Here’s where I plotted out the first 1500 words. Of course, I would prefer it if you read those 1500 (…ish) words before you read this mess, but I ain’t the boss of you. I’ve copied Mr. Dent’s outline here, using it as a form of sorts. His words are in black, mine are in red.
FIRST 1500 WORDS
1–First line, or as near thereto as possible, introduce the hero and swat him with a fistful of trouble. Hint at a mystery, a menace or a problem to be solved–something the hero has to cope with.
The hero(s): Liz and Yates. The fistful of trouble is that these people are dying and Liz and Yates don’t want to take the case–too gross.
2–The hero pitches in to cope with his fistful of trouble. (He tries to fathom the mystery, defeat the menace, or solve the problem.)
But then people start blaming them for not taking the case, accusing them of the ratings issue.
3–Introduce ALL the other characters as soon as possible. Bring them on in action.
Other characters: Yates, Liz’s sidekick. Some victims (three college students, Yesica, Rolf, Mori2 are the ones who make the news). Pablo Brown, the revolutionary old poet (but they don’t go to him till the second 1500 words)
4–Hero’s endevours land him in an actual physical conflict near the end of the first 1500 words.
So they find all of these people dead, in this horrible way, and everyone is asking them to take the case. But they don’t want to, until their data person comes on and explains that people are starting to blame them. Still they don’t want to until they get a message from Jerena saying that they must. 3 Okay, fine, they take it but reluctantly. The young professionals and college students (one is an intern at King Corp’s media division, I think) seem to have nothing much in common — except that they were both at the same nightclub (a cool FUTURE NIGHTCLUB where everyone is listening to their own music, and you can tell who’s popular and who isn’t by who is listening to what — things move memetically across social media. Outcasts try to guess at dance moves so that people can tell who is listening to what. So for this reason, FUTURE DANCE MUSIC is fairly simplistic and beat-heavy, but very arrhythmic). 4
OKAY SO WHAT DOES LIZ THINK IT IS?
Yeah okay skip the dance club, go back to the beginning. Two people, nothing in common (an intern and a college student) have the guts gruesomely torn out, and it looks like it was self inflicted. What does Liz think? Firstly, she doesn’t believe that it was self inflicted, she thinks it’s a setup. There’s a line from an old revolutionary poet, Brown, she thinks, about tearing out the guts of (something, please make this sound good5) and so she thinks these are statement murders for attention to a cause. At this point, Yates says they should definitely quit, but Liz says they’re too far into it now.
At this point, they believe the poet is dead.
OH. So they find the thing these two have in common — they have recently been at a specific place. Our friends think that it must be an underground revolutionary sect. Only, when they get there… it’s a nightclub??
So where’s the physical conflict? 6Oh, they sneak into a back room of the nightclub, and the people listening there are listening to The Song, only Liz and Yates can’t hear it. They’re in a trance, mouthing things. Liz shakes one, and they start fighting her. They fight them off, it’s a tough fight, and then one of them starts trying to tear her own guts out. Liz hold back her hands and struggles and is confused, and she gets pretty far before they can tie her up in a car and get her to a hospital. The ambulance drivers are skeptical that Liz and Yates are doing good work.
5–Near the end of first 1500 words, there is a complete surprise twist in the plot development.
They thought the group were revolutionaries, but it turned out it was just a nightclub (see description above) and our friends have to figure out what’s really happening, and THEN they see someone tearing her own guts out.
SO FAR: Does it have SUSPENSE?
Is there a MENACE to the hero?
Does everything happen logically?
At this point, it might help to recall that action should do something besides advance the hero over the scenery. Suppose the hero has learned the dastards of villains have seized somebody named Eloise, who can explain the secret of what is behind all these sinister events. The hero corners villains, they fight, and villains get away. Not so hot.
Hero should accomplish something with his tearing around, if only to rescue Eloise, and surprise! Eloise is a ring-tailed monkey. The hero counts the rings on Eloise’s tail, if nothing better comes to mind.
They’re not real. The rings are painted there. Why?7
she says defensively↩
who the hell is Mori?↩
Jerena got cut from this story in the first draft–too much explaining. I think it works better the way it came out on the page↩
Those of you who have read the first section are wondering where all of this is. The answer, my friends, is blowing in on a Central Pillar post sometime within the next week.↩
lol i can’t↩
yes, Past Amanda. Where is it?↩
I leave this section in because it is such a ridiculous delight.↩