Tag Archive: Novel


Story Planning: The Crucial Step

Tonight I sat down to continue planning out a novel idea I am currently working on (‘planning’ being the key word here). Picking up where I left off on the plot, I uncovered an important subplot that needed to be weaved into the main plot. It perfectly connected major portions of my story and added another layer of depth. I was overjoyed at this revelation and reveled in my sheer genius. After thinking about it for a minute, I had another revelation of the importance of planning out a story before actually writing it.

While I am not yet published and cannot claim professional writing experience, I am a professional programmer and in the programming world, those who do not plan their code out will almost never fix all the bugs in a timely fashion. The resulting program will mostly work, but not as well as it could have. The same principle applies to writing stories, no matter what their length.

Some authors out there think they can just dream up a good story and immediately begin to bang it out in raw, literary form. I don’t doubt there are savants out there who can write this way, but I have never read advice from professional, established authors who encourage this type of writing style. Laying out even the most basic story plan will even aid the savants in focusing their creative energies.

If I had taken this ‘cowboy writing’ approach with my current novel, I would have written almost half of it before discovering my awesome subplot and would have been forced to meticulously go back through and force in elements to properly set it up. That would have taken a long time and would almost certainly have ended up with the story having blatant holes in the plot. Since none of the story has been written in literary prose, I am free to go back through my notes and chop them up however I need to make sure this subplot is fully entrenched without worrying about leaving holes or missing deadlines for drafts.

So, there is my $0.02 on the topic of story planning. It has already saved my story and it can save yours too.

I use The Anatomy of Story by John Truby as my religious text when planning out a new story. His methods have already aided me in crafting some wickedly awesome short stories (that I hope to unleash soon) and are invaluable to me as I plan out my very first novel. Try it out and see if it works for you.

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Recently I took a detour from my normal reading fare to delve into some insane paranormal romance. After successfully making it through two novellas, I was ready to get back into the wondrous future of science fiction. Nothing against paranormal romance as a genre, it’s just I sometimes crave worlds were people are doing something else besides falling in love with one another.

Over the past year or so, I have been casually reading through the Horus Heresy series within the Warhammer 40K universe. Warhammer 40K began as a humble table-top strategy game that quickly grew a tremendous collection of lore to back the plastic armies crawling across tables everywhere. Somewhere along the way, Games Workshop , the company behind 40K, finally realized that it could make even more money by getting people to write books for them.

Whatever your opinion of licensed fiction, the Black Library, literary arm of Games Workshop, has been cranking out some great works of fiction that deserve to stand on their own merits outside the overwhelming lore that makes up Warhammer 40K. Several talented authors have lent their minds to the Black Library and crafted mind blowing stories within the 40K-verse.

Out of all the Horus Heresy authors I have read, Graham McNeill is still my personal favorite and his latest book, A Thousand Sons , shines brightly in the series. It is also the Black Library’s very first novel to make the New York Times best-selling list.

Summary

The twelfth book in the Horus Heresy series and following the Thousand Sons Space Marine legion, A Thousand Sons tells the tragic story of how they fall from the guiding light of the Emperor. Mangus, Primarch of the legion, searches too deeply for power to unlock hidden secrets of the galaxy and as a result, the Emperor bans everyone from wielding these powers. In his search, Mangus witnessed the betrayal of Horus and sets out to warn the Emperor with the very power he was forbidden to use. The Emperor retaliates by unleashing Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, on their homeworld, Prospero, to bring Mangus to justice.

Review

McNeill paints this legion vastly different from any of the others he has previously worked with, giving them a truly unique flavour. As with all doomed legions in the Horus Heresy timeframe, they possess redeeming qualities that he captures and brings to life with such force that they will live directly inside your grey matter long after the story has concluded.

The interactions between the Thousand Sons and Space Wolves are simply amazing as both legions revolve around each other in a fatal dance. The mounting tension builds until it becomes palpable and you accompany Mangus to the Council of Nikea, a major milestone within 40K lore. McNeill demonstrates his knowledge and love for 40K lore as he meticulously builds to this crucial moment. His treatment of the legion is worthy of praise from fanboys everywhere.

The plot has a few problems in the beginning as it starts off seemingly going nowhere until the Space Wolves show up. Then the real plot arises and consumes the characters in its wake. Once things began to pick up, I literally could not stop reading. McNeill’s talent for weaving characters into his plot has certainly reached its pinnacle with this Horus Heresy entry and I felt he more than made up for the slow start.

The ending was a bit mysterious as it hinted at related 40K lore that readers will not pick up on unless they are fully entrenched with the table-top game. The journey to the end is well worth the read, though, as this is definitely one of the better entries in the series and deserves its well-earned New York Times slot. McNeill has written a superb story that anyone mildly interested in 40K should take a look at.

I give A Thousand Sons a 90%

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Michael A. Stackpole, original fantasy and Star Wars author, has issued a challenge to everyone who wants to give Michael A. Stackpolefull creative control over to authors. Traditionally, authors have been shackled by big New York publishers with restrictive contracts that dictated how an they could craft their novels. However, with the rise of digital self-publishing, authors can now cut out the middle-man and sell directly to the fans. Stackpole has championed this new method of publishing.

His fantasy novel, Talion: Revenant, was a huge hit when it was first published. In fact, he receives more requests for a sequel than any of his other works. Unfortunately, writing for big publishers and getting them on board is no easy task, so fans were forced to wait for a sequel that never materialized – until now.

He has recently re-released Talion: Revenant in ebook format and has issued a challenge along with it: if he can sell 10,000 copies of the digital format of the book, he will use the profits to write the much-anticipated sequel. Now that is a challenge I can get behind. If all authors seriously considered the opinions of their fans, novels would be so much better.

The idea behind this challenge is a huge step in the right direction. Publishers have no right determining the direction of authors. It should be solely between the author and the fans. We are the ones reading and supporting these artists, so it is only right that we be given the opportunity to connect with them and let them know what we want to read. And the best way to show our support is to buy directly from them via digital self-publishing.

The digital form of this book is indeed self-published by Stackpole, so you are buying directly from the man himself. Get out there and show your support!

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