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"Make no mistake, my friend, your pointless life will end, but before you go, can you look at the truth? You have a lovely singing voice."

-Morrissey, "Sing Your Life"

Monday, August 11, 2014

I’m sorry it’s taken me two weeks to come back and post the prompts for the second chapters of our novellas. How are they coming, guys? I’m feeling good about where I’m at with mine. I’ve been working on the one that will be my “track 1” novella of the four I will eventually write. I’ve got the first chapter complete (15 and a half pages) and after writing out these prompts, I have a good idea of what will happen in chapter two.

So anyway, without further delay, here are the chapter two prompts for all four tracks. You’ll note some overlap between some of the prompts. I tried to keep them different enough that if you are, like me, going to write all four and weave them into a single overarching narrative, you should be able to follow the prompts and still have distinct, unique feeling chapters. But yes, I repeated a few components that I thought were essential and/or worth repeating. Feel free to modify, combine, or flat out ignore the prompts. They’re just meant to jog you into motion. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Track 1, Step 3:

Write a chapter in which the inciting incident of the overall story arc occurs. This chapter will serve to set in motion the events that will create the arc of the entire novella.

Requirements:

1.      The chapter must be 10-20 pages long.

2.      The inciting incident in this chapter should be something small and seemingly insignificant to everyone but the main character. Based on what has been established about the character in the previous chapter, however, it should be immediately obvious to the reader why this incident matters to the character.

3.      The incident should occur when the main character is in an environment in which his or her reaction must be guarded (for example, in a public place, at work, with a loved one who would not understand the reaction, etc.).

4.      The chapter must get across the character’s initial physical reaction to the change

a.       What is the first physical thing the character does when he or she learns of the change?

5.      The chapter should hint at the character’s initial emotional reaction to the change

a.       How does this change affect the character’s perceived need?

b.      How might this change affect the character’s actual need?

Track 2, Step 3:

Write a chapter in which the inciting incident of the overall story arc occurs. This chapter will serve to set in motion the events that will create the arc of the entire novella.

Requirements:

1.      The chapter must be 10-20 pages long.

2.      The inciting incident should not appear until the end of the chapter.

3.      The chapter should consist of a series of small, escalating incidents that pave the way for the larger incident that will set the rest of the story into motion.

4.      The chapter should detail the main character’s physical and emotional responses to each escalating incident, but should leave the character’s reaction to the final, inciting incident unstated (the rest of the novella will deal with this reaction, so essentially we’re ending this chapter on a sort of cliffhanger).

Track 3, Step 3:

Write a chapter in which the inciting incident of the overall story arc occurs. This chapter will serve to set in motion the events that will create the arc of the entire novella.

Requirements:

6.      The chapter must be 10-20 pages long.

7.      The inciting incident must adhere to the following requirements:

a.       It should be out of the main character’s control

b.      It should be a large-scale change that affects many people

c.       It should have a particularly significant effect on the main character

(For example, my inciting incident for this track is that a new law is passed that has a particularly significant effect on my main character.)

8.      The character should learn of the change when he or she is in an environment in which his or her reaction must be guarded (for example, in a public place, at work, with a loved one who would not understand the reaction, etc.).

9.      The chapter must get across the character’s initial physical reaction to the change

a.       What is the first physical thing the character does when he or she learns of the change?

10.  The chapter should hint at the character’s initial emotional reaction to the change

a.       How does this change affect the character’s perceived need?

b.      How might this change affect the character’s actual need?

Track 4, Step 3:

Write a chapter in which the inciting incident of the overall story arc occurs. This chapter will serve to set in motion the events that will create the arc of the entire novella.

Requirements:

1.      The chapter must be 10-20 pages long.

2.      This chapter should follow the rule of threes: three similar incidents should occur throughout the chapter, but the first two should have a similar, fairly trivial result. The third incident should have a largely unexpected, weighty result and will set into motion the events of the rest of the story.

3.      Each of the three incidents should be set in motion by the main character. These should not be external incidents out of the main character’s control, but incidents that result from decisions that character has made.

4.      Because the first two incidents result in similar, inconsequential outcomes, the main character should not yet appreciate the full implications of the final, inciting incident at this point in the story. The reader, however, should be able to tell by the end of this chapter that the final, inciting incident in the series of three incidents will have enormous effects.

a.       This chapter, then, should make some use of foreshadowing (but with a very, very light touch, please). The chapter should end with a very subtle nod to the impending consequences of the inciting incident, but in a way that only the reader, not the main character, notices.

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