Outlining a Series With the Snowflake Method: Step 2- In Practice

Step 1: One Sentence Storyline
Step 1-1/2: What Type of Series?
Step 2: One Paragraph Storyline- Exposition

 

Now, we get to move on to the practical use of the One Paragraph Storyline, and discuss the slight modifications I’ve made to it to make it work for the series outline style I’ve got planned.

The first couple of times I’ve used the snowflake outline to outline a series I used the normal method with 3 disasters and an ending, and the way I worked it is that each “disaster” would be the One Sentence Storyline for the next step down. That’s a good way to outline for four books. The entire system at this point is built to be divisible by four. So, the next step up would be sixteen books. So, this can create a really really long series. With The Raven Stone series I broke it down this way, but instead of outlining a full 16 book series, I looked at it like I was outlining a 4 book series that was going to be serialized into 16 parts. So, that second stage of One Sentence Storylines became the story arcs for the route the series was taking. Each arc was built to have a separate villain, though they were interconnected by the overarching storyline developed in the first One Paragraph Storyline.

That’s not how I’m going to be doing for this outline. For one reason, I don’t want a series that’s going to be 16 books long. I’m going to aim for 7 books, just like our published example. To get that number of books I’m going to have to modify the One Paragraph Outline. The easiest way I see to do this is to expand the number of “disasters” that take place over the course of the series. So, instead of 3 disasters and an ending, it will be 6 disasters and an ending. And, I’m not even going to pretend to find a way to make that get along with the 3-act structure and what not. This One Paragraph Storyline serves exactly one purpose, a broad overview of the series. Each of the disasters and the ending will basically be bunch of One Sentence Storylines. Still, the best way to make the over arching plot of the series consistent is to treat the whole of the series like it’s going to be one novel. An extremely long novel, but a novel none the less.

So, for the breakdown let’s look at our published example:

(Be aware, there are spoilers below.)

 

Harry Potter series:
One Sentence Storyline: A boy is the chosen one in a prophecy that pits him against the most evil wizard.

For the disasters in Harry Potter we could look at the actual ending of the books, though that will always have Harry return to the Dursley’s, and while that’s a terrible thing, using it as the disaster for each book wouldn’t be descriptive of the book at all. No, the disasters are going to be the focal points of the novel. The climactic moments in the series. Like the first books disaster would be the moment when Quirrell reveals that he’s been Voldemort’s host all along and tries to kill Harry. Basically, the disaster here is that Voldemort is alive and there is a possibility that one day he will be able to reclaim his former glory and cast another darkness across the land.

 

First Disaster:
Harry finds out Voldemort is alive, he’s a weak creature that must depend on others to live, but he’s still alive and there’s a chance he’ll come back just as powerful as before.

Second Disaster:
Harry becomes trapped in the chamber of secrets and finds himself facing off with Tom Riddle twenty years before he becomes Lord Voldemort.

Third Disaster:
After almost proving his innocence, Harry must say goodbye to his godfather before he goes into hiding, running from a crime he didn’t commit.

Fourth Disaster:
The triwizard tournament was a sham, merely a way for Voldemort to get ahold of Harry, and use some of his darkest powers to completely resurrect himself, regaining his full power.

Fifth Disaster:
Harry discovers that he’s the subject of a prophecy, one that foretells his coming battle and death at the hands of Lord Voldemort.

Sixth Disaster:
Betrayal, Harry watches in horror as Severus Snape murders Albus Dumbledoor.

End:
Harry learns that he is Voldemort’s final horcrux, and if there’s to be any chance of defeating him Harry must die by Voldemort’s hand.

(Side note… I should probably put a spoiler warning earlier in the post.)

(Another side note: it is a lot easier to make these out for books that have been written already. We’ve not even looked at our example series yet.)

So, the One Paragraph Storyline of the Harry Potter series:

A boy is the chosen one in a prophecy that pits him against the most evil wizard of all. Harry finds out Voldemort is alive, he’s a weak creature that must depend on others to live, but he’s still alive and there’s a chance he’ll come back just as powerful as before. Harry becomes trapped in the chamber of secrets and finds himself facing off with Tom Riddle twenty years before he becomes Lord Voldemort. After almost proving his innocence, Harry must say goodbye to his godfather before he goes into hiding, running from a crime he didn’t commit. The Triwizard Tournament was a sham, merely a way for Voldemort to get ahold of Harry, and use some of his darkest powers to resurrect himself, regaining his full power. Harry discovers he’s the subject of a prophecy, one that foretells his coming battle and death at the hands of Lord Voldemort. Betrayal, Harry watches in horror as Severus Snape murders Albus Dumbledoor. Harry learns that he is Voldemort’s final horcrux, and if there’s to be any chance of defeating him Harry must die by Voldemort’s hand.

Welp, there’s the One Paragraph Storyline for the Harry Potter series. Now it’s time to work on our original fiction idea, but I think I’m going to put that off until the next post. Later taters.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove

RSK

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity:https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

Outlining a Series With the Snowflake Method: Step 2- Exposition

Step 1: One Sentence Storyline
Step 1-1/2: What Type of Series?

Now, we can finally move on to step 2.

Well, we can sort of move on to step 2. I still never gave my final decision about how many books the series is going to be. I think I’ll take the simplest method with it though. The published series example I’m using for this story is a 7 book series, so I’ll aim for 7 books for my series as well. The odd number is also a new one for me, as I’ve pretty rigidly stuck to the snowflake method in the path. I’ve got a little bit of modification I’m going to do to the method, however, to make outlining a seven book series just a wee bit easier.

Now, step 2 is called the One Paragraph Storyline. When I sit down and do this step myself, I’ll typically do the step at the same time I do the first step. Why? Because, the brainstorming session for my one sentence storyline spills over into the second step right at the same time. A little of that spilled over in my previous project journal, but not nearly as much as I normally would have had. At the time I literally was just trying to get the basics together for my one sentence storyline.

(At this point I’m mainly going to be explaining the way the One Paragraph Storyline works in the normal snowflake method, and we’ll go from there into the actual meat and potatoes of the work in the next post.)

The One Paragraph Storyline is basically the precursor for the 3-act structure. It is built by creating 3 disasters for your characters to experience over the course of the story. In the 3-act structure each disaster is going to correspond to a major turning point in the story.

The first disaster will be the end of Act 1, crossing the threshold in the Hero’s Journey basically. At that point your characters are committed. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, our published example, there are two points I feel that could be the threshold and end to Act 1. Many people would point to the obvious trip to platform 9-3/4’s as this is when Harry is literally crossing the barrier into the magical world. Personally though, I believe the first disaster takes place after they’re already at school. I think the first disaster in the book is the encounter with the troll. Why? This is the point at which Harry, Ron, and Hermione cross the threshold into the true state of their friendship. They become the Power Trio (something that probably needs to be discussed at a later date in a post all its own, but if you want a bit of early reading on the subject check out TVTropes.org), and from that point forward the story really is moving them towards their ultimate destiny.

The second disaster is the midpoint of Act 2, I believe that’s the Belly of the Whale in the Hero’s Journey. In some interpretations, specifically going with the Hero’s Journey as an example, this is the darkest hour for the character. I think. Totally not an expert on the Hero’s Journey, so I could be talking out of my ass right now. Going back to Harry Potter I feel that this “disaster” would be the Mirror of Erised. It’s the first time Harry sees his parents, and has his first deep meaningful interaction with Dumbledoor.

The third disaster is the end of Act 2, and would be the climax of the Hero’s Journey (I think). With our example, I believe that the third disaster would be the quidditch match where Harry is thrown around on the broom. This clues the group into knowing something is up with Snape, and points them in the direction they need to go to find out about Professor Quirrell, where and how to get around the three headed dog, and speeds them on towards the ultimate climax of the story.

After this disaster you would come up with a suitable end for the story to cap off Act 3, the Return With The Elixir in the Hero’s Journey I believe. This segment in Harry’s first adventure would be the moment he defeats Voldemort, and gets the Sorcerer’s Stone from the mirror. I’ll leave out the unpleasant return to the Dursley’s. We’ll be talking about that more in the next post.

In constructing the actual One Paragraph Storyline the One Sentence Storyline will be the first sentence. The next three sentences will correspond to each of the disasters, and the final sentence will be the ending of the story. Now, let’s take a look at the story we’ve got laid out before us.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone One Paragraph Storyline:


(I also realized I did the One Sentence Storyline for the Harry Potter series as a whole, not just for the first book >.<)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone One Sentence Storyline:

A young boy learns he’s a wizard and travels to a school of magic where he begins to learn the bigger part he’ll play in the world. (It’s terrible I know.)

First Disaster:

Harry, Ron, and Hermione face off with a mountain troll that got into the school, and through the experience become the best of friends.

Second Disaster:

Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, he sees his parents for the first time, and learns that the mirror would consume him if he were to continue looking into its depths; Dumbledoor has it moved for reasons unknown.

Third Disaster:

At the deciding game of the schools quidditch championship Snape appears to be attacking Harry, alerting the three friends to the ultimate badness that’s going on in the school.

End:

Harry is able to claim the Sorcerer’s Stone from the Mirror of Erised and defeat Voldemort once again, just in time for the end of year tests.

So, putting it all together.

One Paragraph Storyline:

A young boy learns he’s a wizard and travels to a school of magic where he begins to learn the bigger part he’ll play in the world. Harry, Ron, and Hermione face off with a mountain troll that got into the school, and through the experience become the best of friends. Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised, he sees his parents for the first time, and learns that the mirror would consume him if he were to continue looking into its depths; Dumbledoor has it moved for reasons unknown. At the deciding game of the schools quidditch championship Snape appears to be attacking Harry, alerting the three friends to the ultimate badness that’s going on in the school. Harry is able to claim the Sorcerer’s Stone from the Mirror of Erised and defeat Voldemort once again, just in time for the end of year tests.

And, that’s pretty much the basics of Step 2. In the next post we’ll look at how Step 2 will be modified to work as a One Paragraph Storyline for the entirety of the series.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove

RSK

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity:https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

Inspiration: We’re All Victims of Instant Gratification

I know I should be writing Step 2 of my outlining series, but I kind of got caught off guard by this topic today. And, it is something that I want to talk about. Primarily because I know I’m a victim of instant gratification. I can almost guarantee you, that you are too.

(I also wrote a bad poem titled: Victim of Instant Gratification)

In a world where messages are instant, don’t you want everything else to be too. In the age of the internet, people have lost the understanding of what it means to work for something. Open up a web browser and BAM! the whole world is at your fingertips. Any piece of information you want can be accessed almost instantly. There is no waiting involved. As evidence of this point, I just did a google search for “instant gratification”, the response from Google was: “About 13,900,000 results (0.41 seconds)”. Do you know how short an amount of time .41 seconds is. I’ll tell you. Its less than the amount of time it takes you to blink. My finger had barely left the ENTER key before the page with the search results populated. Now tell me, if that’s not instant gratification, what is?

This is a problem for the world though. Why? Because it has created a generation of the ultra entitled. Countless people, the world over, believe that they’re entitled to everything that exists, and they’re entitled to it right now, just because they’re alive. I know this first hand. Why? Because I was one of them. I’m trying though, I’m learning to be better than that.

Nothing in this world is instant and worth having. To truly understand the value of a thing you have to have worked for it. To enjoy the success of some venture, you must have invested something into it. You must put your body, mind, heart, and soul into the process to acquire the McGuffin. Why? Because the world requires balance. You can’t have the good without the bad. And you have to have experienced the bad, the worst in fact, to understand the beauty of what it is you’ve accomplished.

Let’s take blogging as a short example. I’ve tried blogging on and off for the last ten years or so. Most often I’ll get about a month into it and give up. Why? It’s the instant gratification factor involved.

Building a successful blog takes time. It takes time to build an audience. It takes time to understand the different factors that are going to help your blog grow. You have to learn certain techniques to truly get things moving, and it takes time to learn those things. Search Engine Optimization (SEO for short) is not a skill that develops overnight. There are plenty of other factors as well. What type of content are you producing? How many people are interested in said content? Is it quality content? Do you know what you’re talking about? If you don’t know what you’re talking about, are you at least doing a good job of explaining the way you’re going about learning about this topic? And, this list could probably go on for hours.

Now, here I come expecting everything to be handed too me on a satin pillow, and, much to my surprise, I’ve had little to no traffic in the time a month has gone by. I feel like I’ve worked my heart and soul out, bleeding all over the keyboard as I’m doing it, and I’ve got nothing in return. So, at that point I would give up. I would never look past that, and not even try to understand what was happening. I wouldn’t look into learning how to do other things to help drive traffic, or improve the quality of my content, or really understand anything about how to build a blog. I just expected it to be super easy for me because I’m “ME” (and, yes, at the time I would think about myself in all caps). I’m trying to learn the difference this time.

I’m about four or five days into this attempt at blogging, and this time I’m determined to be successful. I’m not going to let the lack of instant gratification get to me, rather I’m going to understand that nothing comes without hard work and determination. Dedication and discipline are a requirement in this field. I’m also going to look at studying marketing and SEO and a hundred other things that are related to building a blog. I want to make a living as a writer, so I need to build an audience. A blog is one of the best ways to do that. Now, I just need to learn to be patient enough to put in the time and effort required to build it.

Come to think of it now, I might actually try to do something somewhat entertaining. (At least the thought of it to me is entertaining.) I believe I’ll track the progress of my blog both here on WordPress and on Medium (and maybe Blogger if I decide to revive that blog, though I’m basically just posting the same content on all of them.) Tracking the progress of the blog will go a long way towards helping me build the blog and understand how this unique online world works.

Anywho, I feel like I’m rambling, and have totally lost the thread of thought that was the impetus to this post. I’ve also got about a hundred other things I need to do on my day off. So, I’ll be signing off here. Have a good one.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove

RSK

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity: https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

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Outlining a Series With the Snowflake Method: Step 1-1/2

Step 1: One Sentence Storyline

I sat down to work on step 2 earlier today, and while I was working on it I realized something rather important. When you’re working on outlining a series you can’t immediately jump into step two once you finish step one; there needs to be a half step between the two. What is this half step composed of? Logistics. This is the point where we decide how many books our series is going to have. (Side note: this half step can also be completed before step one.)

The first major choice is what type of series you want to have.

But, Ryan, isn’t there only one type of series?

The short answer is no. There are a plethora of series types to choose from. As I see it there are five basic types of series. They are single narrative series; multiple story arc series, interconnected trilogies, minorly interconnected single entry series, and single entry series.

A single narrative series is a series of stories that follows a single narrative thread. These series often have books that are somewhat standalone, but become more and more interconnected as the later books in the series build on the former books. A good example of a single narrative series is the Harry Potter series. Probably the first three or four books in Harry Potter can be read as standalone books (the first book I read in the series was The Prisoner of Azkaban, and I didn’t have a problem catching onto what was going on, had I started at book five or six I would have been completely lost). The same could be said for Stephen King’s Dark Tower cycle, or Andy Peloquin’s Hero of Darkness series. The first couple of books are easy to slip into, but past that you really need to know what happened in the books before to understand the primary line of the story’s narrative. (I also believe this is nowhere more apparent than Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time series, though I’ve not read through the whole series yet so I can’t be one hundred percent.) I would also consider George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire a single narrative series, but not one that can be easily picked up past the first novel. (Of course the first novel can’t be picked up easily either, at least for me it couldn’t.) As an example from my own stories, I’ll be using the story I’m outlining for this project, The Dragon God’s Canticles will be a singular narrative series, as well as a series I’ve been poking at for a while: The Elementalist’s Apprentice.

A multiple story arc series is a series of books where a certain number of books tell an almost self contained story arcs. They’re interconnected, and tell just enough of an overarching story not to be included in one of the other categories. I’m also defining a self contained story arc as a story arc that spans across a number of books, but not over the totality of the series. Most often, examples of this type of series would be a series of novels that are serialized. Each complete book of the serial might be part of a single entry series (think of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his series of novels focused on the character of Sherlock Holmes), but I would still consider them falling under this category because they share elements with the prior stories and do build on one another to a small extent. A more modern example of this sort of series would be Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mystery series. I find these books are broken into story arcs mainly due to the relationships the primary character has throughout X number of books. Like Sookie’s relationship with the vampire Bill Compton is the focus of the first three (maybe four, can’t remember) books, and after that her relationship with Eric Northman picks up, and so on and so fourth. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas is a similar example with the first two books focused on the relationship arc between the main character, Celaena Sardothian, and one of the male love interests, Chaol Westfall, while books three through five focus on the relationship between Celaena and Rowan, a fey character introduced in the third book. (If you haven’t noticed, most of these arc related series are closely related to the romance genre.) An excellent example of this, in a fantasy context, is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m sure you’re all confused at this point, but yes, this is a series of novels that is broken into two separate story arcs. What are the story arcs? (If you’ve read the books you know what I’m talking about.) The story arcs are Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor and Mount Doom, and the story of Gimli, Legolas, Aragorn, et al., as they battle against the forces of Sarumon and Sauron. The books themselves are broken down into two book sections, with one book dealing with Sam and Frodo, and the other book dealing with the rest of the fellowship of the ring. One of the series I’ve been working on is going to fit this format, as it will basically be four novels serialized across several smaller volumes. The series is going to be titled The Raven Stone series (sign up for my mailing list[link to upscribe form] if you want to keep track of all my little bits of insanity) and will focus on a small group of misfits as they travel across an alternate history version of our earth.

The third category is interconnected trilogies. These are series that are based primarily on the trilogy structure. That means the characters and settings are basically the same between each trilogy, but the stories are contained wholly in that trilogy with only tiny elements of it following along into the other stories. This is the way ninety percent of the Star Wars Legends stories are structured. It’s a perfect example, with only minor elements (a character here, a setting there, that sort of thing) following from one trilogy into the next. Another factor that relates to this is that all of these stories are considered canon (in the case of Star Wars Legends they were considered canon at the time they were written) and therefore are an important part when other stories are being written about this world. Another example of interconnected trilogies are shared world series (these pretty much function the same way Star Wars Legends did). (A short definition of a “shared world series” is a fantasy or science fiction setting that multiple authors contribute too.)

The next type of series is the minorly interconnected single entry series. This is a sort of series where some elements of the story (characters, locations, and such) are held over from story to story, but the main characters and the primary story are almost entirely separate from the other entries in the series. A narrative arc might be constructed, but if it is this arc will come from the interaction of secondary and tertiary characters. It won’t be a quick to resolve story arc, and there might be multiple entries in the series where the story arc isn’t mentioned at all. The series will build on itself, after a fashion, by taking the main characters from the earlier entries and turning them into secondary and tertiary characters in the later additions to the series. And the aforementioned narrative arc will almost always culminate in an entry where some of the primary secondary or tertiary characters are finally getting their time as the main characters of the story. This is the way I’ve seen a couple of paranormal romance series structured, and the first example that jumps to mind is Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. This series could almost cross classify as a multiple story arc series, as the way Mrs. Kenyon has structured her series is that the secondary and tertiary characters will slowly build a story arc over five to ten books, before the “main” character among the secondary and tertiary characters will get their story told, thus ending that story arc. This book will also serve as the starting point for the next slow to build story arc. (I think this type of series is almost completely unique to the romance genre as one of the most important tropes in the romance genre is the Happily Ever After moment, and in a traditional series it is hard to get that Happily Ever After moment, and the bastard cousin of the Happily Ever After moment, the Happy For Now moment, only works so many times before the fans become very disgruntled with the author of the work and start to lose interest in the series.)

Now, the final series type is the single entry series. This type of series is almost singularly unique in the fact that the books DO NOT form a cohesive story. They don’t build on themselves, and the main character (who is typically the same character from entry to entry) always feels like the reset button on their character development got hit when the new story starts. The mystery and thriller genres are the most frequent perpetrators of this series type. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes falls under this category (being cross classified from the entry above), as does Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot character and the mysteries he solves. James Bond, by Ian Fleming, is another culprit. Along with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt novels, Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, and Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder and Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery series all fall under this classification. If I tried I’m sure I could find about a hundred more examples (honestly it probably numbers in the thousands). These books may occasionally touch on story elements from other entries in the series, but it is far from typical for that to happen.

And, where does that leave us at the end of this half step. I’m pretty sure I answered that question when discussing the first type of series. I’ll be aiming for writing a single narrative series when it comes to The Dragon God’s Canticles. This is also the type of series outline I’ll be using for The Elementalist’s Apprentice series when I finally find my way around to working on the rest of the first draft of the first book, all before I completely invalidate what I wrote by writing out the outline after I wrote the first book. And, I’ve got two other examples I can point at too, while we’re discussing the other ways to work the Snowflake Method for this outline. That would be The Adventures of Gallan Lancaster series, which is going to be outlined with the interconnected trilogy model, and The Raven Stone series, which will be using the multiple story arc model. As of right now, I don’t have anything planned for the other two series types. Give me some time though, and I’m sure I can come up with something.

Anywho, see you tomorrow with the official Step Two post.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity: https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

RSK

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Outlining a Series With The Snowflake Method: Step One

This post was inspired by one of the questions I stumbled across in one of the writing groups I’m a member of on Facebook. The post by Ally Kelly in the Fantasy Writers Support Group is as follows. “There are different methods for outlining a single novel, such as the three act structure or a variety of other ways. But what about outlining something you know will be a multi-book trilogy/series- what are your methods for that? Do you just come up with an overarching plot for the whole series and then follow the three act structure for each individual book and lay them out, or whatever structure you choose to use for a singular book, or is there another method you follow that works for multiple books? Do you have or know of any templates that are specifically for outlining multiple books that are part of the same series?”

My answer to this question comes in the form of the Snowflake Method.

What is The Snowflake Method?

The Snowflake Method is a type of outline created by Randy Ingermanson. The outline is built over the course of ten steps with each step building on the one before it.

Step One

It starts out small with step one quite simply being a one sentence storyline. This single sentence is supposed to encapsulate the whole of the story and serve as a sort of tag line or pitch for the story. It’s not supposed to be very detailed, and Randy even suggests that one should try to keep the sentence under fifteen words. This leaves just enough room for the author to maybe describe the main character and introduce the conflict the story is about. Randy also suggests that the sentence should be left as vague as possible. This is the most basic step and will serve as the basis for every step that follows.

In practice, for me anyway, I find it extremely difficult to stick to the suggested level of detail in my one sentence storylines. I tend to be wordy and have a bad habit of adding superfluous details. That’s a stylistic thing though, and doesn’t really effect the way the rest of the outline is constructed. However, this one sentence storyline becomes more difficult to keep vague when you’re trying to outline a series. “That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Let’s look at a fairly easy example: A young abused boy learns that he is a wizard and the chosen one in a prophecy that pits him against the most evil wizard of all time.” (28 words)

It’s quite a bit longer than the suggested length, but it gives a very clear idea of what happens throughout the course of the story. (It’s a one sentence storyline for Harry Potter if you couldn’t guess.) This is also an example of how wordy I tend to be. I can easily modify this sentence to give the same idea of the story without all the extra details: “A boy is the chosen one in a prophecy that pits him against the most evil wizard.” (17 words)

Still a bit longer than the suggested length, and I can still remove details while keeping the gist of what the series is about: “A boy is the chosen one and is pitted against an evil wizard.” (13 words)

Now, this sentence is right within the suggested amount of words with details about as vague as I can make them. Just between us, I hate this sentence. There might be enough information in it for this most basic step, but it doesn’t have nearly the detail I like in my one sentence storylines. My personal choice of the three sentences would be the second one. I feel like it has exactly the right amount of detail in the sentence. It adds weight to what is happening. In this storyline we know that the boy is the chosen one and that his coming has been prophesied, and that he is going to battle the most evil of all wizards. The third sentence doesn’t tell you that there’s a prophecy involved. While it does imply the existence of a prophecy by talking about the boy being the chosen one. In the third sentence it also doesn’t explain the importance behind the evil wizard. It just says that he’s an evil wizard, and while an evil wizard could certainly be a terrible thing for the world, it doesn’t feel like he could really be that much of a threat.


Now, the best way I know how to teach anything is via example. We’ve got the Harry Potter example above, and it’s simple to take that and extrapolate it until it represents the whole of the series. I think it would be best to take it from the top with a completely original outline for a new series.

Normally at this point I would go through a brainstorming session to try and determine what the basic premise of the new series is going to be, but since I don’t want this post to run on for another two or three pages I’m going to forego putting you through that process. If you do want to see that part of the process however, I will post it in a project journal on my blog at: ryanskinsgrove.wordpress.com. (I’ll create a hyper link to it once I get it posted.)

Brainstorming is complete, and what a headache it was. (It’s very hard for me to stay focused on one topic when I’m writing in a mostly stream of consciousness style.) But, I do have the one sentence storyline for my new series outline. The example outline I’m going to be writing is for a series titled The Dragon God’s Canticles, and the one sentence storyline follows: An unlikely team of heroes are gathered together to prevent the darkness of the demonic dragon god from spreading across the land. (22 words)

Yes, it is longer than the suggested length, but as discussed earlier I don’t care much for the suggested length. Besides, this isn’t the one sentence storyline for a single novel. It’s the storyline for an entire series. So, I’m going to say a little bit of extra is a-okay.

Anywho, that’s the first step of my Series Snowflake Method…series XD. Stay tuned for the next installment, which should be posted tomorrow.

Ryan S. Kinsgrove

Follow along with my peculiar brand of insanity: https://upscri.be/5a20f7/

RSK

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Multiplicity: How Many Alters Do You Have and What Are They Like?

Inspired by a question on Quora.

The smart ass in me wants to start this answer with more than one, less than a hundred. But, that’s neither here nor there. To be honest I’ve never done an exact count, its a number that always seems to shift as I’m always finding more. So, to rephrase the question in a way that makes sense for me: How many of your others are active, and what are they like?

To answer that question I’ve got four who are the most active: Kain, Khitti, Xarathiel, and Isaiah. Of the four of them Kain is the only adult. The other three are children. I have lots of inner children (that’s probably why I never want to grow up).

Khitti is probably my most active personality. She is a four year old who is extremely talented mathematically. Without my brain in the way the little girl can do calculus in her head. She wants me to find advanced algebra workbooks like they’ve got the basic math workbooks for normal children. (If you happen to know of a place to get something like that let me know in the comments.) Other than math her current obsession is Skyrim. If I were to let her she would spend every waking moment playing the game. She loves My Little Pony, Princess Luna and Fluttershy are her favorites. Her favorite Disney movie is Tangled with Frozen being a close second (I’ve seen both of those movies upwards of forty times now, and she’ll start randomly singing the songs in my head at the most inopportune times). I love my little Khitti, and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

The next most active is Xarathiel, we call her Z for short. She’s probably around fourteen in age and is a total girly girl. I’m honestly surprised I haven’t woken up with blonde hair extensions, a manicure, a pedicure, and a lovely and frilly pink dress. She also knows I would never let her out again if that happened. Inside she spends her time drawing (I wish I had one-tenth of her talent), reading, and playing pranks on the other others. (Namely by turning them different colors.) She also likes My Little Pony and her favorite is Twilight Sparkle. When I let her out around other people her favorite thing to do is make them play a guessing game of sorts. She’ll pretend to be me, but will drop hints here and there trying to keep the person she’s talking to off kilter. She has a blast with it, and I admit I find it entertaining.

The next most active is Kain. In a way he’s my guardian angel and my ideal self all rolled into one. He’s been around the longest, wearing different names and faces as I grew up, but he was always there trying to protect me. Now he’s my biggest cheerleader. He knows what to say and when to say it. He knows when to call me out on shit. I feel like he’s perfect, and I’ve always wanted to be him. He’s everything I’m not. (Right now he’s facepalming and muttering ‘I’m far from perfect’ under his breath.)

The fourth most active personality is Isaiah. He’s a little boy probably about eight years old. He’s got a speech impediment due to surgery he’d had done on his throat (I might write more about that in a different post), and his absolute favorite thing in the world is soft serve ice cream. And, ice cream sandwiches. He said I can’t leave that out.

So, that’s pretty much my most active group. Later on I might go and write a post for each of them. But, I”m going to call it quits for now.

If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section.

Mailing List: https://upscri.be/7fc331/

RSK

Quora Questions Answered: Is There Any Evidence To Suggest That Consciousness Could Exist Outside The Body?

 

There’s a long answer and a short answer to this.

The short one is no, there’s no empirical evidence to prove or disprove possibility of a consciousness existing outside of a human body.
That’s not to say that research hasn’t been done, however. The studies that I’ve heard of (I don’t have names and dates for the studies so take what I say with a grain of salt) have focused primarily on studying the way the mind functions during what the test subjects describe as out of body experiences. These studies have indicated the mind entering in a dreamlike or trance like state with similar parts of the brain lighting up as though the subject had entered R.E.M. sleep. To my knowledge the methods to test this state of being was transcendental meditation, hypnosis, and drug induced effect, primarily LSD.

I’m going to repeat, 90% of this is pure speculation. Like I mentioned I don’t have names and dates for the studies, and I have a highly over active imagination. So, a grain of salt it is.

Now, there’s another end to this spectrum. We have “evidence” in the form of personal experiences. Mabey not a common occurrence, but the group you’re looking for are Buddhist monks. Specifically those who practice transcendental meditation. This is a form of meditation with the sole purpose of being able to remove the conscious mind from the physical body and transporting it to the astral plane. The astral plane is the space that fills in the holes between this world and the next.

From there things become less and less structured. It stops being the metaphysical and becomes the paranormal. The search for ghosts, to prove ghosts exist, is not only a way of proving there is an afterlife, but it can also double as seeking out a consciousness that has no human form. For what is a ghost if it’s not a soul, and the soul is made up of the human consciousness.

There are other examples. Reports of bilocation, being in two places at once, and out of body experiences where you’re either transported to heaven or hell. There are simple reports of an out of body experience being your consciousness standing off to one side while the body goes on and does its thing.

None of this is proof of the conscious mind existing outside of the body. It could be that these people tap into the mainline of the subconscious and the dreaming world. So, to round things out: No, there’s no hard empirical data on whether or not a consciousness can exist outside of a physical body. There is anecdotal evidence it is possible.

If this is something you want to do further research into, I would suggest going the path of transcendental meditation. That seems to be the only “proven” way to induce an out of body experience.

If you enjoyed your daily dose of Kinsgrove please feel free to check out my other blog on Medium. Also stop by my Facebook page and give me a like. This will keep you hooked up to the up to the minute Kinsgrove news. It’s almost as much news as you’d get if you followed us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. And don’t pass up the opportunity on awesome prizes, exclusive content, and more me than you can stand, sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press now. Next to last, if you haven’t noticed the celebration, my debut novel was recently published, click this conveniently placed link to check out Cold Lunch and see exactly what happens when you piss off the most powerful vampire in the world. And, I promise I’ll shut up after this, I just wanted to ask, if you really enjoyed the content think about liking and sharing the content on all your social media channels.

Quora Questions Answered: Can I Write A Good Novel Within Two Months?

 

A lot of factors go in to answering this question. Factors like natural talent, level of skill, how many words a day, do you already have an outline, what about concrete characters, how clean are your first drafts, and how much time do you have to dedicate to the work.

With all those personal factors set aside, let’s take a look at the very basic mechanics of what it is we’re trying to do. Yes, it is possible to write a novel in two months. Cujo, by Stephen King, was an international bestseller that spawned a movie deal and millions of nightmares about Saint Bernard’s. This is the perfect example of a great novel being written in two months. But, yes, lets narrow down the context of Cujo. Cujo’s first draft was written in three days. It was a cocaine fueled loss of sanity that worked out in the most productive manner. Similarly, Lawrence Block, a mystery writer, has admitted to writing a novel in three days before. He didn’t give a name for the book, or say if it was ever published, he just said how long it took him to write it.

Another factor removed in this equation is the drafting process. Most novels go through three or four revisions (sometimes more) before the author is comfortable enough to begin submitting to publishers and agents. The drafting process is a time consuming procedure. It’s one that’s almost always necessary to help move a fair novel into good land, and to make good writing great. If you’re cutting yourself down to two months, it makes me want to ask if you’re only trying to get the first draft done in a hurry or do you plan on going to attempt full on publication; by skipping the drafting process your book is going to be missing something.

To speak from personal experience, I wrote a novella (about 5k short of 60k) in two weeks. This is a story I’ve never returned to as I know it’s filled with bad writing.

Is it possible to write a good novel in two months: yes, based on a lot of factors, it is technically possible to write a novel in two months.

Would I recommend you try to write a novel from plot to publication in two months? No, there’s just too much good that would be cut out of the process, a cut that would leave your novel at the gate with a gimp leg.

My final suggestion, aim for writing the first draft in two months. Set it aside for a month, then return to it. Do self-edits and the initial rewrite of the novel coming out with a more concrete 2nd draft. Then throw your novels to the wolves…err…beta-readers. Then comes the third draft. If you’re not satisfied with it at this point I would consider getting a professional editor to look over it. All in all, I would say you’re probably looking at six months to a year before the novel’s ready to go.

 

***Author’s Note***

If you enjoyed your daily dose of Kinsgrove please feel free to check out my other blog on Medium. Also stop by my Facebook page and give me a like. This will keep you hooked up to the up to the minute Kinsgrove news. It’s almost as much news as you’d get if you followed us on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. And don’t pass up the opportunity on awesome prizes, exclusive content, and more me than you can stand, sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press now. Next to last, if you haven’t noticed the celebration, my debut novel was recently published, click this conveniently placed link to check out Cold Lunch and see exactly what happens when you piss off the most powerful vampire in the world. And, I promise I’ll shut up after this, I just wanted to ask, if you really enjoyed the content think about liking and sharing the content on all your social media channels.

Quora Questions Answered: Were Dragons Real

The answer to this question is subjective. If you were to ask one hundred people what the answer was and how did they come to that conclusion you would get one hundred different answers. So, what I’m going to is present you with mine.

Were dragons real? Yes, they were.

How were they real, where’s the evidence of their existence? The answer is all around you, metaphorically speaking.

Evidence

How many  times do dragons appear in fantasy literature? You’d be lacking a little intellect if you didn’t say a lot. A whole hell of a lot. Tolkien, Martin, Salvatore, McCaffrey, Showalter, and the list goes on and on. Each of them presenting a different take on the dragon, and they are doing much the same thing as our ancestors when they came into direct contact with the creature.

For a little more concrete evidence we’ll add classical literature to our answer, myths and legends that date back to the earliest point of recorded history. Dragons appear in every culture’s mythos. In Medieval Europe we have the most famous interpretation of the dragon, with four legs and two wings. In China you have sea-serpent like dragons. They could fly due to magical powers, and each had some form of element incorporated into its existence. In Aztec and Mayan cultures dragons were revered as gods with Quetzalcoatl (meaning feathered serpent) standing above all others. In Egyptian mythology dragons were also revered as gods with Apep appearing “as a terrifying sea-serpent” (“Ancient Egypt-Valley of Dragons”). The Piasa or Piasa Bird is the noted Native American equivalent of the dragon.

Now ask yourself, how’s it possible that these creatures appear in the myths and legends of civilizations that had absolutely no contact with the other at the time of inception?

How

Statistically speaking, they were real. Living human beings interacted and worshipped these beasts (most of whom are said to be more intelligent than any other animal, some even say they surpassed human intelligence). They were a part of our society guiding us in a direction that suited them, and likely they build great civilizations around these dragons. Take Atlantis as the most likely representation of these civilization now wholly lost to time.

Now, let’s add to those statistics. The ocean covers 70% of the earth. How much of the ocean floor has been mapped? Answer: 5% That leaves 65% that we have no idea of what’s living there. We know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our own.

Plus, we don’t know jack about the fifth largest continent on the planet, Antarctica. We know about the desert like conditions across much of its surface, we know that Antarctica has the absolute worst weather on the planet with some circumstance bad enough to freeze you solid in minutes. But, what’s beneath the 1.2 miles of ice? There is a whole world down there as foreign to us as the surface of Mars is. What is waiting to be discovered? What kind of civilizations were there? What bones will be found? What creatures will they be adding to the fossil records?

Dragons will be one of them.

Other

There are other topics we could discuss here relating to the existence of dragons. But, for the sake of brevity I’m going to link to another one of my answers for this sort of topic. Do Dragons Exist?

 

 

Also feel free to check out my blogs at Medium and WordPress, the focus of those right now is posting these answers there, but I do other things like short stories and poetry. If you want to keep up with all the Kinsgrove related news feel free to sign up for the Kinsgrovian Press. And, as one final note, I’ve got a book for sale. It’s a horror novel with a touch of urban fantasy. If you want to check it out here is a conveniently placed link.

 

Image Credit: https://www.channelfireball.com

Quora Questions Answered: Do Dragon’s Exist?

Do Dragons Exist?

The answer to this question depends wholly on your point of view.

Existing in the real world:

I think it’s entirely possible that some form of mythological dragon exists. This isn’t based on hard evidence so much as how little we know about the world. Only about 5% of the ocean floors have been mapped. The ocean takes up 70% of the earth’s surface. So, who’s to say there isn’t a creature that would fit the description of a mythological dragon.

Another possibility is that they existed, but have gone extinct. Where’s the evidence? We’ve got dinosaur bones all over, but nothing that looks like a dragon. Where is the evidence? We’re looking in the wrong place. Antarctica is the fifth largest continent on the planet, covered by 1.2 miles of ice. What we know about Antarctica measures out to the same amount as the oceans. We don’t know what’s buried under the ice. We probably won’t in our lifetime, but one day we’ll find a whole other world on that continent.

Existing in the Metaphysical:

For this one there are a couple of other things you need to believe in.

The metaphysical, of course. This belief includes but isn’t limited to: God, gods and goddesses, angels, an afterlife be it heaven or hell or one of any other interpretations, reincarnation, past lives, and a multitude of other things.

How do dragons fit it?

Once dragons were living breathing beings, revered as gods and just as powerful. But some calamity happened, and it wiped the dragons out. Their magical essence remained. These dragon ghosts (for lack of a better term) saw humans as a way to potentially revive their race. They bound their essence to a human soul, and in that soul they laid an egg. They knew the eggs would never hatch in one human’s lifetime, but if it had a hundred or a thousand human lifetimes it would grow, mature, and hatch, and if that human was ready and willing then the dragon could manifest and become real again.

So, the dragon souls remained with the humans their egg was bound to. They go through this process each time that person’s soul is reincarnated, hoping to one day find the right variation of that soul and see their children’s wings spread wide.
A final note, when the dragons bound their souls to the humans there was a very finite number of humans. Not the roughly 9 billion souls there are now. So, the souls bearing the dragon eggs are flung far and wide, with maybe 1 in every 100,000 people gifted with the egg.

That’s just part of my belief system anyway.

How they currently exist:

Dragons of myth and legend exist just as much today as they did in the days of yore. They exist as part of these stories that have been handed down from generation to generation, and now they’ve engrained themselves into pop culture. Try finding someone who doesn’t know what a dragon is. I bet you the task will be next to impossible.

So, that’s how dragons exist. Just like our loved ones who have passed on, dragons are eternal so long as there’s one person that can speak the word.

**Author’s Note**

Just released my first novel, Cold Lunch. Check that out over at Amazon.com and if you buy it and like it leave a review for me.

Also, you can keep up with me if you join the Kinsgrovian Press. Trying to work out what would be some cool things to do with that. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

 

Image Credit: http://monster.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon