Archive for point of view

New Addition to Part Two, The Dragon Emperor

Posted in Sci-Fi Part 2 with tags , , , on July 29, 2017 by Dawn Ross

My content editor said if I have multiple points of view in a novel, the novel needs to begin with the main character who will make the biggest change and face the biggest challenges. Originally, I had my novel begin with Commander J.D. Hapker (or J.T. as he was called in the first draft). Then I decided Captain Robert Arden should start the book. Now that I’ve received this device from my content editor, I am trying to have the book start with Jori. Jori, after all, will face the biggest challenge. And he is the main focus of Part Two. So below is how I plan on starting Part Two. It needs some work, so any advice you have on making it better will be most welcome.

55 Cancri e

After weeks of creeping along like a kabutomushi beetle, the Dragon warship approached Thendi. The deep blue oceans of the planet caressed the edges of large reddish-brown blocks of land. Wisps of clouds dazzled the landscape like coolant on rusted metal. Glistening whiteness nestled the poles like warhead caps.

The planet appeared serene, but its peacefulness was a lie. Its people lived lives nearly as violent as the Tredon warriors, but for a different reason. Beneath the outer surface lay violent clashes of grinding plates. Sometimes their collisions scarred the land with jutting mountains of rubble. And on the other end where the plates slid apart were gashes of red, making the planet appear as though it were a living thing that had been ruthlessly stabbed.

Jori sat at one of the workstations of the Dragon’s bridge. His heart beat dully in his chest as his father’s ship crept onward. The dot of Thendi grew larger and time ticked by like a time bomb in slow-motion.

He wasn’t afraid exactly. Not of battle, anyway. He was a warrior, bred and born. And although he was only ten year-cycles old, he already exceeded the martial abilities of most full-grown warriors. Only his strength limited him. And, in this case, his resolve.

Worry gnawed his innards. Prontaean Alliance ships were undoubtedly protecting the planet. His father had said the Alliance was the enemy, but Jori was beginning to see him for what he was—a predator worse than the blackbeast who stalks the fawn because at least the blackbeast only hunted as a matter of survival.

His father, Emperor Kavak, military ruler of the Tredon-dominated worlds, sat coolly in the throne-like chair at the center of the bridge. He was far from relaxed, though. Jori didn’t need to use his ability to sense emotions to know his father was giddy with anticipation. He saw it on his face—the flared nostrils of his hawk-like nose, the firmness of his angular jaw, and the glittering of his dark eyes.

Terk, Daiichi/First Prince Kavak, Jori’s elder brother, was filled with the same anxiousness, though it was mixed with a hard determination as he manned the tactical station. At fourteen year-cycles, Terk was already nearly as tall as their father. He didn’t yet have a man’s bulk, but he was strong. His black uniform matched his dark hair, both of which seemed almost grey when compared to the darkness of his eyes.

When Terk was happy, which was rare nowadays, his eyes were brown. Today, though, they were like lumps of black tourmaline crystals.

Thendi loomed closer. Jori resisted the urge to squirm in his seat. He didn’t want to be a part of this. His worry wasn’t with the fighting, or even in the prospect of dying. It was in the killing. But he was a warrior and he would help his big brother gain back their father’s favor.

He and Terk had failed badly about two dozenals ago when their mission to the Depnaugh space station lost them their ship, crew, and the perantium device their father had wanted. Terk received the brunt of their punishment because he had been in charge. And while father blamed Terk, Terk blamed Jori. It was Jori, after all, who had manipulated the outcome.

Terk’s anger made him feel worse than anything his father did. They had been so close once. He missed it. If only things could be the way they used to be before Terk became Daiichi Prince.

To divert father’s wrath, Jori intentionally became more willful and disobedient. It worked. After Jori had received the worst beating of his life, Terk made up with him. It wasn’t the same as when they were younger, but it was enough. Now Jori stood ready to help his brother, who was helping their father kill people who didn’t deserve to be killed.

“I see two Alliance ships, My Lord,” Major Goro at the operations station said.

Jori’s father sat erect. “Zoom in.”

The viewscreen’s image lurched forward. Jori held his breath. It was a Class I Alliance Cruiser, just like the one he’d been on before. But was it the same one? He squinted his eyes, trying to see the identification numbers printed on the hull.

He let out his breath. It was a different Class I Cruiser. Not a warship, technically—the Alliance didn’t have warships—but the most advanced of all Alliance ships, with superior maneuverability and weapons that were nearly a match with the Tredon warships.

The viewscreen lurched again, this time on the other Alliance ship. Jori’s heart skipped a beat. It was the Odyssey, the one ship he was hoping not to see.

Chikusho/Shit! He should have known it would be here. The ship’s captain was no fool. Captain Arden knew what Jori’s father was after. He knew because of what happened after Depnaugh.

Jori’s extremities tingled as his blood went cold. He glanced at the bridge exit, wishing he could leave. The Odyssey was the last ship he wanted to fight. Commander Hapker, his friend, would be on it.

Well, not his friend anymore. Jori had betrayed him. And now Commander Hapker probably hated him.

Jori swallowed down the lump in his throat.

“There’s a third ship,” Major Goro said. “It’s too far to see.”

“We can assume it’s the same type,” his father said. “And we should assume there are more ships nearby. Do a full scan once shields are down.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Tell the Basilisk to get ready.” His father stepped up to the viewscreen and clasped his hands behind his back. They were within firing range of the closest Alliance cruiser and only moments away from the furthest.

Jori glanced at his console. His fingers twitched over the cloaking controls and awaited his father’s command. The pitter-patter of his heart sped up. He was about to betray Hapker again.

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Simple Steps to Writing a Novel

Posted in Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2017 by Dawn Ross

Typewriter for Writing a Story

So you have a story in your head and you suddenly feel inspired to write it. You sit down and you open a Word document. The story flashes through your head. The action, the heartache, the drama. But where do you start? How do you start? Suddenly you’re overwhelmed.

While some writers can simply start writing by the seat of their pants (called pantsers), some of us need a little more structure and guidance. If you are one of the later, here are some tips on where to begin.

Firefly Cast of Characters

Establish the Main Characters

If you’ve been thinking about your story for some time, you may already know who your characters are. You may also know things about them such as what they look like, where they work, their strengths and weaknesses, and so on. Either way, you need to create a character journal with all their information. The more important your character is to the story, the more thorough this journal should be.

Dwarves Bilbo and Gandalf in Rivendell Hobbit Movie

Establish the Setting

This is something else you might already have in mind. Creating a journal about it will help you fine tune it. A journal is also a great way to keep track of details later on as you write your story.

Set Up the Story Structure

If you’re having trouble just sitting and writing, having a story structure can help. The first structure you need to consider is the three acts basic acts that most good stories should have. The acts also help you determine your overall plot.

The first act establishes your setting and characters, and then brings about the inciting incident. The inciting incident is the event that rocks your character’s boat, the even that calls for his or her intervention. This incident can be something as simple as a death of a family member to something as cataclysmic as an explosion wiping out half a city. The second act consists of your character trying to resolve the situation only to find it’s not easy. Two steps forward, one step back. The third act contains the climax and the final wrap-up.

I have only given the basics of the three acts. If you’re having trouble with this, there are a ton of books and free online resources that can help.

Notecards for Writing a Story 001

Map Out the Outline

An outline is not the same thing as the story structure described above. The outline consists of the story structure, but it is much more detailed. It doesn’t just help you with your timeline, it also helps you establish important scenes, show you where gaps are, and gives you something to refer to as you write.

I have written an article previously on how using index cards helps me establish an outline – Outlining Your Novel with Index Cards. Make it fun with colored index cards!

Decide the Point of View

This can be a tricky one. Before you write, you really need to know how you plan on telling the story (or showing it, I should say). Here’s an article titled, Point of View Writing. It gives the basics and in an easy-to-understand way. The article states that Third Person, Limited is the most common point of view in fiction. I agree. And it is the point of view I use. I find it the easiest to use and the easiest for readers to fall into. But whichever you use, be sure you are consistent.

Decide the Tense

There are only two choices in writing tense: past tense or present tense. One would think that writing in present tense would be best because it establishes the immediacy of what’s happening. But past tense can work just as well. For some reason, I tend to do my outlines in present tense, but write my novel in past tense. Whichever you choose is fine, just be sure to be consistent. The Write Practice has another great article regarding writing in past tense versus present tense.

Book Time Clock Ticking

Write

This can still be the hardest part. But a friend and fellow writer posted something on her blog recently – Write Bravely. What does it mean? It means write and don’t worry too much about what others think. Don’t worry if your point of view or tense is off or whether you have enough descriptions in your scenes. Just write. You can worry about all that other stuff later.

If finding the time is a problem, make the time. Give up a television show or two. See if your significant other can help take up a chore or two. Even an hour a day is better than nothing. You’re story is never going to get written if you don’t make the time. Here are 10 Ways to Create More Time in Your Day.

Conclusion

Try not to look at novel as one big huge project. Big projects are easier to complete when you break them down into smaller projects. Use the headings I’ve used in this article as mini-projects. Even the heading Write can be broken down. Just take it one chapter at a time. One chapter at a time and you’ll get there. Good luck!

The Kavakian Empire – My Process for Writing a Chapter Timeline

Posted in The Kavakian Empire, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by Dawn Ross

Writing a story is not easy. Even if you have the best story idea in your head, getting it down on paper can be a tedious endeavor. One needs to keep track of and flesh out all the details, make sure there are no loopholes, have the three act structure in mind, stay focused on the plot, and so much more. I may not be the best person to tell you about structure and plot, but I believe I have a good process for writing each chapter.

1) Know where the story is going
2) Determine character motivations
3) Decide who, what, where, why, and how
4) Build a basic timeline (the when)
5) Decide point of view
6) Add more detail to timeline
7) Begin writing or go back to step 6

Know Where the Story is Going
I already know the basic outline of my story. For part two of The Kavakian Empire, we’ve seen Emperor Kavak take possession of a laser that can be turned into a deadly weapon. We saw J.T. and his crew of Alliance officers get captured while trying to stop the emperor. We know Terk and Jori want to help J.T. but since they know their father the emperor won’t allow it they have to go behind his back. We also know the emperor has a strong desire to make up for his father’s failings. And we know the Tredons are a warrior race.

Determine Character Motivations
So how far will a warrior emperor go in order to develop a deadly weapon? And how unlikely is it that J.T. and the other Alliance crew members will willingly do this for him without proper motivation?

When writing a story, it is important to understand your characters and why they do the things they do. It’s not enough to have a bad guy do bad things without understanding the reasons behind them.

Decide Who, What, Where, Why, and How
After asking myself the above questions, I decide that in chapter 5 the emperor will set a drastic tone by torturing the prisoners. In his mind, these Alliance men need to know he is serious. He doesn’t want them to sluff off from their efforts. He doesn’t want to have to deal with protestors or procrastinators.

As we saw in chapter 4, Terk is to gather the prisoners in a place on the ship called the gallery. Now that I know the what, where, and why of this scene, I need to decide who will be there and how it will be done.

* Who: All the Alliance prisoners, Emperor Kavak, Jori, Terk, and several Tredon warriors.
* How: Will they all be tortured at the same time? This doesn’t sound easy, so I decide one man (or woman) will be tortured at a time so that the others can watch. A device is wheeled in. It is basically just a metal frame with shackles hanging down where a man can be hung by his wrists. Torture can’t be too severe. The emperor has already expressed his desire to give them a “taste”.

I then ask myself if there is any other information I want to convey in this chapter. I’ve decided Jori and Terk will be expected to witness it, but will they be expected to actually participate? And if they are expected to participate, will they do as they’re told?

The When: Build a Basic Timeline
The next step is to create a basic timeline for the chapter. Try to keep plot and structure in mind. Here is my basic timeline for chapter 5:

– The Alliance prisoners will be brought into the room. Describe the room, the metal frame with shackles, and who is in the room. Try to implement other senses besides sight when describing. Smell, sound, feeling, taste?
– Emperor Kavak will lecture the men (and woman) on what is going to happen and what he expects the results to be.
– The first Alliance man is hung from the shackles. He is whipped, zapped, beaten, or all three. He cries out as the other prisoners watch. Other prisoners get their turn.
– Terk and Jori are told to administer some of the punishments.
– J.T. is tortured last and worst because he is of the highest rank.
– When it is over, the emperor gives another brief lecture.

Decide Point of View
You may have noticed that I prefer to write my story from the third person point of view. And I have different characters give their point of view at different parts of the story. In thinking about this particular chapter, I think it makes the most sense to have this chapter told from J.T.’s point of view.

Add More Detail to Timeline
Now that I have all this decided, the next thing I do is make a more detailed timeline:

– J.T. is afraid. The Alliance prisoners are made to kneel on a cold floor. The room is also cold, and it smells musty or something. One of the Alliance men is hung on the shackles. The emperor, Jori and Terk, and several Tredon warriors watch. Some watch without expression, like Jori and Terk. Some watch with gleeful anticipation and J.T. hears derisive laughter. I realize that Hanna had previously been in a separate place from the prisoners and had probably already been beaten. So I have three choices: 1) not have her in this scene, 2) have her show up with the rest of the crew and have J.T. assume she’s been raped, or 3) have J.T. reflect briefly on what he knows of Hanna. Hanna was brought to his cell earlier. She had been beaten and bruised. But she was conscious and she told J.T. that Terk helped her.
– I haven’t decided yet on what the emperor will say in this first lecture, but it will be brief.
– All the prisoners cry out from the torture. Some will even beg. I will only focus on one or two but I do not want to go into morbid detail. It will be noted that Simmonds and a few others will beg while Hanna, Harley, J.T. and a few others don’t. Hanna does not get as much of a punishment because she had already been injured by Lank.
– Jori refused to participate. J.T. sees that the emperor is angry about it but he doesn’t push the issue. J.T. sees Terk hesitate but he ultimately decides to do what his father wants. J.T. feels sorry for them both.
– When it is J.T.’s turn, he is determined not to cry out. But he is surprised at how much it hurts. He’d never been tortured before. He broke his arm once while on a hike and was left to suffer for hours before rescue came. But it was not like this. This was sharp and continuous.
– The emperor makes it clear that he has torture methods that are far worse than this, but he will hold back so long as they cooperate. He mentions a man named Alkon and gives morbid details on what Alkon will do. J.T. is sickened by what he hears and when he looks at Jori and Terk, he thinks he sees the revulsion on their faces too. It is difficult for him to tell though, because both Jori and Terk are good at keeping their faces blank.

Write the Story
I can add more detail to the timeline again if I want. Or if I think I’m ready, I can start to write in earnest. I think I’m ready to get started on this one. Is it possible that the story will change when I actually start writing it? Absolutely.

When you write, don’t feel limited to the structure of your timeline. You may find some information to be too much or too boring. You may decide a certain part isn’t necessary. Or you may find that you need much more detail than your timeline suggests. Either way, that’s okay. The timeline is just a tool to help you build structure and focus.

Every writer has their own process. So if you’re writing a story for the first time, give my method a try. If it doesn’t work for you, there are many other methods used by many other writers. Find what works best for you and write away!