An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 11

Not so much a developmental entry…rather, a character motivation entry.

I came across this idea applied between comrades (soldiers, sailors, marines) about mission and dedication from We Are Soldiers Still:

where the reasons for war are lacking, soldiers fight and die for each other

For my writing, I need to re-purpose this, starting with:

I’m fighting for my buddies’ lives.

This attitude is one I subscribe to.  Then I began to think of variations that swapped object and subject:

You’re here to fight and die for me.

This grandiose attitude is one I encountered frequently, and it was often traded off with:

You’re here to fight and die for country.

This manipulative attitude takes the prior egotistical one and wraps it in patriotism.

So, what to take from this?  The first is the profile of the Hero.  The second is the profile of the genuine antagonist.  The third is the profile of the abstract antagonist or the antagonist’s minions.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 9

SPOILER ALERT (kind of): contains tech talk.
An Author’s Inspiration is an old-school program run from a terminal you open in the distribution folder.  An Author’s Inspiration is called a command-line program, because you enter the name of the program (story) as a command to the operating system to start it.  An Author’s Inspiration then reads files you have already edited, and it writes an output file called outline.  The End.

P.S. Then there are variations upon this basic command called parameters.  In old-school designs, you the user would supply additional words beyond entering story to invoke special operations in An Author’s Inspiration.  These are called parameters and they are often very specific words.  The discussion that follows introduces a rabbit hole for me, the designer, to trod lightly around before I make the plunge.

With each move I make towards applying An Author’s Inspiration towards my second series X-Division, I am finding more useful options I should be adding to increase utility.

One in particular relates to the multiplicity of novels I am staging out for writing later.  This means having multiple copies of An Author’s Inspiration in different WIP folders.  That wouldn’t be so bad, but during development, having to keep track of daily/hourly updates to files is a chore in itself.

So this leads me to the observation that I could have command line parameters (in fact, I already do, but not) to handle pathing from one executable, An Author’s Inspiration, towards each of my novels as works in progress inhabiting their own directories.  This, then, raises another need that I feel closing in on me: some characters are continuing characters, where would they reside within this broadened file system?

Answer: another command line parameter to point towards a character folder.  In technical terms, the drive for layering of needs into what is called a parameter list is called infinite regress.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 8

I will be continuing discussion on my crisis of selection mentioned in entry 7, but I almost doubled down on that last night as I reviewed things in my head (not in the code, which is more trustworthy).

What could possibly push the red-button this far into the design?

Well, anything that touches deep into the design is a red-button panic moment…this reaches deep into character design: age.

I needed to have an entry for character description that included their age.  This is a key into what I call life milestone events.  I have that for the age at which a character becomes traumatized, but I had lost track if I had an entry for the character’s current age.

In reviewing the code (and the outline bears this out immediately), I find I have both ages available to An Author’s Inspiration to work with.  It reminds me (what caused the panic) that I don’t fully use their current age to reveal how the stress of each beat distorts their existential issues.  (Age is a key into an extensive file of challenges and accomplishments that are associated with stages of life.)

So, the panic button is released.  There is more to do to integrate and add depth to character motivation such as seeking a mentor, or abandoning poor life choices.

An Author’s Inspiration – First Outline Generated

 

The Order Of The Phoenix
JK Rowling
(C)2003

 

Generated by An Author’s Inspiration
An A.I. product designed by RW Clark (C)2017
visit www.secondroot.com

None of these attributions may be removed from A.I. generated files

 

Wade (Wade Jarvis)
Connie (John Constantine)
Harry (Harry Smith)
Dusty (Dusty Smith)
Kent (Kent Smith)
Eugene (Eugene Smith)
Russ (Russell Smith)
Donna (Donna Smith)
Mary (Mary Smith)
Cindy (Cindy Smith)
Toppy (John Smith)
Swede (Lars Svenson)

 

Beat 1 spanning from 0 percent to 10 percent in Act 1

Establishing Scene
Describe the protagonist and main characters and their relationships.
For here and throughout, name those who are already present, who are entering the scene, and who are leaving the scene.

Outside the Dursley home
Characters already in place: Harry
Characters entering: Dumbledore, Lily and James
Characters leaving: Dumbledore, Lily and James

Beat 2 spanning from 0 percent to 10 percent in Act 1

The World As We Know It
Described as life in the comfort zone and show the protagonist in a moment of authenticity

Characters already in place: Hermione
Characters entering: Hagrid
Characters leaving: Hagrid

Beat 3 spanning from 0 percent to 10 percent in Act 1

State the Theme in terms of Threat on the Horizon
Describe how the world is shifting with the protagonist seeing beyond the comfort zone into the risk zone

Characters already in place: Ron
Characters entering: Vernon, Dudley and Marge
Characters leaving:

Beat 4 spanning from 0 percent to 10 percent in Act 1

Plot Hook
Doubt arises Unfinished business

Characters already in place: Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 5 spanning from 10 percent to 20 percent in Act 1

Inciting Incident
An incident confronts the protagonist whose attempts to deal with it lead to a dramatic incident

train platform
Characters already in place: Harry, Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 6 spanning from 10 percent to 20 percent in Act 1

Indecision
The protagonist receives a challenge and weighs the consequences of action/inaction

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Harry and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 7 spanning from 20 percent to 25 percent in Act 1

First Turning Point
The protagonist makes a decision and crosses from the comfort zone to the risk zone

Characters already in place: Harry and Hermione
Characters leaving:

Beat 8 spanning from 20 percent to 25 percent in Act 1

Rising Action
The protagonist attempts to adjust to the choice to move out of a former comfort zone and into the risk zone

Characters already in place: Harry and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 9 spanning from 20 percent to 25 percent in Act 1

The World At Risk
Present the rules of the new world and events that will allow the protagonist to grow outside of the earlier comfort zone and describe life in the risk zone

Characters already in place: Hermione and Ron
Characters entering: Snape
Characters leaving:

Beat 10 spanning from 25 percent to 40 percent in Act 2

Gaining Support
Show how the protagonist is unable to resolve their problems because they need new skills to deal with their challenge; Present how to learn new skills is for them to arrive at a higher sense of awareness of self and their capabilities; Achieve this through introducing mentors and co-protagonists

Characters already in place: Harry and Hermione
Characters entering: Snape
Characters leaving:

Beat 11 spanning from 25 percent to 40 percent in Act 2

Introduce B Story
Why The Theme Matters; In relation to the themes built into the B Story

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 12 spanning from 25 percent to 40 percent in Act 2

Why We Should Watch out
aka Pinch Point

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Harry and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 13 spanning from 40 percent to 50 percent in Act 2

Initiative
Present the protagonist doing what they would not have done in act one; based on what they have gained through other support; Compare the former naif to the current apprentice in terms of What the Theme Promises

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 14 spanning from 40 percent to 50 percent in Act 2

Midpoint
Present a severe setback to the protagonist initiative due to hidden danger; Here things go from bad to worse

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Harry, Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 15 spanning from 50 percent to 60 percent in Act 2

The World In Danger
Describe life in the danger zone

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Harry, Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 16 spanning from 50 percent to 60 percent in Act 2

False Win or False Loss
Describe a possible early confrontation; as simple as a feint

Characters already in place: Harry
Characters leaving:

Beat 17 spanning from 50 percent to 60 percent in Act 2

Sides Regroup

Characters already in place: Harry and Hermione
Characters leaving:

Beat 18 spanning from 60 percent to 70 percent in Act 2

More Why We Should Worry
aka Pinch Point

Characters already in place: Harry and Hermione
Characters leaving:

Beat 19 spanning from 60 percent to 70 percent in Act 2

Second Turning Point The Crisis
Dramatize how the protagonist constructs a plan learned from failure

Characters already in place: Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 20 spanning from 60 percent to 70 percent in Act 2

Contemplation
Locker room PEP talk; Talk it up WON; Talk it down LOST

Characters already in place: Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 21 spanning from 70 percent to 80 percent in Act 2

Take on the Troopers
Describe a confrontation where a valuable prize is gained or lesson is learned; This is conflict en masse among the troops

Characters already in place: Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 22 spanning from 70 percent to 80 percent in Act 2

New Information
aka 2nd Plot Point

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Ron
Characters entering: Hagrid
Characters leaving:

Beat 23 spanning from 70 percent to 80 percent in Act 3

Climax Level 3
Close with the resolution of the story and its subplots where the tensions of the story are brought to their most dramatic intensity and the challenge is won

Characters already in place: Harry, Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 24 spanning from 70 percent to 80 percent in Act 3

Remove Low Hurdles; Take On The Lieutenants
Describe resolutions to simple problems; This is conflict between the competing front line staff

Characters already in place: Harry, Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 25 spanning from 80 percent to 90 percent in Act 3

Climax Level 2; Remove Mid Hurdles; Take on the Captains
Describe resolutions to modest problems; This is conflict between the competing General staff

Hogwarts
Characters already in place: Harry, Hermione and Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 26 spanning from 90 percent to 100 percent in Act 3

The New World
Describe life in the new comfort zone which boundaries have extended into the former risk zone and pushed out the boundary of the danger zone; Show how the protagonist and other characters have a new sense of who they really are; Compare the prior journeyman to the current master

Characters already in place: Ron
Characters leaving:

Beat 27 spanning from 90 percent to 100 percent in Act 3

Climax Level 1; Remove Highest Hurdle; Take On The General
Describe the resolution in terms of the theme; This is the conflict between the warring Generals personality

Characters already in place: Hermione
Characters leaving:

Beat 28 spanning from 99 percent to 100 percent in Act 3

The New Risk Zone; The New Danger Zone
Hint of new regions of growth or stagnation

Characters already in place: Harry
Characters entering: Hagrid
Characters leaving: Hagrid and Dumbledore

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 6

Strategies

To this point, the ship of The Order of the Phoenix has been rechristened to a title in my X-Division Assignment series.  A new crew has signed on.  Some of their jobs are plotted, some still have vestiges of the old crew’s assignments.  A new course has been set, but we may still be sailing in the fog—the distracting elements of Harry Potter linger.  And yet and all, An Author’s Inspiration accepts everything as if it were your intention, and it satisfies its purpose in integrating everything into a comprehensive outline.

Here is where strategy emerges.  A lot of rough edges, as you find them in the outline, sets an agenda for future shifts of character, coloring of setting, or stressing the plot.  Some of the distracting elements are inconsequential compared to the glaring clashes that pop out.

The inconsequential can be left unedited.  This is because they may disappear entirely (either in the original or in their early edit) when a major clash is resolved.  For me, it is better to resolve the major clash first.  Even the minor psychological traits of my characters go unedited in the early transformation away from The Order of the Phoenix.

So, that leaves my attention on the glaring clashes.  A clash can by a warning signal that escaped my attention while I was fantasizing how wonderful my story was.  Equally, a clash can simply be the POV (point of view character) is wrong.  One is a simple mechanical fix, like change the POV.  The other can be a complex psychological solution, a tangle of knots to be untied through assigning the correct community to my character (the character’s follower, partner, nemesis, and so on).

A clash can arrive where in the first crisis I have put to much stress on my hero so that the climax seems tepid in comparison.  This is typically a story.plot editing issue, but it may also reveal a poorly described character—or a very serious problem where both files are fighting each other.  A similar clash can arrive in the form that my climax arrives halfway through my intended book length (it normally arrives much later) and leaves my characters depleted and lost in the vastness of celebrating victory too soon.  This is an equally serious problem that will be laid out baldly in the outline.

These choices and changes relate to strategy where the writer can focus their tactical choices in the progression of beats that all add to a successful campaign at the end of the story.

This also brings me to my Aha! moments as they were inspired through my observations in developing my own works.  Their description will follow.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 5

Refinements

So, to this point, much of the how and why of An Author’s Inspiration is superficial and mechanical.  As the saying goes, however, the Devil’s in the details—so is the inspiration of developing character, plot and story-line.

Once story.plot has had all traces of Harry Potter characters by name removed, then their character files can be removed from the work folder.  This instruction is also mechanical in nature, but it reduces the clutter of their hanging around in the outline and distracting you from your own work.  Run An Author’s Inspiration to confirm the removal of all these character files has resulted in a generated outline containing only your characters.

However, removing these files may not remove all traces of the old Harry Potter characters from the outline.  That is because they probably live on inside your character files that were copied to your purposes.  That is, your heroine of Francesca may still follow Dumbledore, she may, in turn, be followed by Ron Weasley, and so on.  These old characters (now unsupported by character files) persist because you will not have adequately edited the contents of Francesca.character.  These rough edges survive and do nothing to derail the generation of the outline, but neither do they move the plot forward.

The take-home is that a lot of debris from the old outline lives on, but is easily changed to match your vision of your character in your plot design of your original story.  This is done in field edits of the Francesca.character file and story.plot.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 4

As I move through the routine of recasting from a story from The Order of the Phoenix to one of my own in my X-Division Assignment series, I have the options of renaming characters, changing the plot, changing the setting, and more.  Or, I can do a wholesale restart, from the ground up, so to speak.

Well, as practiced as I am at using my software (I did this once, after all, for TOOTP), I’ve also encountered the astonishing mess that can come from wholesale changes.  For sanity’s sake, let’s step away from massive shifts toward slight modifications of the characters supplied in the distribution of An Author’s Inspiration.

One at a time, I add my own characters and run An Author’s Inspiration to test how the new character fits into the generated outline.  If all goes well, I add another.  Repeating this process brings in a new cast who has yet to be integrated into the plot, but I am safe with my characters, as far as they go (possibly because they were cut and pastes over duplicates of the Harry Potter characters).

So, for those that need clear directions: copy (duplicate) one of the The Order of the Phoenix characters into a new character file.  For instance, if your heroine is called Francesca, take Harry.character and copy it to Francesca.character.  That alone is sufficient for your first move.  Leave Harry.character alone (it will be removed later).  From there, second and following moves all go to editing the contents of Francesca.character to match the characteristics you think Francesca exhibits (or hides).

Repeat the paragraph above for each of your other characters.  Feel free to re-brand Harry Potter character files with your own characters as that seems natural.  In time, and through your editing of them, these original characters will fade away to leave the flower of your creation to blossom.

The next step is to put those characters into story.plot, a configurable file that the writer edits to describe setting and plot points across 29 beats.

For those that need clear directions: edit story.plot so that it contains your character names (replace Harry Potter character names with your character names).  That alone is sufficient for your first move with this file.  At this time, ignore all other entries—leave them alone for now.  Run An Author’s Inspiration to test how the new story.plot fits into the generated outline.

These steps alone are sufficient to turn the ship of The Order of the Phoenix onto a new course toward my X-Division Assignment series’ destination.  The outline generated by An Author’s Inspiration still reveals many of the Harry Potter characters and plot situations, but like a suntan in late September, that will fade as we progress through owning the final outline.

Those refinements, and the strategies involved will follow.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 3

With the background established, I move on to my own experience using An Author’s Inspiration.  As I am also the designer, it allows me to adjust the design of the software to suit short-falls, add flexibility, and to create new features that were unanticipated during early stages.

The first thing that hit me was about the design at a fundamental level.  I had planned on the writer having the ability to write free form notes into unlimited text fields.  Unfortunately, that design has constraints.  The writer cannot use punctuation in this text (that made it easy to write the code).  However, I as the writer need the ability to separate ideas into sentences, and this put demands upon me as the designer to step up to the plate to make that happen at a very fundamental level.

So, the first lesson of using my own software is to add a robust method to allow me to enter complete paragraphs with punctuated sentences into the text field.  This will be mildly complex, and demand deep testing as changes at the fundamental level can cast dramatic problems into what should be high level subtleties.

An Author’s Inspiration Development Journal Entry 1

I have decided to start a journal to express the Aha! moments that are arriving now.  However, some background is needed to say how I got to such moments.

I have put in roughly six months (or 1,000 hours) of design and development of the idea I call An Author’s Inspiration.  In fair market prices for a senior software developer, that would bill out at $80,000.  There is more design and coding to go, but I am at a beta release version of 0.7 that suits many functions I set out to achieve.  Going the distance from beta release version 0.7 to product release version 1.0 places new appeals to my designer’s inspiration.

I am currently re-purposing my beta for use in my own fiction writing, and I am discovering short-falls of design.  In the culture of software design, using my own product is know as “eating your own dog food.”  That is, in my release package, I have files designed specifically for Harry Potter in The Order of the Phoenix.  I am not writing a Harry Potter story.  As needs must, I have to replace those configurable files with files that describe my own story with its own characters.

Currently, beta version 0.7 does that very well.  That is, An Author’s Inspiration has exceptional flexibility, allowing for many levels of character and plot invention and tailoring by the writer.  It presents the writer’s effort with a fully fleshed out psychological tone map of their story in a linear outline format.

And on this point of tone map my design effort turns (and eating my own dog food emerges).  As I modify the distribution files I am beginning to see the shape of how I might proceed outside of the forced linearity of the process.  Fortunately, An Author’s Inspiration‘s flexibility allows the writer to leave out many details, and develop them later.  I designed that feature deliberately, and as a writer using An Author’s Inspiration, I find it brings me considerable relief not to have to decide every character trait from the outset.

More to follow.