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2011 Write-a-Thon, Week 1

June 26, 2011

Hello, friends of Clarion!  Today marks the beginning of the 2011 Clarion Write-a-Thon. The Write-a-Thon is a way for writers who are not able to attend Clarion to feel part of the team and to take several weeks out of the summer to focus on their own writing goals.  For the next six weekends, the Clarion Blog will be featuring posts aimed at our 127 officially participating writers, as well as anyone else who wants to join in the fun.  We will give small writing and fundraising challenges to spur you on, as well as giving you space in the comments section to talk about your progress toward your own individual goals.

For over forty years, the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop has been a renowned rite of passage for ambitious writers of speculative fiction, and in tough times the Clarion Foundation has risen to the challenge of preserving the tradition with the help of its alumni and other supporters.  Last year was our inaugural Write-a-Thon, and its success cemented our plans to use this as a yearly event to replace funding lost to the California budget crisis.  Clarion has always survived on small donations from a large number of people, and the Write-a-Thon has focused that effect by using matching grants and other strategies to magnify the impact of even the most modest donations.  A huge thank you to all of you who involved yourself this year or last year.  Clarion owes its future to you!

Week 1 Writing Challenge

For those who do not yet have concrete writing goals of your own, we at the blog would like to offer you up a series of goals to focus you over the summer.  Next week Monday through Friday, we’d like you to turn your attention to that novel you’re writing.  Not writing one?  Well, now you are.  As memorable as short stories can be, the economic lifeblood of science fiction, horror and fantasy is the fans’ continuing love affair with novel-length fiction.  Whether you do or do not have a novel in the works at this point, this challenge applies to you!  Please answer the following questions regarding your novel, and if you’re not too shy or territorial, why not share them with other writers in the comments section?  This questionnaire is meant to focus your writing and give you the basic structure that even the most outline-phobic needs to shorten the time between first draft and finished manuscript.

  1. Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel?  (We will call this person the hero.)
  2. Describe your hero in five words or less.
  3. What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over?  (We will call this the goal.)
  4. Describe this goal in ten words or less.
  5. What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? (We will call this the primary obstacle.)
  6. Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less.
  7. What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? (We will call this person the antagonist.)
  8. Describe your antagonist in five words or less.
  9. Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.*
  10. Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus.
  11. Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle.
  12. Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description.
  13. Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12?  List them here by name.
  14. List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13.

Having trouble with this questionnaire?  If so, you may run into trouble selling your novel.  Bring your problems to the table and let’s look at them.  Perhaps the solutions are closer than you think.

*If you can’t do this as is, rephrase the answer slightly to remove any proper nouns or universe-specific details.  If you still can’t do it, ask yourself why this hasn’t been done before in a century or more of speculative fiction.  Might there be more to it than “I am the first person to think of it?” These are only questions – only you know the answer.  But be certain you are honest with yourself.

Week 1 Fundraising Challenge

Send a message to every blood or “in-law” relative whose email address you have on file.  Ask them, as a group, to support you in your summer writing goal.  Let them know that $5 is more than enough to spur you on, and provide a link to the Clarion Write-a-Thon donors’ page.  Be sure to let them all know exactly how your name is listed on the site, so they can find you more easily!

 

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40 Comments leave one →
  1. Liz Argall permalink
    June 26, 2011 7:19 am

    Thanks Mishell, you’re fantastic.

    A quick note from the web team – the official number’s going to grow by at least one person, maybe a few more. The info on the form says “You can sign up any time between now and June 26, 2011.” I know I forgot what “between” meant and remembered June 26 as a deadline. So in case you have a brain like mine we’ll keep the doors open for the full June 26 if you want to slip yourself in.

    If you’re having any technical difficulties please contact us at webmaster@theclarionfoundation.org

  2. Mishell Baker permalink*
    June 26, 2011 7:32 am

    Oh, fantastic news, Liz! Guess it’s not too late to join the fun, readers! :-)

    • Liz Argall permalink
      June 29, 2011 12:17 pm

      And wow, these folks are fantastic. Look at all those comments. Now that registrations are done and I’m making good progress on my Love Letters to Inanimate Objects I hope I can join in the novel analysis fun (if not this week then next!)

  3. Kari T permalink
    June 26, 2011 9:13 am

    Hmm… OK, I’ll respond. But I admit, this exercise was quite thought provoking and I doubt I’m finished with my answers.

    1. MC – Jonathon Behrens. (This is historical fantasy so I won’t use these details, but in my mind I know Jonathons was born 1654 in what is today Jakartal is Dutch, educated, and great uncle was Governor General of nascent VOC.)
    2. Hero in 5 words: Conscientious, well-mannered, mollifying, patriarchal, predictable
    3. Novel is over when Jonathon confronts and over comes the reason for his mother’s hold over him
    4. Goal in 10 words: Overcomes aversion to aggression and embraces inner warrior
    5. Obstacle: He can’t embarrass his mother or risk losing her support
    6. obstacle in 10 words: Needs mother’s family name and inheritance to get by in life
    7. Antagonist: Mother’s jilted fiance.
    8. Antagonist in 5 words: resourceful, ruthless, resentful, influential, patient
    9. Similar books (note: I’m influenced by literature more than sci fi): Elsa in The Big Rock Candy; Humphrey in The Sea Wolf; Buck in the Call of the Wild
    10. Similar conflicts: Scarlett O’Hara, ‘Gone with the Wind’; Buck, ‘Call of the Wild’; the Father in ‘The Road’.
    11. similar obstacles: Skeeter, ‘The Help’; Can’t think of any more but prince edward giving up throne to marry Wallace Simpson is an influence
    12. Similar antagonist: Spitz, ‘Call of the Wild’; Snape, ‘Harry Potter series’;
    13. Call of the Wild
    14. Differences with Call of Wild: In the end Buck leaves civilization for good to be wild, my character becomes a bridge between the wild and civilization. Buck gives up his civil ways for wild ways, my character maintains his civility but adapts his outlook. Buck ‘regresses’, my character ‘progresses’.

    • June 27, 2011 10:06 am

      Hello, Other Kari. There aren’t all that many of us outside of Scandinavia; it’s always fun when a Kari turns up.

  4. June 26, 2011 9:38 am

    Hello! Answers to 1-8 over here: http://ekmisao.dreamwidth.org/61035.html

    I’m a little concerned about how well I’ll be able to answer questions 9-14. For now I’ve only read a good number of the established sci-fi classics and not enough fantasy. I know, there’s my problem right there. (sigh.)

    • Mishell Baker permalink*
      June 26, 2011 9:42 am

      Aha! You have just hit on one of the points of the exercise! :-) Time to make a reading list! Check with friends and see what they recommend.

      • June 27, 2011 8:22 pm

        Part 2 answers here: http://ekmisao.dreamwidth.org/61565.html

        I had to resort to turning to other media for the answers. Still, it helped me notice that my main characters threaten to continue their stereotypes if I don’t intervene. In that respect it was still very helpful.

  5. June 26, 2011 11:12 am

    1:Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? Abdal Aswad

    2:Describe your hero in five words or less. Angry, unpredictable, tenacious, honourable and conflicted

    2:What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? When he is finally able to avenge the death of his family.

    4:Describe this goal in ten words or less. Kill the rage that lies within him.

    5:What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? He needs to find the man he associates with the death of his family.

    6:Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less. How do you find an abstract ideal?

    7:What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? Himself.

    8:Describe your antagonist in five words or less. Same as how I described the hero.

    9:Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words. Game of Thrones, Dread Empire,

    10:Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus. I cannot think of any off the top of my head. I’m sure there are some. Wheel of Time series could be close to that.

    11:Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle. The Hyperion books are quite close to what I have.

    12:Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description. I have not read a book where the hero is his own antagonist.

    13:Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name. None.

    14:List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13. It is unique in my mind? I have read countless hundreds of books, and I am determined to make one unlike any other. I know there will be some similarities to other books, but I am trying the hardest I can!

  6. June 26, 2011 12:02 pm

    My answers are over here: http://corporeal-punk.blogspot.com/2011/06/clarion-day-1.html

    Ah, how I hate writing homework, but I must resign myself to know this is actually useful!

  7. June 26, 2011 5:05 pm

    Good way to throw two stones into the web, put on the blog! THANKS!

  8. June 26, 2011 7:05 pm

    Quite the challenge, right out of the gates. :D It seems I have some research to do… I can’t be the first person to think of this idea, but my inital amazon searches have failed me. Will report back when I have more. :O

  9. June 26, 2011 8:01 pm

    Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? (We will call this person the hero.) Corrine “Cori” J.
    Describe your hero in five words or less. A leading black female superhero!
    What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? (We will call this the goal.) She has to accept the fact that she will probably never be normal, she has to accept her abilities and powers, seek the truth about who she really is AND save others, probably the world.
    Describe this goal in ten words or less. Accept her destiny.
    What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? (We will call this the primary obstacle.) She was ridiculed for being different her whole life so she actively strives to keep herself from being different and acknowledging her powers, but worse than that her parents kept a big secret from her not to mention that the road to finding out who she is is difficult and there are so many twists and turns and the danger!
    Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less. She doesn’t believe she is strong enough to overcome.
    What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? (We will call this person the antagonist.) Herself.
    Describe your antagonist in five words or less. She’s her own worst enemy.
    Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.* Ok, I don’t really KNOW any sf&f novels that have leading black female superheros (not to say that there aren’t any, I just don’t know about them). So I don’t know. I don’t know. All I can say is, I’ve been reading novels all my life of this nature and I’ve never come across any that have been written from a perspective of a black author or black leading character in this type of sense. And if I do read a novel by a black author, it is always about drugs, crime, hardcore violence, sex, etc. I’ve never had a character I could connect with fully growing up (because I read the more mainstream novels and- not the “African-American” novels- which rarely have black people in them anyway) so my main motivation is to write a novel from the perspective of a black chick (whilst writing as a black woman). I’m not saying I’m the first that’s just my PERSONAL inner motivation.
    Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus. Like, almost all of them? Harry Potter, Uglies trilogy, The Mediator series.
    Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle. Harry Potter somewhat.
    Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description. I’m going to go for HP again since I can’t really think of anything else.
    Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name. HP
    List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13. Ok, mine is different because it is not about magic, it is about abilities that actually could be possible. My settings are real-world.

  10. June 26, 2011 8:03 pm

    I so need to do more research on my sf&f novels…although I think mine will be more YA paranormal than sf&f.
    :( Sigh.

    That was tough!

  11. Ahmed Al-Sheikh permalink
    June 26, 2011 10:52 pm

    Just a quick check-in, I’ve revised one chapter… only 7 (assuming I don’t need to change that) to go

  12. Ahmed Al-Sheikh permalink
    June 27, 2011 12:25 am

    Also, I did the questionnaire and my big thing is… I can’t think of novels that are similar. I can think of things in other media, but not novels.

    • Mishell Baker permalink*
      June 27, 2011 7:02 am

      My gut response would be that you have more reading to do! :)

      • Ahmed Al-Sheikh permalink
        June 27, 2011 11:05 am

        Ha, ha. -_-
        I read plenty, but like I said, I just can’t connect the way I write to the books I read.

  13. June 27, 2011 5:50 am

    8.Describe your antagonist in five words or less.

    Hmmm … “Honorous Jorg Ancrath is very-”

    damn, that’s harder than it looks…

    • Mishell Baker permalink*
      June 27, 2011 7:07 am

      …Mark Lawrence, everyone. Buy his novel in August.

      *affectionately shoos the smart-aleck Brit from the thread*

  14. June 27, 2011 7:58 am

    Hi people, I also posted my answers on my blog http://tengeri.blogspot.com/2011/06/clarion-blog-week-1.html

  15. Joanne Huspek permalink
    June 27, 2011 8:09 am

    I like these kinds of exercises. It opens the writer up to delving deeper beyond the facade.

    1. Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? Cadence Reed
    2. Describe your hero in five words or less. Beaten down with heroic heart.
    3. What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? Cadence “finds” herself. Cornball and cliche, I know.
    4. Describe this goal in ten words or less. Her past is a lie; she chooses a true future.
    5. What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? Her heart is broken over the actions of her now-dead husband. Then she finds out she has no money.
    6. Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less. Husband dead, grief-stricken, no money, must forge a future.
    7. What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? Since the husband is dead, the biggest obstacle is an internal struggle.
    8. Describe your antagonist in five words or less. Husband: Slimy, slick, charismatic sociopath.
    9. Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.* A WOMAN’S PLACE by Barbara Delinsky, IN A PERFECT WORLD by Laura Kasischke, MRS KIMBLE by Jennifer Haigh
    10. Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus. A WOMAN’S PLACE, MRS KIMBLE, THE MAP OF TRUE PLACES by Brunonia Barry
    11. Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle. A WOMAN’S PLACE, ONE SEASON OF SUNSHINE by Julia London
    12. Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description. A WOMAN’S PLACE, IN A PERFECT WORLD
    13. Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name. A WOMAN’S PLACE
    14. List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13. I like how the MC overcame her problem at the end of AWP, but the ending was rather sweet (it is a romance, so I get it). I’m afraid my ending is way more gritty.

  16. June 27, 2011 9:03 am

    What fun. Let’s see:

    1. Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? (We will call this person the hero.)

    Freddy Duchamp, a 14-year-old girl.

    2. Describe your hero in five words or less.

    Practical, angry, clever, quiet, cowardly.

    3. What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? (We will call this the goal.)

    Freddy has to figure out the truth behind what is going on (leaving aside the easy and obvious answer) and convince both herself and her stepbrother Roland that she not only understands the problem but can be trusted to provide the solution.

    4. Describe this goal in ten words or less.

    Things aren’t what they seem. Grow up; figure it out.

    5. What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? (We will call this the primary obstacle.)

    Freddy’s tendency not to want to make waves combines with her tendency to reject the seemingly impossible and keeps her both from acting and from realising she NEEDS to act.

    6. Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less.

    Denial is holding you back, kid. Fix it.

    7. What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? (We will call this person the antagonist.)

    Freddy herself, aided and abetted by her kind-of-friend Josiah, who really doesn’t want her to discover the truth. Let’s go with Josiah for the sake of variety.

    8. Describe your antagonist in five words or less.

    Logical, hypocritical, sarcastic, audacious, blunt.

    9. Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.*

    A Game of Thrones (Martin), Tris’s Book (Pierce), The Thief (Turner). I realise the first one is kind of cheating, but I’m mainly thinking of Sansa Stark.

    10. Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus.

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling), So You Want to Be a Wizard (Duane), The Thief (Turner).

    11. Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle.

    The Neverending Story (Ende), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling), The Witches (Dahl).

    12. Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description.

    A Game of Thrones (Martin), Artemis Fowl (Colfer), The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Adams).

    13. Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name.

    A Game of Thrones and The Thief. Also, if I want to be honest, I’ve listed two Harry Potter novels.

    14. List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13.

    A Game of Thrones: Heh…”stark” contrast. Martin’s novel is a sweeping epic, a multifaceted story with many important characters and a morally complex outlook. My novel is a YA story about a fourteen-year-old girl who finds herself forced to defend her family but is hindered by an unexpected trip through time. I am intrigued by the fact that there are nonetheless similarities between the two.

    The Thief: Turner’s wonderful book gives us a flawed protagonist who manages to hide who and what he is from the other characters AND the reader. Freddy, on the other hand, is a flawed protagonist who manages to hide who and what she is from herself, though everybody else has an easier time figuring it out.

    Harry Potter: Harry and Freddy share both the basic need to sleuth and a propensity for denial. However, Harry’s denial tends to be built around the way he really, really wants the universe to work, whereas Freddy is more willing to shift her perception of the universe when presented with proof that the shift is necessary.

    • Kari T permalink
      June 27, 2011 10:25 am

      HI there, fellow Kari!!! how funny- I’m from Minnesota, and have scandinavian ancestry. Maybe that’s why my parents spelled it that way!

      I enjoyed reading your summary, very descriptive and I could ‘feel’ the story.
      Take care, kari

      • June 27, 2011 10:59 am

        I’m from Vancouver, but I have some relatives in Minnesota, so I know what you mean. My family (Norwegian/Swedish/Irish ancestry) also spelled my name the Scandinavian way on purpose. We pronounce it the Scandinavian way, or a reasonable approximation thereof, rather than using the more usual North American pronunciation of “Carrie.” Basically, I pronounce my name the same way as the babysitter in The Incredibles does.

        I enjoyed your summary as well. You were brave to go first. Hurrah!

  17. June 27, 2011 4:23 pm

    1.) Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? (We will call this person the hero.)
    For my novel, the character who drives the novel the most is Alexandria Tylersen. Kian Tylersen and Emma von Björn contribute a fair bit, but Alexandria is the major force.
    2.) Describe your hero in five words or less.
    Strong, emotionally scarred, observant and protective.
    3.) What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? (We will call this the goal.)
    For my audience to know that the novel is over, Alexandria must escort Emma from one city to another, ten days away.
    4.) Describe this goal in ten words or less.
    Get the girl from point A to point B.
    5.) What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? (We will call this the primary obstacle.)
    Alexandria can’t accomplish her goal right away because others want to kidnap and then kill Emma because she is the key to achieving their political goals.
    6.) Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less.
    A literal meaning for the phrase “bloody politics”
    7.) What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? (We will call this person the antagonist.)
    The antagonist for my novel is Lord Ganee, who orchestrates the attempts on Emma’s life as well as a few others’ lives.
    8.) Describe your antagonist in five words or less.
    Relentless, patient, a planner.
    9.) Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.
    Kushiel’s Dart – Jacqueline Carey; If I Pay Thee not in Gold – Mercedes Lackey and Piers Anthony; Rhapsody – Elizabeth Haydon.
    10.) Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus.
    Kushiel’s Avatar – Carey; Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien; Faded Sun trilogy – C. J. Cherryh
    11.) Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle.
    Kushiel’s Chosen- Carey; Faded Sun trilogy – Cherryh; If I Pay Thee not in Gold – Lackey/Anthony.
    12.) Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description.
    Sword of Truth Novels – Terry Goodkind; If I Pay Thee not in Gold – Lackey/Anthony; The Dragonbone Chair – Tad Williams.
    13.) Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name.
    If I Pay Thee not in Gold; the Faded Sun trilogy; in the interest of being honest with myself all the Kushiel books should be listed here under Kushiel’s Legacy for all that one described one aspect and other aspects fell to different books it’s the same series.
    14.) List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13.
    The system of magic and the culture is wildly different in my novel compared to If I Pay Thee not in Gold. Also, the antagonist is not acting in response to some perceived political threat; he is the political threat.
    As for the contrast between my novel and the Faded Sun Trilogy, the easy answer is Fantasy versus Science Fiction. Beyond that, my novel deals with the transportation of a single woman rather than the remnants of an entire people and the identity of the antagonist is unknown to the hear as opposed to known.
    The stark contrast between my novel and Carey’s Kushiel Legacy series is a matter of how the hero obtains her information. Also, Alexandria is more of a front-line fighter than Carey’s Phèdre is.

  18. June 28, 2011 1:23 am

    Okay, here goes. Since several of the questions do not pertain to my book, I will stick to the questions that can be answered.

    My next book does not have a character as it is a training book for dog owners. And you think, yea right, another training book. All too true, however this one is actually geared to teach the owner(s) patience and to let his or her dog learn commands for his or her self: thus allowing the dogs natural intelligence to increase rather than simply playing copy cat.
    My goal is to teach pet owners competency.

    The biggest obstacle any pet owner will face is patience.

    There are a ton of dog training books which are all basically the same, training behavior, the psyche of your pet, how to become the alpha or pack leader, correcting behavioral problems, the secrets of dog training, etc. All of these books deal in one way or another of becoming “one” with his or her pet and attempting to understand the pet(s) needs. What these books repeatedly fail to do is to allow the dog to “think” for his/her self. Dogs that are repeatedly “shown” what to do, never learn to think for his/her self, or to problem solve. thus many dogs are lulled into complacence and boredom by never being allowed to “figure things out.” What is required of the owners is to refrain from speaking or moving for extended periods.

    This is a new approach to traditional training, and once the basic commands are established the dog is quick to learn more advanced obedience cues because he/she has already learned to “think” for his/her self.

    I have used this method for training for the past 20 years and it has always yielded highly intelligent self problem-solving dogs.

  19. June 28, 2011 8:20 pm

    Clarion Write-A-Thon: Week 1

    1. Grim “Malady”

    2. Mysterious, candid, clever, obstinate, unapologetic.

    3. That the status quo remains, more or less, the same.

    4. Life is about living, and about dying.

    5. Etiquette, methodology.

    6. There has to be rules, otherwise chaos ensues.

    7. Assassin Master Grade-Four Prator Abernathy – Head of the College of Assassination and the Arts.

    8. Rigid, irritable, ambitious, frank, hateful.

    9. Duke, Lord, Sir Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch. Maurice, the cat. Ged (Sparrowhawk) [Stretch]

    10. The Nights Watch, Jingo, Feet of Clay.

    11. The Nights Watch, Jingo, Feet of Clay.

    12. Lord Rust, Dr. Cruces, Lord Downey

    13. The Nights Watch, Jingo, Feet of Clay, Men at Arms, Guards! Guards!

    14. It’s about crime, rather than policing crime. It’s about protecting death, rather than protecting life.

    The novel stands on the other side of the line. Where Pratchett’s novels deal with the law and order, this novel draws inspiration from the darker side of the business, where there is law and order, but they are internally policed. The concept draws from Pratchett’s idea of “organized crime” in where people, generally of the more lawless professions, organize themselves into unions, or guilds in order so that some measure of control can be attained. While, the Guild of Assassins in the Discworld is the obvious starting point for the inspiration behind the College of Assassination and the Arts (a place of education for the upper-classes with an added mix of a little of the good ol’ trade school mentality), the college, or more appropriately alumni of the college take the centre stage as the principal characters. Grim and Darker could exist in the Pratchett universe, but they don’t, they inhabit a convenient alternative reality, wherein society has decided that the policing of the crime should be left up to the criminals. It’s about bringing law to the lawless, I suppose, but it’s also about turning the supposed “villains” into heroes.

    All here: http://www.far-fiction.com

  20. Jules Wrenne permalink
    June 28, 2011 9:10 pm

    • Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? Nola Sky.
    • Describe your hero in five words or less. Intelligent, inquisitive, free-thinking, introspective, courageous.
    • What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over?
    Nola has to find the answers to her questions and then make peace with the answers she finds.
    • Describe this goal in ten words or less. Discover what’s happening and decide how to use the knowledge.
    • What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away?
    The society in which she lives is designed to obscure some aspects of reality from its citizens.
    • Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less.
    Authority figures fear anarchy and panic if truth is known.
    • What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle?
    Maria, head of the Planners Guild, one of nine members of The Committee, which is the society’s governing body.
    • Describe your antagonist in five words or less. Knowledgeable, political, unbending, powerful, controlling.
    • Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.*
    Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451), Lucie Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia), Meg Murray (A Wrinkle in Time).
    • Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus.
    Orphans of the Sky (Robert Heinlein), Planet of the Apes (Pierre Boulle), The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau).
    • Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle.
    Orphans of the Sky (Robert Heinlein), The Giver (Lois Lowry), Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell).
    • Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description.
    Captain Beatty (Fahrenheit 451), Saruman the White (The Lord of the Rings), Mayor Cole (The City of Ember).
    • Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name.
    Fahrenheit 451, Orphans of the Sky, The City of Ember.
    • List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13.
    Although set in the future, my novel is not dystopian or post apocalyptic. The citizens traveling on the “generation ship” understand what it is, how it works, where they’re going and when they will arrive. No knowledge from the time before the launch of the ship has been lost. The society has chosen with great care from all of human history, incorporating only the best technologies and practices into the life of the community.

  21. findmeastorm permalink
    June 29, 2011 12:14 am

    1. Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? (We will call this person the hero.)
    Amet.
    2. Describe your hero in five words or less.
    Introverted sheltered Master.
    3. What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? (We will call this the goal.)
    Amet has to make the decisions she’s avoided making throughout the novel.
    4. Describe this goal in ten words or less.
    Make the critical decision to become what she most feared.
    5. What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? (We will call this the primary obstacle.)
    Doing so would hurt others and go against her own training and indoctrinated beliefs and force her to do something that is not a reaction to someone else.
    6. Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less.
    Judge her own beliefs and decisions without outside influence.
    7. What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? (We will call this person the antagonist.)
    Salet, Amet’s co-worker.
    8. Describe your antagonist in five words or less.
    Ambitious, intelligent, prepared, poor communication.
    9. Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.*
    Aerin from The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, Arha from The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin, Adeline from Blown Away by Patrick Cave.
    10. Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus.
    Again, The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin, possibly the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin … and I’m stuck now.
    11. Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle.
    Okay, now I’m really stumped. Blown Away, by Patrick Cave again.
    12. Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description.
    Jasper from A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin … maybe I should have made my antagonist description a little less vague.
    13. Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name.
    The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin, Blown Away by Patrick Cave.
    14. List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13.
    I’m wary of spoiling anything about the above novels, but in Atuan, Arha resolves her self-identity by leaving, becoming herself after her true self was pushed away and ‘eaten’. In my novel, Amet resolves hers by facing up to her fears and accepting that to do what she was trained to do, she has to stay where she is.
    In Blown Away, Adeline is marked out as special from the day she is born, and she knows that her life is being used for the purpose of destroying a dystopian hierarchy of control. She makes her own decisions and chooses her own way to defeat the enemy.
    Amet has no such self-awareness and grows up an ordinary, if sheltered, girl. She winds up in a situation she feels she has no control over and struggles to adjust and cope. Her fear of making decisions on her own becomes more acute as others come to rely on her for their salvation.

    That was great fun! Off to read everyone elses comments now.

    • Lesley permalink
      June 29, 2011 4:55 pm

      I have to say I didn’t find this assignment helpful on day one. I see how it’s meant to work. But the main result was that I had a tentative idea that wasn’t really ready for the treatment, and now I have a list of authors who did it already. Better. And also I feel like I haven’t read enough SF&F lately. I’m feeling distinctly discouraged.

      FWIW, you can read my answer here: http://hayet-a-thon.livejournal.com/892.html

      But today I wrote an original short story that has nothing to do with the tentative novel, so go me! And reading the other answers here helps.

      • Mishell Baker permalink*
        June 29, 2011 5:18 pm

        The real problem would be if you can’t find any writers who have written the ten-word version of your novel already in a century or more of writing in the genre. That would mean your story is so far outside of human experience as to be incomprehensible.

        And one can never do “enough” reading in one’s genre. We just do our best. I am lucky with a small child to read 2-3 books a year. So I choose carefully!

      • Lesley permalink
        June 30, 2011 7:33 am

        LOL! Yeah…I realize I came off as a little whiny. :) Didn’t mean to, was just frustrated. I do more reading than I think I do- with an hour commute to and from work, I go through audiobooks like delicious candy. My biggest fear has always been that people will look at my stuff and say, “Meh, Jim Butcher did it WAY better.” *wince* I’ll take a look again and see if I can articulate what’s so different about my idea for this novel.

  22. June 29, 2011 10:22 pm

    My answers are here: http://mavarin.livejournal.com/52079.html

    I admit I did reuse C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien and Patricia C. Wrede in the “other examples” questions. To an extent, Del and Crel’s story is a reaction to what I didn’t like about the common element in the older stories: the protagonist who is restored to royal status at the end of the book, without having spent significant time coming to terms with that new identity and being changed by it. Well, maybe Wrede’s Daystar is, a bit, but Lewis’ Shasta pretty much gets abruptly re-labeled without really growing into the role. And Aragorn has already been living with the knowledge for decades, so his transformation is mostly external.

  23. July 1, 2011 7:01 am

    Did you say “horror”? Nice. I was trying to figure out which genre or theme you’re looking for. This questionnaire gave me plenty of ideas as to what kind of writing I need to do. I’m doing fantasy/horror. I hope that that’s okay.

  24. July 1, 2011 7:12 am

    “Science Fiction and Fantasy.” But, when I browsed other participants’ pages, they wrote about fiction. I think that there’s a difference between fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Combining all that would be “wow”. My story has a little bit of science fiction. The villain got too obsessed with fire, that he gained full control of it.

  25. July 1, 2011 7:52 pm

    1. Who is the character whose actions and decisions most drive your novel? Kelyn
    2. Describe your hero in five words or less. Faith in self, protective, cunning.
    3. What has to happen for your audience to know that the novel is over? (We will call this the goal.) Kelyn needs to free not only himself, but his people.
    4. Describe this goal in ten words or less. Kelyn must remove his people’s fear of their masters.
    5. What is the one most profound or pervasive reason that your hero cannot accomplish the goal right away? (We will call this the primary obstacle.) Slavery is enforced through magic, their past is kept from them.
    6. Describe the primary obstacle in ten words or less. Magic, which is unlawful, guards them closely.
    7. What person most clearly drives, creates, or causes the primary obstacle? (We will call this person the antagonist.) Torace the Whip, the Master Discipliner
    8. Describe your antagonist in five words or less. Hostile, controlling, well-versed in magic
    9. Look at the answer to question 2, and find three other sf&f novels whose hero could also be described in these exact or very similar words.* Stardoc (series), Game of Thrones, Moon Called, Golden Compass
    10. Look at the answer to question 4, and find three other sf&f novels whose conflict could be described thus. (Kelyn must remove his people’s fear of their masters.) Stargate SG1 novels, Two Towers
    11. Look at the answer to question 6, and find three other sf&f novels with the same basic primary obstacle. (Magic, which is unlawful, guards them closely.) Valdemar series, Deverry series, Jane Lindskold’s wolf books, Diplomacy of Wolves (Lisle), Golden Compass, Stargate
    12. Look at the answer to question 8, and find three other sf&f novels whose antagonist meets this description. (Hostile, controlling, well-versed in magic) Shanara series, E. Haydon’s Symphony books, Great Book of Amber, Star Wars, Secret Texts (Holly Lisle)

    13. Which novels appear more than once in your answers to questions 9-12? List them here by name. Holly Lisle’s Secret Texts, Stargate SG1
    14. List the ways in which your novel stands in stark contrast to each of the novels listed in question 13.
    Stargate: my novel is different in that the man who seeks to free the slaves is a slaved himself where the Stargate characters are from a world which had once been enslaved; their travels bring them to enslaved societies whom they wish to free from the tyranny of the Gou’uld.
    The Secret Texts series begins with a character who is well situated and runs into trouble by being who she is, unable to hide her magic. Kelyn is a slave who fights to break out of his confinement, but the part of him that is magic holds him back rather than forces him out. His enemy is one he knows, rather than Secret Text’s character is trying to discover.

    I’ve been reading enough, but I think I need to pay more attention when I read. I’ve been recalling more details on novels I’ve critiqued than published novels I’ve purchased and read.

  26. Aliene Believe permalink
    July 2, 2011 8:53 pm

    Hello, everybody! Sorry for my delay, but… well, in Brazil is winter, not summer, and I’m not on vacation, so thinking in the answers in the middle of everything I have to do was a little bit difficult. But, well, it’s part of my personal challenge, so let’s go:
    1) My hero is called Kawa.
    2) Ex-angel, ex-devil, ex-human.
    3) Basically, Kawa’s goal is create what he will call “the third side” and stop with God and Lucifer’s game for human’s souls.
    4) Is heaven and hell’s war just to save human’s souls?
    5) Tchard, the “Soul Killer” and Kawa’s brother, is killing human’s souls and someone need to stop him.
    6) Without souls, without third side.
    7) Tchard.
    8) Soul killer, ex-human, ex-devil, Kawa’s brother.
    9) Cain (Jose Saramago), Despertar (Stephen Play), Angel Sanctuary (Kauri Yuki)
    10) Cain, Despertar and A Batalha dos deuses (film by Kôzô Morishita and Seiji Yokoyama)
    11) Bastard (Kazushi Hagiwara), Soul Killer (film by Bob Canode), X-1999 (Clamp)
    12) Soul Killer, Bastard, X-1999.
    13) Cain, Despertar, Bastard, X-1999.
    14) Cain: Cain was not so powerful, and his relationship with God was not so good. His excuses to fight against “God’s interests” were a little bit different. And he killed his brother in the beginning of the book ;)
    Despertar: I’m not pretty sure (someone told me about this book, I haven’t read it), but I guess that hero’s motivation to create a new “denomination” is completely different.
    Bastard: The causes of war and antagonist’s nature are different.
    X-1999: God and Lucifer aren’t fighting; fight is to save human beings, not their souls. Hero and Antagonists were not brothers, but friends.

    I hope that no one will be frustated with my anwers..

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