Posted on September 8, 2008

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I often find themed anthologies a good source for targeted writing. They provide a specific thing to think about, to inspire the story-telling neurons. Whether or not I end up with a sufficiently good enough story to warrant submission or even finish by the end of the reading period, is another matter entirely. But I do have a good-sized pile of partly developed stories or notes on story ideas that have been inspired by an anthology.

My usual forum for discovering forthcoming anthologies is Ralan’s

The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild is currently calling for submissions for its forthcoming anthology, Masques. The submission period opened in April, closing at the end of October. I have been toying with an idea ever since the anthology was announced. In particular, the fact that masque is apparently old French for performance started the mental cogs creaking and turning over. But that is all I am going to reveal about potential stories.

With my increasing awareness of story and plot development, I came to the realisation that my idea was too large a story for the Masque‘s 5000 word limit. Since then I have been trying to come up with either an alternative version that would work within those constraints or an alternative story entirely.

The first-half of second semester came to an end last Friday when I handed in a the final assignment due by that point. I have been on the mid-semester break since then and putting a lot of thought into a solution for my Masques dilemma. I believe that I have found a solution, reflecting my greater awareness of story and plot development.

A key to this story redevelopment has been applying what Elizabeth George calls step plot and running plot liens.

The step plot involves coming up with all the potential, causally related scenes arising from your general story idea. Each step contains all the ideas that could work within that scene, paying particular attention to the causal relationships. The final step plot therefore contains the basic plot outline.

The running plot is the next activity after the step plot. This is a present tense, stream of consciousness exposition on the page, exploring the particular scene. This further develops the plot.

I first read these ideas by Elizabeth George some time ago in her book, Write Away. They made sense at the time. But it was studying script writing and the steps in scene development that really made George’s ideas come together even more. Yet another sign of my growth as a writer and the benefits I am receiving from my studies.

Now for an annoucement – I am also exploring something really different for me. I am also exploring a potential poem or poems for submission to Masques. A poem with a speculative theme. This could be interesting. Who knows – I may even make it work! šŸ™‚


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