Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: plot

Friday Fantasy ~ Number Sixteen


The Plot Thickens . . .

~ I am the words you’re reading—my name is Story and I’m in a bind… 

It feels like I’m on an island with just enough space to walk in a small circle.

All directions seem the same

In fact, there are too many directions I can take—one huge swarm of ways to proceed, each buzzing in my ear, each promising—something

Then there are the things below the tiny hut I have—scritching around, gnawing at my nerves

I think I’ll take a swim.

But

Those fish seem so big

Can’t just stand here—can’t not move forward………

Damn !

I’ll die if I don’t do something !!

O.K., o.k., calm down.

There’s water, sand

Wood ! The hut !

Tear it down with my bare hands !?

~~~

Hours later I lay on the sand, a heap of exhaustion with a pile of wood next to me.

Nails but no hammer

No rope

What’s that?

Crawling up out of the sand where the hut was

Like a rat—two now, three

I grab the largest board in the stack and start whacking away, killing ten of whatever the hell they are.

Long with large, horny heads

They seem to be stiffening up, losing their hair—look almost like a bunch of organic hammers

Damn !

~~~

Didn’t take that long to get the nails out of the boards with my horrific little hammers but each of the ten only lasted a short while—they’re all smashed to pulp, stinking something awful

Wait——what? More sand?

Looks like my little island has grown into a narrow peninsula.

But peninsulas connect to larger landmasses

Don’t see any such thing.

~~~

After a longer walk than I first thought it would take, I find the mainland Need a nap

~~~

I wake in the middle of the night.

No moon.

Plenty of weird sounds

Is that a light over there?

Pulsing

I head towards it and the frequency seems to begin matching the pace of my walking.

I walk faster.

The light pulses faster.

I reach the light and it engulfs me—my mind churns, my skin crawls

I pass out.

~~~

Daylight.

I’m lying on the grass at the edge of a small village.

Someone’s approaching

Man in a business suit !?

I sit up as he reaches me.

He says, “What are you doing here?”

“I don’t know

“What’s your name?”

“Story

“You sure?”

“Yes—why?”

“That’s my name, too

~~~

We talk for hours and finally come to a decision—-find our greatly confused author

Copyright, 2014, Alexander M Zoltai
Read More Friday Fantasy

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Very Special Characters


All the characters in a well-written story are “special” or they wouldn’t be there–each has their part to play, minor or major.

Major characters often determine plot elements and most writers build the story around them. That last sentence may seem obvious but I’ve read books that have been rewritten from a different character’s point of view yet kept the same plot elements and flow. Check out Ender’s Shadow as one example.

Minor characters often are radically changed as the writing of a book proceeds (Majors can be, too, but that “usually” changes the plot structure); yet, these secondary folk can sometimes surprise a writer.

Take the character Morna, an artificial intelligence, in my recently published book, Notes from An Alien.

I thought she would only be in the first chapter. She soon changed my mind and became, if not a major character, a recurring significant character. In fact, the last words of the book are hers.

I even ended a blog post with those words and, for those interested, you may want to read, How I Had To Change Myself In Order To Write My Book…, to explore how much of an author ends up in a book’s plot and characters

So, we’ve touched on minor, significant, and major characters. What about Very Special Characters?

The book, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder has characters that could be considered Meta–they actually begin considering their place in the book and ponder its plot.

Sena Quaren, the “co-author” of Notes from An Alien, steps out of the story and asks the reader to consider if the book is truth or fiction.

The bulk of Notes from An Alien happens in another star-system and almost all the characters have no knowledge of Earth, yet Sena’s daughter, Ararura, writes the last chapter and speaks directly to the Earth-bound reader.

Have you come across any Very Special Characters in your reading?

Have you created any or do you think you might?

Can you imagine other classes of Very Special Characters?

Please, do share your thoughts and experience in the comments :-)

[ Edit: check out the follow-up post—Very Special Characters ~ Revisited ]
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How I Had To Change Myself In Order To Write My Book…


Eleven years ago, I was 54 years old and just beginning, finally, to mature.

I’d been seriously studying the issue of Global Peace for about twelve years.

I hadn’t quite got the principles from my head to my heart

I saw a Tweet the other day that said: If the author doesn’t cry, the reader doesn’t cry.

Eleven years ago, I did, in fact, start letting myself cry more

In the post, Publishing Day Thoughts…, I gave a timeline for all the major writerly events that led up to my publishing Notes from An Alien yesterday; but, the deeply emotional transformations I made on that path, the psychological and mental growth that the feelings led to, and the application of Principles of Peace in my daily life weren’t in that post

It’s one thing to have a Theme burning in your heart and tantalizing your mind; it’s quite another state of affairs
to live through the changes necessary to turn that Theme into a Plot alive with Characters who live the story.

I had to become, in essence, the characters I would eventually meet once I hand my hands on the plot. I began meeting my characters about a year ago. They were all aliens living in a star-system twelve light-years from Earth.

Acutely appropriate for a guy who’d usually felt like an alien himself :-)

Most importantly, I had to use what I’d learned of resignation and sacrifice during ten years of growing up and make a place in my mind and heart for Sena Quaren, the “co-author” of the book.

I think an author has to have a submissive ego to truly let their characters come alive. If the ego can’t get out of the way long enough for the author to form a relationship with their characters, the book will either never get written or be written in a hackneyed and stilted style.

Until eleven years ago, I’d been living a hackneyed and stilted life. Even though there were eruptions of authenticity over the years, I was more amorphous than substantial, more tentative than responsible, more dream-like than imaginative.

I salute the pain suffered in that crucible of preparation. I see it all as a worthy discipline–my paying of long-deferred dues

So, all-told, I’ve been studying and learning how to live Peace for 23 years and all that effort has reached a culmination in a rather slim book–dense with promise, pregnant with its successor, facing a World of greed and war and holding aloft a banner with words uttered by one of its characters, Morna: “Patience is our weapon of choice.”
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Publishing Day Thoughts…


Eleven years ago: I was given a Theme for a book. Wrote some of the opening scenes.

Nine years ago: the Theme changed its Plot-potential. Did extensive research and outlining.

Six years ago: the Theme changes Plot-potential again. Wrote a few pages.

Eighteen months ago: I finally had the right Plot ideas for the Theme.

One year ago: I had a scene-by-scene outline written. I began the story’s promotion in the virtual world, Second Life.

Eleven months ago: I began the actual writing.

Eight months ago: I had a full first draft. Did some major revising.

Four months ago: the manuscript was back from the Editor.

Three months ago: the manuscript was approved by a special Review Office.

Since three months ago: about 18 small changes were made in the manuscript.

Please note: since a year ago, I’ve been involved in a constant effort to promote the book through various means. If you really want to know more about all that, check out these past posts on various aspects of my promotion trail (which, by the way, will not by any means end with today’s official publishing act [more on that act tomorrow]):

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Where Do Writers Find Their Ideas?


From that little bunny that pops out of the magician’s hat?

From dragons who’ve run out of knights to fight?

From bookies who moonlight as creative content dispensers?

Ya think??

One of the most common sources claimed for the brilliant ideas writers sometimes display is the fabled Muse. I’ll come back to that source in a minute…

Some writers steal their ideas.

I’m not talking about plagiarism. What they do is “borrow” plots, characters, or themes from books they’ve read. Then, they dress them in different clothes, do some creative plastic surgery, or otherwise mold them into more original guises.

Some people contend there are an extremely limited number of plots and character types available to humans and all writers are always dipping into that pool of dreams. This relates to the Muse and I’ll bring it back up shortly…

There are writers who will tell you there is no magic or psychological mystery to how they come up with ideas for stories. These folks are in the minority and just might be unaware that they’re attributing far to much power to their naturally-limited conscious mind…

Most of us don’t go around all day, or sit at our desks all day, and remain aware of the vast territories of a resource we all share, the Collective Unconscious.

Apparently, we all have a rich storehouse of Archetypes, deep in a space in our minds, that holds idea-complexes that “drive” us to create stories; or, if we don’t take care of our mental hygiene, drive us to sociopathic acts. Hence, many writers’ conversations about the therapeutic value of their work…

The archetypes of the collective unconscious include powerful, basic ideas represented as mythic characters like: The Mother, The Virgin, The Hag, The Hero, The Child, The Lover, The Beast, and, of course, the Beloved Muse who seems to be destined to carry these ideas from their deep haunts up to the light of the writer’s conscious mind…

All this psycho-mumble may or may not be true. But, the entire contents of a book that thrills us and helps us change our lives may or may not be true…

I’m betting on the bookie :-)
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Where do your bright ideas come from?
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