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Everything posted by SandraKruse

  1. Thanks and good luck with your novel. Sounds like it's got a lot of promising drama!

  2. FIRST ASSIGNMENT: Write your story statement. Do whatever it takes to save the boy from his father. SECOND ASSIGNMENT: Sketch the antagonist In a near-future world plagued by political, economic, and environmental woes, the creator and CEO of the worldwide network of corporate cities, Metro, has created an economically successful, alternative model to the nation state, even if built on a system of lifelong indentured servitude, and he will use whatever means necessary to expand it. The CEO rejects his first GMO son, Cade, because he changes his mind about the ideal genetic makeup of the face of Metro, and then subjects his replacement GMO son, Max, to his control and manipulation, considering the goodness he sees in him as weakness. He relentlessly pursues Ella, the android who escapes with the infant Cade, without any regard for her personhood, because, as far as he is concerned, she is his property and replication of her incredible abilities will amass a fortune for the expanding Metro empire. The CEO does not hesitate to use the millions of people at his disposal in whatever way he likes, nor does he hesitate to use his son Max’s love for Cade to trap him and lure Ella back to Metro because, to the CEO, everything—even his own son’s hopes and dreams—are expendable in the service of Metro. THIRD ASSIGNMENT: Write three breakout titles That Which Remains A Faith Worth Keeping The Sacred Guides of Stories Past FOURTH ASSIGNMENT: Genre and Comparables Speculative Fiction · Martha Wells’ All Systems Red · Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: Logline When the ruthless CEO of the indentured, corporate city Metro rejects one infant GMO son for another, an android concealing her sentience flees with the child to save him, exposing her valuable secret and catalyzing a decades-long hunt that entraps them back in Metro, where she and the CEO’s two sons must each decide what lengths they will go for freedom and what sacrifices they will make for love. SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: Protagonist’s inner conflict and secondary conflicts Inner Conflict: After escaping Metro with the help of the Acolytes of the Infinite, Ella and Cade find refuge at Wisdom Abbey. As Cade grows, Ella is fixated on keeping him safe, unable to think or do anything else but care for him and run scenarios for his safety and well-being. He is her everything. When Cade leaves at the age of 16, Ella is devastated and without purpose. Over the next decade, however, she settles into life at the abbey without him, not even realizing how she has come to value her freedom, friendships, and the regard the acolytes have for her as a person until Cade is trapped by the CEO and taken back to Metro as bait for her. As soon as Ella finds out, she rushes off to make the exchange but, when she gets there, she hesitates—finally weighing herself in the balance. She has finally embraced her personhood, and thereby feels the full weight of the sacrifice she is about to make for Cade. Secondary Conflicts 1. Who Max wants to be and who his father wants him to be. Max, the CEO’s replacement GMO son, struggles to become his own person as well, torn between his innate goodness and becoming the type of man his father wants him to be. At the climax of the novel, when the CEO finds out Max is in possession of his long-hunted sentient android, Max must reckon with Cade, Ella and his father discovering his lies and must decide once and for all what kind of a man he wants to be, the wellbeing of Cade, Ella, and millions of indentured Metro residents at stake. 2. What Cade wants and what the world needs from him. Cade leaves the abbey because he doesn’t want to stay hidden away forever and because he doesn’t agree with the acolytes’ pacifism. He knows this will devastate Ella, but he must find his own path. He goes on to become a celebrated colonel and a beloved war hero, but, after the War of Three Continents, he struggles to come to terms with his role as a military leader—people have always followed him and, in war, that meant leading them to their deaths. He stays away from Ella and the acolytes and is addicted to the painkillers he must take for his new prosthetic robotic arm. Eventually he weens himself from the medication and ekes out a quiet but tortured existence on the Greek islands. As always though, wherever he goes, people gather. In the climax of the novel, when the wellbeing of millions of Metro residents is at stake, Cade must choose whether or not to embrace his gifts and all the responsibility that comes with them. 3. Max and Cade: Gods amongst humans, lab-grown brothers raised in opposite circumstances, would-be friends and allies BUT pitted against each another by their father’s machinations and separated by the strain of unrequited love. So much conflict in this relationship. For starters, everyone flocks to Cade because they can’t help it—they love him. Max never knows if anyone truly loves him for who he is because in Metro his friendship is sought for the possibility of advancement that it brings. In the War of Three Continents, Max, using Metro-contracted technology, rescues Cade from a bombing raid in Lviv. Attracted as everyone is to Cade’s beauty and goodness, and feeling at last he has found someone in the world who could actually love him for who he is and not what he could do for him—Max falls in love with Cade, though Cade is in love with Maia, who is pregnant with his child, unbeknownst to Cade, in Greece. When Max discovers who Cade is, he tries to hide it from his father, but the CEO finds out and uses Max’s love for Cade to trap him and lure Ella back to Metro. Max is devastated, angry, and humiliated, but Cade does not hold him accountable for the sins of his father and pursues a friendship with him while trapped in Metro. When Ella discovers that Cade is prisoner in Metro, she contacts Max to make an exchange. Though Max promises to set Cade free, when the time comes, he just can’t do it because Cade is the only source of hope in his life. Instead, he lies to both of them and takes Ella to Metro Rome, keeping it secret from his father. In the climax of the novel, Max has to choose what kind of a man he wants to be, and whether or not he will let Cade go. 4. Max and Ella: Max is in great need of love, and Ella is able to give it to him, BUT as long as she is his prisoner, she is not free to truly love him. Over the few months Ella is with Max in Metro Rome, they develop a tenuous but sincere friendship, though she is his prisoner and doesn’t know he has lied to her about Cade’s freedom, failing to keep his end of the bargain. She can see Max’s goodness but also that he is conflicted and tormented by his father. When the CEO discovers Max has had Ella in his possession and has kept it from him, and she discovers that Max never released Cade, Max vows to Ella to make things right, but Ella is doubtful he will follow through. In the climax of the novel, they must each make decisions that will affect the happiness and wellbeing of the other. 5. Cade and Ella: Cade and Ella lie or withhold information from each other to protect each other from the CEO, leading Ella to believe Cade has completely rejected her and the way he was raised. FINAL ASSIGNMENT: Settings The Metro Lab Where It All Begins: Story opens in a dimly lit lab in the corporate city Metro. Everyone is packing up to go home for the night, but Ella has just received the memo for her evening duties. For thirty-eight weeks she’s been overseeing the development of the CEO’s GMO child, but the CEO is starting over with a different genetic profile and her instructions are to dispose of the specimen. She’s heard of some women—the Acolytes of the Infinite—living incognito in the lower tiers of Metro—a massive domed city that has provided food and shelter to millions in a world plagued with political, economic, and environmental woes, but built on a system of indentured servitude. If she can find these acolytes—if they even exist—maybe they will get the child out. So, into the Dregs she goes, child clutched in her arms. Down there, where the lowest tiers live, there is no squalor or chaos. Everything is scrubbed and sanitized. The people too. Sure, there are guards everywhere and you work fourteen-hour days, and you must go where you are told to go and do what you are told to do, but in Metro, even if you’re in the lowest of the lowest tiers, you will not starve. You will not freeze in the winter. Just look out for predators who might want to sell your organs on the red market or rent you out for the night. Wisdom Abbey: After an acolyte dies helping Ella and the child, Cade, escape through an air vent, they find refuge with the Acolytes of the Infinite at Wisdom Abbey, whose grounds abut those of Fort Knox. Cade spends a lot of time in the woods watching the soldiers train, while Ella watches over him. The abbey is a place of peace and rest and goodness. A refuge in every sense of the word. As idyllic as Cade’s childhood is, as he grows into a young man, he begins to feel stifled living with twenty “mothers” hovering over him and never getting to see the world. The War of Three Continents: When Cade comes of age, he leaves to fight in the War of Three Continents, where he becomes a beloved colonel. His idealism is shattered, however, by scenes of dead soldiers, tortured children, trafficked women, and, finally, by the fact that his troops have willingly followed him to their deaths. When Cade he is trapped behind enemy lines in Lviv, he almost dies in an artillery attack. The Lonely Stone: Max tracks Cade to the island of Andros, where for weeks, young people from all over the Greek islands have been gathering for a nightly bacchanalia around the Lonely Stone—the pylon of a bridge destroyed in the Truth Campaigns—convinced that Cade, who scales its massive height and makes a sort of retreat up there, is actually of the Olympian gods. Max contrives a spontaneous-looking encounter with Cade, and they meet for the first time atop the Lonely Stone, on heights befitting gods. The Bling-Bling in Metro: The CEO tracks Max tracking Cade, consequently capturing Cade and bringing him back to Metro. But Cade isn’t in some prison cell or scrubbed down bunkhouse in the Dregs. Cade is in the Bling Bling with the upper tiers, living the high life, his social life broadcast on the MetroLife Channel, all designed by the CEO to lure Ella back to Metro. To the outside world—to Ella—it looks like Cade has become part of the Metro elite, but he’s very much a prisoner—just playing a part so that Ella will believe he has chosen to go there and won't turn herself in. Cade begins spending more and more of his credits and time with the lower tiers, trying to alleviate some of their suffering, and the reader gets an in-depth look at how vulnerable the residents are to those running black and red markets there. The Mountains of Naxos: While Cade is in Metro, Ella—who fled the abbey when the CEO closed in on her and stowed away on a ship to try to find Cade in Naxos—is hiding up in the mountains on a goat farm with Cade’s lover Maia and her father. She has a chance to be close to Cade’s child in a way she would never let herself be close to Cade when he was growing up out of fear of damaging his emotional and psychological development. The Pantheon in Rome: When Ella discovers the truth of Cade’s position in Metro, she contacts Max to make the trade. Not wanting Metro to discover Maia and the child, Ella sets up a meeting at the Pantheon in Rome. Max and Ella meet in the temple, and Ella gives up her freedom for Cade beneath the oculus—the eye of all the gods. An Underground Lab in Metro Rome: Ella spends several months in an underground bunker lab at Metro Rome where Max has a team testing her abilities and trying to figure out what made her sentient. He tries to make her situation pleasant, but she is his prisoner. They spend time together in her cell, which he has painted like the Raphael’s Room of the Segnatura.
  3. "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard (a look at the struggle) How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? It helped me to trust your assignment to rewrite my opening 5000 words in third person. (She is brutal in “killing all her darlings.” The beginning of my book was the oldest part and containing the original idea—I had started it seven years ago, then it lay buried during many hard years. I was overly attached to it as it was. I don’t know if I’ll keep it in third person but the whole enterprise liberated me from what I had written and it is much improved because of it. Annie’s ruthless approach to this was helpful. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1. Well, she’s not the overly prescriptive type, except for telling readers to get an axe and a table, but I did get liberated from the beginning of her book to kill my darlings—see above. 2. Her writing is idea oriented, which is the way I lean, but she conveys her ideas through life experiences in well drawn metaphors—it inspires me to do it better—avoid the telling and focus on the showing. 3. Best of all: “Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right way, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book. Give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water.” Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what were they? Nothing contradicts but she isn’t focusing on the nuts and bolts of writing a commercially viable book so much as getting writers to “ride the point of the line to the possible” and then “wind it down to show.” "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass (another good primer) How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? My take away from this book is to crank everything up so that, like Nigel’s amp in Spinal Tap, it all goes to eleven. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1.Liberate yourself from real characters—if your characters are based on real live people, you still need to make them unique and memorable—but not necessarily over the top or grotesque. 2.Always find a way to raise the stakes. 3.Conflicts should be deep and credible—you can have high stakes (like the world will end if…) but if there isn’t personal investment and cost and sacrifice, drama is hollow. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what were they? No! It pretty much reinforces the idea that commercially viable books are not quiet books, while also giving a lot of point-by-point information on how to make them sizzle. "Write Away" by Elizabeth George (a no nonsense primer, and humorous) How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? The description of her process helped me the most. I like how she gets the story down before she starts writing--I got the same idea from Story by Robert McKee. I have to think about it more though…Annie Dillard is about following the line of writing, Stephen King is about getting an interesting premise and then seeing what happens when you have characters begin to interact. Not sure which suits me best, but I do like her model. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1. Use idioms to help establish a character’s voice. 2. THAD! 3. Self-discipline is the deciding factor in getting published, if you have talent or passion. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what were they? Well, she says there are no rules! But she sets down a lot of them that correspond with the class, so.... “The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner (a great primer for this commercial program) How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? I learned a lot from this book. It has the most underlines out of all the books I read for this class. Highlights: A trust in my aesthetic judgments and instincts is crucial to giving what I write power. That because art has power, the author has a responsibility to its readers to be truthful but also not to crush it with despair—some people might take issue with his take on this, but I find it compelling, and interesting that he says it so boldly. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1. A good writer should try to get everything across through dialogue and action. (Hard to balance when you have a lot of interior rumination.) 2. Climaxes need to be inevitable and surprising. 3. Don’t distract the reader from the fictional dream by using symbols too flagrantly. Since my book is allegorical, I need to walk this fine line. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what were they? Nothing comes to mind…he doesn’t use the six act two goal model (most books/web sites don’t) but the essential plot structure is there.
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