Planning a Trilogy List Updated

A week or so ago I put together a list to help me organise, and stay focused, on Planning a Trilogy. That list has now been updated to include a couple of things that had previously been forgotten.

Unfortunately, I am unable to cross anything off the list at present, but I have made some progress. I am developing my list of characters (for book 1, at least). I have a vague concept of what books 2 and 3 may be about. I’ve been thinking about themes and premises for all three books, and the trilogy as a whole. And the history, which I intend to write in short story form, is bubbling away nicely in my mind.

Although I haven’t much to show for the time spent on this planning, things are happening and that’s what counts!

I am using TiddlyWiki to organise my planning.

Book Review: The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Boleyn Inheritance is the sequel to a book I reviewed last week called The Other Boleyn Girl. Both books are fiction based on the court of King Henry VIII.

The sequel is written differently from the first book. At first, I didn’t like the change all that much, but I soon fell into the “voice” of the writer and the personalities of the characters and found myself totally absorbed. In a lot of ways, I found The Boleyn Inheritance to be better than The Other Boleyn Girl. I enjoyed both books, the storylines are realistic (which they should be as they are based on history) and sometimes quite gruesome, but The Boleyn Inheritance had something different that made it stand out, for me.

The difference, in my opinion, was the clear personalities that came out in the writing. Three women, three personalities, three situations that entwine. I felt like I was reading the personal diary of each woman, which made the experience more enjoyable (and shocking). And, because I was looking down on these women from above, but also seeing what was happening from within their minds, I was captivated.

One of the women was in both books. In the first book, we saw her as a conniving, sneaky bitch. There was no way you would trust her with anything, especially your life. Yet in the second book, this same woman came across as sweet and innocent, but feeling mistreated (and this was why I didn’t like the book to begin with; I found it confusing). But then I realised that when we (all humans) do something wrong, we always try to justify our actions and find reasons why what we did wasn’t as wrong as everyone believes. We don’t see ourselves as conniving, sneaky bitches (or bastards). We see ourselves as an innocent by-stander, as a person who has been wronged and mistreated, as a person who is misunderstood. When I realised this, I was able to accept the difference in the personalty and this allowed me to appreciate the story a whole lot more.

There was repetitiveness in each of the storylines, but I believe this was done on purpose to drive home the personalities and the reasons for the women’s actions. Although this did annoy me at times, I tried not to let it spoil the book. We all have our little habits that we are unaware of (most of the time), but other people find annoying. I like to believe that the repetitiveness was showing this to a small degree.

Again, the book is fiction but I know the timeline is as accurate as it can be when compared to the real events (I did some research of my own to check). The author has used creative license to build a story around known events. I think she did a good job and have enjoyed reading both books. If you like historical fiction, then I recommend them.

WordPress Updated & Plugins Added

During the past week I’ve been messing with the internal works of this website. WordPress has been upgraded to the latest version (2.8), all the plugins have been upgraded and new plugins have been added – including Not Another Related Posts Plugin and Link Checker Plugin.

After seeing CommentLuv on Benjamin Solah’s Website, I thought I’d install it here too. If you leave a comment and enable the plugin, a link to the last post on your own blog will be included at the end of your comment. I think, however, that you have to register your blog with CommentLuv for this to work.

Last night, I spent an hour or so changing another aspect of the blog. I got rid of the html front page found at “Home” and used WordPress to create a static front page. It was quite easy to do, despite my worry that I might crash the whole site permanently. The result was that I had exactly the same home page that I’ve always had, but it meant that I could edit it with ease (without having to wait until I had access to a text editor and ftp uploader). However…it also meant that I no longer had access to what I consider to be the main part of the website – the blog. This page, as you see it now, was no longer available. To reach the posts it would have been essential to have the categories listed in the sidebar and I believe I would have had to include another new plugin to show the latest posts as well. I didn’t like it. Not in the slightest. And…everything has been put back to how it was originally. 😀

The two previous posts announcing some of the things I’ve mentioned in this post have been deleted. I think I’ve finished messing around with things now, except I’ve discovered (through the Link Checker Plugin) that I have a lot of images that are “broken”, as well as some external links that need checking. I’ll get on to that shortly.

Planning a Trilogy

While Mirror Image is out being read by someone else, I find myself with some time to spare so I thought I’d plan the planning of a fantasy trilogy I want to write. The first book is pretty much fully formed in my head and I know the characters extremely well, so this shouldn’t be too difficult to do. However, being a planner, I’ve decided to make a list of the things that need to be done as I think it will make the process easily overall.

This is my current list (which is subject to change):

1. Work out the general concept of the trilogy as a whole. (This includes a one sentence blurb, a theme and a premise; and the threads that will stretch across the three books.)

2. Use the three act structure to plan my point plots, inciting incident, and the general structure of the entire trilogy.

3. Work out the general concept of book 1.

4. Use the three act structure to plan my point plots, inciting incident, and the general structure of book 1.

5. Work out the general concept of book 2.

6. Use the three act structure to plan my point plots, inciting incident, and the general structure of book 2.

7. Work out the general concept of book 3.

8. Use the three act structure to plan my point plots, inciting incident, and the general structure of book 3.

9. Work on the character profiles for all three books. (This includes their storylines and motives.)

10. Finalise world building aspects. (This includes maps and names of cities, towns, rivers, mountains, etc; religion and superstition; clothing and hair styles; living standards, including homes, food, way of life; modes of transport; medicines available; time structure; enemies and allies; politics; etc.)

11. Create a system for the use of magic (includes who can use it and what it will cost them).

12. Finalise all research material required.

13. Plan how many chapters I’ll need for each book and position the abovementioned plot points accordingly. (This includes having a rough idea what will happen in each chapter, what the conflict is and what each character’s motivation is.)

14. Write a detailed history in short story format. (This will include narrative and dialogue and will give me a firm idea of what “went before”.)

15. Start writing book 1.

16. Write a synopsis for books 2 and 3.

17. Submit a proposal for all three books.

I’m not sure if the order is what I’ll work to. At this stage I just want a list of what I intend to do. I will cross them off the list as I do them. Everything for book 1 will be done without a lot of stress, but I can’t say the same about the two other books. We’ll see what happens there.

No matter what happens. I want to have three solid plans for three solid books before I start writing a single word. I want to know the world, the characters and the plots inside out. And when I have all that planned then, and only then, will words appear on the page. My intention is to write, edit and polish the first book and then find a publisher for it. I will not write the other two books until the first book is sold. That might sound strange, but I feel there’s no point slogging myself to death on one project if I can’t find a home for the first book. When the first book is sold, then I will write the other two books. At least I’ll have in-depth plans in place for both of them…and if book one is with a publishing house then I’ll have the added incentive of publication to spur me on.

This begins the planning of a trilogy called The Kingdom of Marlinor.

Edited on 22 June 2009 to include last two points.

Edited on 30 June 2009 to include the creation of magic.

Thanks but No Thanks

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post, for once again Cat’s Eyes has been rejected. I’m pretty sure this one was a form letter, but it did say that they didn’t think the story was “strong enough” for representation by them. By “them”, I mean Curtis Brown Australia.

That’s two marks against “not strong enough”. Maybe that’s the standard reply these days, which would mean it means nothing. But, maybe it means exactly what it means. I don’t know. I’ll be keeping tabs in the future.

Oh well, I’ll add this rejection to the others and submit it again. I’m not sure where or when, but I do know it will be soon and somewhere. I’ll keep you informed.

Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

My review
rating: 4 of 5 stars

I belong to a reading community called Goodreads – you may have noticed their widgets in the right sidebar announcing to the world what I’m reading and what I have read. Part of this community is having access to book reviews. I thought it might be a useful tool when trying to decide what I’m going to read in the future and for finding authors I haven’t read before. However, I find that readers are critical creatures and they throw many daggers without feeling anything remotely remorseful. Some of the comments are disturbing. Some are just plain stupid. Others are trying to outdo the rest of them. This leaves only a handful of comments that I might “listen” to. It’s almost as if it is fashionable to rubbish every book picked up by a human hand; and by “rubbish” I mean be as nasty as possible. And, because of this, I find the reviews not in the least bit helpful and have decided to ignore all of them (except those written by a select few, my friends). I will continue to use Goodreads as I like being able to have a permanent record of the books I’ve read and what I thought of them.

Anyway, I finished reading The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory yesterday. It is fiction based on the court of Henry VIII. The important word in that last sentence is “fiction”. I think a lot of people tend to forget that this is NOT a biography, it is only a story. The author has taken some well known events, such as the beheading on Anne Boleyn, and then has decided which version of events she wanted to write about and built a story around them.

Reading this book made me want to research the true events and, from my quick research, I discovered that the timeline was as accurate as it could be because no one knows exactly when the Boleyn sisters were born or if Mary’s two older children were in fact the king’s. They are not sure which sister was the eldest. There is a rumour that Mary had another son. There are conflicting stories about most of the period so the author of this book has made a decision and stuck with it. I commend her. She has made an interesting story out of muddled events. I know that she has used creative licence in many places throughout the book to fill in gaps and smooth out uncertainties. And I commend her for that too because she did a good job.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a good story. It stirred my curiosity enough to make me research the real people. There were parts that felt a bit long winded and repetitive, but there were a lot of years to get through and these sections (or scenes) were short. When I wasn’t reading, I found myself thinking about the characters and setting, and looking forward to seeing what would come next. I enjoyed the story enough to pick up The Boleyn Inheritance (the sequel) immediately after finishing the book and continued reading (which is something I never do as I prefer to have a short break, at least, between volumes).

History buffs will only enjoy this book if they remember it is fiction. If they want the facts then they should be reading non-fiction. Everyone else will have mixed reactions, because as humans we all have different tastes. I enjoyed the book and will recommend it.

And…the sequel is shaping up to be better!

Mirror Image: Positive Feelings

When I left the train this morning, I did so knowing that the third edit of Mirror Image had been completed. There is something about this manuscript that makes me feel quite positive. I believe it has a lot to do with the theme, which I haven’t publicly shared as yet, but I have a strong feeling this manuscript will be well received by agents. Of course, the standard of my writing will then have to carry it to higher places, such as to the desk of an editor of a publishing house.

When I read what I’ve just written, my first instinct is to cringe and think to myself that I’m vain for thinking such things and I could be sorry I wrote this post at some time in the future. Yet, I’m not a stupid person and I am not vain. It is simply a matter that I truly and wholly believe in this manuscript. I know there is a market for it. The truth of the matter is that it will all come down to two things…1) my writing, and, 2) the cover letter, which I wrote months ago.

There is a quote on my desk calendar today that reads:

“Ideas often flash across our minds more complete than we could make them after much labour.” La Rochefoucauld

How fitting that saying is when I compare it to the cover letter for Mirror Image, where the wording flashed across my mind at the strangest of moments and I had the sense to quickly write those words down. It was complete in a matter of minutes, when I would normally labour for days or weeks over a letter of such importance.

They say you must grab the reader’s attention straight away. Well this letter does that with the first sentence. I know it absolutely. If I were ever to doubt anything (and I do, often) it certainly would never be this letter.

But I jump ahead of myself. First the manuscript must be polished and then polished some more. The third edit is done and I’m really happy with what I have, so it is time to give it to a reader and see what happens from there. Just as I know that my cover letter is perfect, I also know that the reader will have plenty to say once he has read the manuscript. I predict that he will try and persuade me to change certain aspects of the story (and I know exactly which ones), but I will remain strong and focused (unless he can convince me otherwise). I look forward to his feedback. In fact, I crave it.

I feel excited. I am working on something that means a lot to me. I have poured my heart and soul into this manuscript and I feel…that I am on the right road. It is a good feeling.

The Reading World

Since becoming a commuter, I have discovered something about my reading habits that I didn’t know beforehand. Previously, I read a lot of young adult fiction (and even books for younger readers). I thought I did this because I enjoyed this type of book the best, but I have discovered that I was wrong in my thinking.

Now that I have a two hour time slot set aside for reading each afternoon (five days a week), I no longer find myself gravitating towards books for younger people. I’m picking up, and enjoying, books for adults. I realise that I read the other books for two reasons: 1) I do enjoy them, and 2) it was more likely I’d finish the thinner book for young people than the thick book for adults because I didn’t have time to do a lot of reading.

Time was the issue, not my preference of book.

I also believed that I had an issue with concentration, but the last month or so has proven that totally wrong. When choosing a book to read, I find myself looking at my bookshelf with new interest. There is plenty of time to read now and I want to make the most of that time. I want to read all the books I’ve collected over the years. Those books teased me into buying them for whatever reason and now I have the time to consume and enjoy them. It’s brilliant! Whereas if I had tried to read those thick books when I first bought them I would have rushed them and found fault with all of them because of the time restraints. I am a slow reader and I would have been frustrated.

600 pages would have taken me three or four months to read. No wonder I didn’t enjoy them. Now they take me just over a week. That’s a huge difference. I’m enjoying new stories all the time, new characters, settings, plots, genres. At the risk of repeating myself, it’s brilliant!