Today, Matthew Cox is taking over the blog with his new book Prophet of the Badlands and a little bit about how he gets started in the writing process. (Me, I fall into the pantsing category!) Make sure you scroll down for a synopsis of Prophet of the Badlands. Thanks for stopping by FP,TD, Matthew! Take it away.
Outlining or Pantsing
If you spend any length of time around people who write, you’ll invariably hear someone mention ‘outlining’ or ‘pantsing’ in regards to how an author goes about creating the story. Outliners (or plotters) have a tendency to map out the story ahead of the actual writing, conceiving how events will occur from beginning to end and all points in between. A pantser (from flying/writing by the seat of one’s pants) sits down at a blank page and starts hammering away, letting the story go where it may.
I am an outliner… mostly. Years ago when I first got the idea to write something like a novel, I sat down and attempted to write and see where it got me. Alas, it got me about forty pages in and stuck. I gave up for a while until I figured out the reason I was spinning my wheels―I was trying to do too many things at the same time: write, think up a story, think up characters, figure out what’s going on, create a setting, and figure out how the characters handle what’s thrown at them. In short, I spent a lot of time staring at the ceiling (Facebook didn’t exist then.)
It wasn’t working for me.
This of course led to discouragement and a long break. When I finally got it in my head, “I will finish something I start, dammit,” I decided to plan the story first. Nowadays, I get an idea for a character (or characters) in my head, and then spend a couple weeks building out the key points of a story in the form of a chapter outline. I write down short notes of key events, details, plot twists, sometimes lines of dialogue that come to me in the outlining phase, and sort them into the order that makes the most sense. Usually, the arrangement isn’t too difficult (though Awakened #6 was quite a project in that regard since the POV interleaves among five [well, okay six] characters with their own individual subplots all the while an overarching story continues to move ahead in a straight line).
The chapter outlines can contain anything from a detailed (sometimes 200-300 words) explanation of what needs to happen in that chapter to something as simple as ‘fight with demon here.’ This is why I used ‘mostly’ before. When I have a chapter with a one-sentence explanation, the way it flows can come out a little different than I intended. Once the chapters are outlined and titled, I carry the whole thing (like a lump of wet clay) over to Word, and start the drafting process.
While I am an outliner, I am not beholden to serve the Outline God. While writing Prophet of the Badlands, there was a scene where I had planned for something to happen a certain way. When I got to that point, Althea had other plans… Since one of the major story elements of Prophet is her transition from a fearful, complacent captive to a strong girl willing to stand up for herself, there was no way I could resist when she demanded a change.
I like to think of the outline as a spine on which to hang the meat of a story. Sometimes the spine needs to be broken and reshaped, but having a roadmap to follow has thus far prevented me from being stuck again.
Prophet of the Badlands , The Awakened (#1)
by Matthew S. Cox
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Genres: Adult, Cyberpunk, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Release date: April 26, 2015
For most twelve year olds, being kidnapped is terrifying. For Althea, it’s just Tuesday.
Her power to heal the wounded and cleanse the sick makes her a hunted commodity in the Badlands, a place devoid of technology where the strong write the law in blood. For as long as she can remember, they always come, they always take her, and she lets them. Passed around in an endless series of abductions, she obeys without question―mending those who killed to own her.
After three whole months in the same village, the affection of a young warrior makes her feel almost like a member of the tribe rather than a captive. Her brief joy shatters when raiders seize her yet again; for the first time in six years, being stolen hurts.
A reluctant escape sends her wandering, and she realizes her gift is a prize that causes as much death as it prevents. Her attempt to return to the tribe leaves her lost and alone, hounded at every turn. When a family who sees her not as the Prophet―but as a little girl―takes her in, she finds the courage to use her power to protect those she loves.
A strange man from a world beyond her imagining tests her newfound resolve, seeking to use her power to further his own agenda. Tired of being property, her freedom boils down to one question:
Can Althea balance the sanctity with which she holds all life against the miserable truth that some people deserve to die?
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Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.
He is also fond of cats.
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