy. He falls for her, and needs to protect her.

Lull – Feeling safe in her arms in bed; they talk. After a bit, the conversation gets serious and then turns into a fight where she reveals…

Plot Point 2 – …she’s an assassin. OMG! Was he wrong about which side of the list was assassins and which side was marks? Twice?

Conclusion – They team up; avoid other shooters; make it back to the handlers’ office to confront them. And it all works out. Ta-da! I’ll need to think about this. I’m worried I’ve drifted well away from the Temptation theme and would like to pull that back in better. I’m also inclined to make the list a bit of a McGuffin here too, or a cross between a McGuffin and a Deus Ex Machina. But in a nice way.

477 words on day 668

The Gloating Scriptures

I think I’ll probably gloat.

Yesterday’s post—regardless of quality or usability—represents the second full plotting of anything I’ve written here on 1000 Days. The first was that Wolverine and Jubilee comic script I wrote for some contest.

I see that confused look on your face. You ask, “What about the first ten days of this month? What about ‘Gertrude and Grumphook’? That, those, seemed like full plottings.” Yes, but they stemmed from themselves. They were their own point. And they could have been bad and I wouldn’t have cared—7 or 8 were bad. Yesterday’s plotting means that I took something inspired by a scene and extended it outward in both directions to mount it in a beginning, middle, and end tryptich. Malachi almost made it so almost did Charming—they will yet.

I suppose I should be even happier this is the first truly novel level plotting I’ve done with my work. (Shhhh…I know it’s super-ass barebones.)

Along with the straining that went into the bits you don’t see in yesterday’s scant outline I finally resolved the cultural archetypes needed to fuel the conflict of the Terminus stories. Those archetypes fit into a neat little grid that I doodled into a notebook. Here’s the transliteration:

[guilders] – Are Settlers from Earth who have made a good life in Terminus and would like to stay (or have no idea why they should return). They control magic and produce the flight-rods which power the airships of Terminus.

[military] – Are Settlers from Earth who have made a good life in Terminus and would like to stay (or have no idea why they should return). They do not have any magic and rely heavily on the Guilders for their flight-rods to power their ships.

[priests] – Are Settlers from Earth who have struggled in Terminus and would like to return to their homes and Families on Earth. They control magic, but focus their efforts upon the Outbound Spell rather than commerce.

[aboriginals] – Are the displaced people indigenous to the world in which Terminus resides. They used to have magic and would like it and their lost magicians returned. They are not incapable fighters, but the Settler interlopers, despite their minority, have the advantage.

Two groups with magic; two without. Two groups who’d like to stay; two who’d like them gone.

This leaves plenty of room for other minor groups who haven’t decided which way to fall or who play off the tensions between the others.

My shortfalls here are the hows. How will the Aboriginals oust the Military? How will the Guilders quell the Priests? How will the Priests recruit the Aboriginals? How will the Military gain independance from the Guilders?

448 words on day 661