Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Quest

A couple of weeks ago while I was struggling, yet again, to get a real handle on Crucible of War, I realized that my problem was plotting the story. I have a collection of scenes and notes, but weaving them together into a coherent whole wasn’t happening. I’ve lived with my characters long enough now that I know their souls quite well, though, of course, as is true with real people, they still surprise me from time to time. That’s what keeps things interesting. At this point in the series, however, the overarching story has become too complex for me to do my usual seat-of-the-pants plotting as I write each volume.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there was nothing for it except to buckle down and—gasp—outline the plot! Although I generally resist being that organized, obviously I wasn’t going to make much progress until I did. Sooo I took the plunge. First I decided it would help tremendously to have the main characters’ inner and outer quests up at the top of the document where I can easily refer to them as I develop each act. It helped that I’d already outlined the specific goals, motivation, and conflict for each main character in this volume as well as for the book, which made this part a relative piece of cake. Here’s what I ended up with.

  • General George Washington
    outer quest—keep his army together and strike a decisive blow against the British.
    inner quest—to earn the respect of friends and foes alike, to protect his reputation, and to return in triumph to the peaceful life of a Virginia planter.
  • General William Howe
    outer quest—wear the Americans down through a series of blows that will finally force them to surrender.
    inner quest—build his reputation and maintain his position, all while indulging in gambling and the charms of his mistress as much as possible.
  • Jonathan Carleton/White Eagle
    outer quest—to define his identity as Shawnee warrior/white officer, to help the Americans win independence, and to successfully advocate for his people .
    inner quest: to build a life with Elizabeth, to finally learn to trust her completely, to come to know the depths of her soul.
  • Elizabeth Howard
    outer quest—to overcome Howe, defeat Britain, and help gain independence for the Americans.
    inner quest—to build a life with Carleton, to nurture his soul and heal his deepest wounds.
  • Charles Andrews/Golden Elk
    outer quest—to help the Americans gain independence, and then go home to his adoptive people in peace.
    inner quest—to become a true Shawnee husband to Blue Sky, father to their children, and member of the tribe.

It’s a beginning. I’ll refine this and make it more specific to this volume as I develop the story. In my next post, I’ll go into the actual plot outline, which I’ve organized in 3 acts.

No comments:

Post a Comment