And with that, we’ve arrived at my final hosted prompt!
Thank you again to Sam and Clo for this opportunity, and I hope you all had as much fun with my prompts as I had coming up with and writing them all!
Since July is Camp NaNoWriMo month, why not try putting together the basics of a novel? I’m sure you’ve noticed that most books contain several familiar elements; it’s the specific combination that makes each one unique!
So in whatever order makes most sense to you, choose a basic plot, an appropriate setting, your favorite tropes (including a beginning trope and an ending trope), some archetypal characters, and anything else necessary for us to understand the heart of your narrative.
You can use the lists I’ve linked or search up your own!
This post is part of Bookending Summer 2019, which is organized by Sam & Clo! Today’s prompt, “Build-a-Story,” is hosted by yours truly — so if you do this prompt don’t forget to link back to this post!
This is basically me throwing arbitrary tropes at the wall and seeing what sticks, BECAUSE I CAN. Where applicable, I’ve included real-world (real-book?) examples to help get my point across
and for my own future reference when I inevitably try to make this into a coherent novel. Hopefully it’s not too scattered and I don’t scare y’all off with this peek into my story-building process.
For me personally, story-building often starts with the setting since it influences the development of characters and plot, and also because it helps distinguish each Work in Progress (WIP) in my mind.
Place-wise, I chose to set my hypothetical novel in a parallel universe: basically identical to ours, except when you turn fifteen you gain the ability to transform into an animal. You don’t get to pick which animal and it’s always the same one, but you do get control over the transformation process. (For example, if you wanted to just change your ears to your owl form, to eavesdrop on a conversation? That’s fair game.)
Time-wise, it’s set in the 1990s. Because that’s the decade I was born, but I was born at the end so I didn’t actually get to experience it. In other words, I’ve always been curious, just not enough to actually do my research.
I’ve wanted to write a female Lovable Rogue, yet somehow still haven’t done it, so she’ll be my main character in this work. If you’re familiar with A.C. Gaughen’s books, imagine Scarlet and Robin Hood rolled into one character. Or just Eugenides but female.
Since ensemble casts / found families always bring me joy, let’s throw in some more main characters:
- The Blue-Collar Warlock — somewhere between Harry Dresden and Magnus Bane
- The Conscience, probably a Sydney Clarke type
- The [Princess] Incognito, or If Wylan Van Eck Were A Girl
- The Storyteller, though it feels wrong to have Widget Murray without his twin sister
- The Trickster: basically just Marvel’s Loki
And of course we need antagonists! I had a laugh at the Bastard Bastard archetype, but actually I think it could be a fascinating setup / villain backstory. For tradition’s sake, her backup will include Dumb Muscle and, for humorous irony, a Pollyanna.
Premise: The Quest
“Voyage and return” has historically been my favorite Basic Plot; since I don’t actually have to write this novel
but probably will eventually, I figured why not change it up. So basically our protagonist has to retrieve … an undisclosed mystery object, subject of an (of course) exasperatingly vague prophecy. Yeah. To save “life as she knows it,” whatever that means.
Beginning: Easing Into the Adventure + Everyone Meets Everyone
Look, I like slice-of-life / quiet stories and I also like adventure, so domestic pre-Call to Adventure scenes are a lot of fun for me. And so are friendship origin stories. (This whole prompt was self-indulgent to start with, why would I stop here.)
- Adventure Rebuff, to continue easing into the action
- Deal With the Devil because I enjoy moral ambiguity
- Villains Out Shopping for comic relief
- Careful What You Wish For: it’s a classic
- “Groundhog Day” Loop so I can explore multiple outcomes for a pivotal scene without any writing going to waste
- Broken Pedestal for angst
- Caught in the Bad Part of Town seems requisite to a quest, no?
- Despite the Plan since it’s no fun if everything/anything goes according to plan
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine because I enjoy writing villain / hero interactions
- “I Lied”, because I’m a cynic and possibly incapable of writing a storyline without circuitous backstabbing and betrayal
- Achilles in His Tent for more angst
Not gonna lie, I was more than a little tempted to pull All Just A Dream — mostly to spite all the English teachers who told me I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it. (But really, every English teacher I ever had was a fantastic person who knew what they were talking about, and I’m not being sarcastic here. Seriously.)
Then I saw the name of the Bookends trope and couldn’t pass up its similarity to the event I’m writing this post for. And I love a good “full circle” ending to show just how far the characters have come!
What are your favorite tropes to see in books? Which books use tropes especially well, whether in the execution or by putting a twist on them?
If you do this prompt, please don’t forget to link back to my post!