Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way ~ The Kernel

On Tuesday, I used kernel as the term for writers. I'd like to continue that theme onto today. So how do you know a kernel is strong enough to support a full length novel?

Does your kernel have what it takes?
  • Try to outline the story in your head
  • Have a strong beginning, middle and end
  •  Action and suspense scenes
  • Can it support a leisurely pace or a fast one
  • Bounce off possible scenarios on a map map and trace it back to the kernel
  • Does you main character learn something and grow?
  • Start typing or writing your story
These are all  important elements to your story to have an enjoyable novel except for the last one.

I can usually develop an outline using these brain storming and mind mapping the basis of the story from here. Whatever works for you. Sometimes I'll type out several chunks of action/suspense happenings and write the story to fit them. For Escape from Second Eden, I used a mind map with events on several large sheets of computer paper, think the old dot matrix printer sheets almost 15" wide and continuous feed. It was leftover from my old dot matrix printer. Sort of like I've pictured but not as neat. Each one of the bubbles had multiple bubbles coming off of it.
mind map for "Eden"

I knew it story had the strong beginning and end. The middle was all the events and characters in the story. I had little bubbles all over the place. So you can see the continuous feed paper was essential. It had enough action and suspense scenes. The family, my main characters, involved would be on a roller coaster from hell.

I didn't want this story to be as fast pacing as Sidney Sheldon's Windmill of the Gods, but along the same premise. Family scenes were added to give the reader a chance to breathe before the next loop-de-loop of high action while carrying the suspense in undercurrents.

What does my character learn from the all these events? She is stronger and more cunning than she ever believed possible, and hell has a revolving door.

I figured there had to be a better way than juggling sheets of wide paper in my lap after this first novel so I tried another tact with another novel, The ResidenSpace. This goes to show you I'm not without clunker kernels.

ResidenSpace was a science fiction based on an assassin in space. The setting was based off the ship concept of the ResidenSea but in space galaxy hopping. I used a standard outline like I did in grade school.

The kernel- How would an assassin kill in space with no escape? My protagonist was the assassin.

I had a strong beginning with my main character, but the whole kernel crumbled at about chapter 15.  The assassin called "Pax" had very few redeeming qualities and refused to learn any. I wrote myself into an inescapable box and couldn't think of a way out of it. Scrapping the whole project, I laid it aside vowing to rewrite it, but other more stronger kernels came into being. Leading this story idea from being rewritten.

Another novel was Zombie Apocalypse: Travelers. I actually wrote the entire rough draft of over 50K words and ended up going back to the drawing board with the story. That was a big ouchie- four months worth of writing for me.

While I was reading through it, I realized that the sequel was wimpy and I could do better. I hear you, a weak kernel even though you wrote over 50K words? All I can tell you was that I started believing my own press about the previous one. The premise for the sequel did not have enough or strong enough tie-in to the previous one to be a sequel. I knew I could write a better story so it was back to the drawing board.

After this fact, K.M. Weiland wrote a series on sequels and I found my mistake. So when I start writing fiction again, I'll know how to correct it. Thanks, K. M.

So have you ever had a kernel you couldn't expand?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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