By Cristia HJ Who said a writer’s job is easy-peasy? Well, it’s far from being a stress-free task, especially if we want to entertain our readers in …Plot Structure Formula: Craft an Engaging Story
My debut novel is FINALLY coming out into the world, next month!! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! It’ll be available on Amizon! Nobody knows who the hell I am, yet, or the fact that my book exists, but I’m still so excited about it finally being released. HECCTROSSIPY 1: The Legend of the Land has been three years in the making. Since then, I lost count of how many re-writes it’s been through, but I don’t regret the pain staking, anal-retentive effort.
It was February of 2017, when the idea came to mind. Every once in a while, it’s fun to just space out, and play around with my imagination. I brainstorm on things like, really stupid inventions, inventions that are good ideas, dessert recipes, and new story ideas. With story ideas, I usually don’t have to make much effort to conjure them up. Most of the time, they pop on in without warning.
I could be minding my own business, snacking on olives, and blabbing with dad, about some latest discovery on Jupiter. Then an idea for a cutesy kiddie story, involving teddy bears and layer cakes, would come to mind. Or a mental movie about how drastically the Earth might change, if a second moon came into orbit might start playing in my head, while I’m browsing the women’s tunic section at Wal-Mart.
Sometimes, during one of my imagination playing trances, I’l come up with a character, and a vague hint of a setting and plot, and then just see where it goes on its own. The Hecctrossipy idea was from one of those moments.
It was late at night. I was lying on my bed, taking my eye drops, while going into an imagination trance, and staring at my Asian column lamp. I imagined two human-like teenage girls, who lived on a different planet. One had blond hair, and the other had brown hair. They were life-long best friends, who liked to hang out at night, on the blond haired girl’s glowing pool deck. Not a very exciting start. Then the more I fixated on those Alien girls, their family relationships started coming into mental movie view. So did details about the planet they lived on, the other creatures around them, and what their Alien village was like. By the time I was ready to call it a night, the beginning stages of a story had developed.
THE EMBRYONIC STAGE OF THE STORY (before it was even called, Hecctrossipy)
The brown haired girl was Mell May, and the blond haired girl was Artheena, and they lived on a preindustrial planet. Mell May’s mom and dad were horrible parents who were hardly ever home, and could care less about her. When they were home, they treated her like crap. So she spent as much time at Artheena’s house, as she could. Artheena’s family treated Mell May like she was one of their own.
Their village was overtaken by a corrupt leader, whose name hadn’t revealed itself to me yet. This leader guy and those who worked for him, lived in a tower, in the center of the village. Below the village, was an underground village, where these furry-animal-like, kind of creepy creatures called grungols lived. Corrupt leader wanted to mine the ground, for valuable gems and metals. So he poisoned the grungols’ water supply, to try to kill them off, but the poison didn’t kill them. It turned them into psychotic killers who started burrowing up to the surface, to kill and eat the people. Corrupt leader didn’t care about this little setback. The people were permitted to kill the grungols, to defend themselves, which was another good way to drive the grungols out.
Corrupt leader also wanted part of some sort of dynasty that Artheena’s family had. He knew that Mell May was like a sister to her, and a daughter to her parents. So he had Mell May kidnapped, and held for ransom.
Mell May was imprisoned within his tower. She lived like a caged animal, but then the leader grew lustful feelings towards her. At first, he made her his love slave. During their times spent in his bed, he struck up small talk conversations with her. Then small talk lead to deeper conversations. He twisted the truth about his reasons for doing the horrible things he did, to where it sounded like the rational and sensible things to do, for his people. He got Mell May into seeing things his way. As ruthless as he was, deep down, he was falling in love with her. Mell May was growing infatuated with him, but she kept this to herself, because she was still terrified of him. She went from being a love slave, to his companion who lived with him, more as a guest. He planned to get Mell May to marry him. Then she would become his ally.
Meanwhile, Artheena was on a mission to get her best friend back. She had grandiose plans to get the whole village to rise up against their leader, and overthrow him. Then she was abducted by grungols, and held hostage in a cave full of the remains of the people they had eaten. While there, she got befriended by a grungol girl named Audry. Audry was immune to the effects of the poison. She and Artheena made plans to help Artheena escape, and then together, they would fight to save Mell May. Unfortunately, Mell May was falling in love with her captor. So she might not want to be saved…
After that night, the story started developing on its own, as it got stuck in my mind, day after day. About a week or so later, a monster character came into the mental movie—the hecctrossipy.
It’s weird now, thinking back on a time—three years ago—when I was at the gym, one morning, and I couldn’t get the hecctrossipy story idea out of my mind, all during my workout. It made me feel happy and day dreamy, like a new infatuation. It was so much fun to trance out on, and see where the mental movie went. However, I didn’t really take this idea seriously.
When I was twelve, I experienced my first dreamy infatuation with a new, awesome story idea. I believed it was going to be “The next great American novel!”. I remember diligently working on it, every morning, during 1st period. Enthusiastically scribbling away, with a stank Sharpee marker, on page after page of bold lined paper. Then fifty or sixty pages in, the infatuation wore off. The story ended up being shoved away somewhere among my bedroom clutter.
This became my writing pattern. The story ideas, and unfinished books came and went. I’ve had such an impossible time convincing my brain to stop acting so A D D, and just finish a freaking novel already!
Twenty-five years later, it was the same old shit. My adult bedroom was cluttered with stacks of notebooks and folders, overstuffed with bulky, braille written attempts at novels. And my computer had a nice collection of abandoned story documents.
I started a short story series, and had the first book self-published on Amazon, I Dabbled Into Black Magic, in January of 2017. I was working on the second story, I Almost Committed Homicide, but predictably, the infatuation with the series fizzled out, and I just couldn’t get into it. Ugh! It was so frustrating!
Then Easter came, and I was in a dark mood. Not up to participating in the family get together. Writing usually never fails to cheer me up. And what better way to brighten a dark-minded writer’s day, than to write something fun. So I stayed withdrawn, in my room, and started working on Hecctrossipy. I’ve always love, love, loved writing about weird and outrageous, faraway planets, and sure enough, this made my Easter. However, I still didn’t take the idea seriously. I didn’t want to give up on forcing myself to finish my series first. Hecctrossipy was intended on being something I would just do for fun, and see where the story goes, before my mental fickleness kicks in. The document that my original Hecctrossipy draft was written on was called, ImpulseWrite. That’s how much I didn’t believe it would go very far.
To my greatest surprise, Hecctrossipy stayed with me. There was—and still is—something magical and addictive about it. For the first time EVER, the infatuation turned into devoted love. It was a true miracle! Did something finally go right with my screw-loose neurotransmitters?! Or is it one of those signs that Hecctrossipy is “meant to be”?
By the following September, the impossible came true, and I finished the first draft of a full-length novel! Once I made that milestone, I got such a thrilling high off of finally meeting the decades’ long goal of finishing a novel, it cured my writer’s A D D. From then on, I always finish my novels. Five more novels are on their way!
In January of 2018, good old Christa set me up with her friend, Jo, who is quite the remarkable editor. I didn’t have to pay thousands of dollars for his service either. Hecctrossipy was still a sloppy mess, full of plot holes, repetitive words, unrealistic character behavior, and too much mundane detail. Jo has been a saint, and patiently put up with my wanting to do revisions on the whole damn novel, again and again. I’ve given it, yet another complete make-over, since I bragged about The Writing Collective wanting to publish it, in a blog post way back in December.
Here are some of the changes that have evolved, since that transic night, three years ago:
*Mell May is Artheena’s adopted sister. She was adopted when she was four, after her parents mysteriously disappeared.
*There is still a tower in the center of the village, but there’s no longer one, single leader, and his many staff, who live in it. A community of Guardians—the planet’s ruling race of people—live in the tower, and lead their village.
*There is no corrupt leader. The Guardians are all for the greater good. However, there is a sexy bad guy who is not a Guardian, but he has the influential power of a leader. His name is Leeandro Paul, and both Artheena and Mell May are in love with him.
*The grungols are not creepy. They’re cute, with adorable, lop-eared, dog-like faces. They are the nicer and gentler natured species of people, whose society is more utopian. They live in civilizations that are under-ground Paradises.
*Since there are no longer corrupt leaders in the story, nobody poisons the grungols’ water supply. Although the grungols do get sick, and turn psychotic, but it’s something that’s one of the many apocalyptic changes going on, on their planet.
*Artheena still does get abducted by grungols, but that’s not when she meets Audry. She and Audry and Mell May have been best friends, since they were all six years old.
*Audry isn’t immune to whatever it is that’s making the grungols sick and insane. She’s going to die.
Here is the blurb for the final, finished product, all grown up…
HECCTROSSIPY 1: The Legend of the Land
The alignment of the three moons is a sign of positive changes to come, but the moons never promised that such changes will happen to everybody…
On the Pre-industrial planet of Velva Leena, two sisters eagerly anticipate the Hecctrossipy Festival. Continent 15’s yearly tradition that celebrates the victory over a legendary evil monster who had the power to manipulate the elements, and create chaos.
Artheena is smart, talented, beautiful, and blessed with multiple gifted abilities. Mell May, on the other hand, is simple and average. Both are in love with Leeandro Paul. A celebrity heart-throb who has an intriguing way of turning the leaders of the land into his followers.
Artheena has a premonition of marrying him, during the alignment of the three moons. While on her quest for true love, she gets caught up in unexpected adventures, embarrassing situations, and experiences beyond her wildest dreams. Including an outrageous contest that challenges Continent 15’s strict, conservative social standards. Through it all, Artheena and Mell May’s close bond is also challenged.
When the festival comes, the sisters have the time of their lives until Leeandro Paul makes an announcement that shocks his fans. An unimaginable secret is revealed, that might tare the two sisters apart for good…
You and I have gone through so much together, HECCTROSSIPY 1: The Legend of the Land. When you were just an unborn baby, in my brain, you started off as an adults’ story. Then when you were brought into this world, you became a children’s sci-fi story. Then you grew into being suitable for a 14+ audience, and finally to a 16+ audience. You’ve been divided into two books, had entire chapters erased and re-written, and I lost count of how many times I thought I was losing interest in you. Now you’re finally leaving the computer document nest, and going out on your own, into the real book world. I’m so proud of my baby!
Post you next weekend!