Tag Archives: plot

Ginnie Dare: Blockade Runner – Snowflake Pt. 4

This is step four in the Snowflake method.

By this stage, you should have a good idea of the large-scale structure of your novel, and you have only spent a day or two. Well, truthfully, you may have spent as much as a week, but it doesn’t matter. If the story is broken, you know it now, rather than after investing 500 hours in a rambling first draft. So now just keep growing the story. Take several hours and expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph. All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends.

I would love to know if you see any major problems or if there’s anything that interests you particularly about this process or the results so far! Sound off in the comments.

The settlers of the gas giant Rafe, one of the primary sources of fuel used in Perry-Gamblin drives, are seceding from the Commonwealth and have been cut off from aid by a government blockade. The Dares have been hired to run supplies to them in secret, able to do this thanks in part to modifications made using the Eshuan crystal. The succeed in getting through the first layer of the blockade without being spotted. Halfway between the outer ring of security and their destination they hit a mine that damages one of their cargo pods. They must make an emergency stop to repair it before they go on and they have to do it before Commonwealth forces arrive.

Ginnie and Jess to go EVA and repair one of the the damaged pod. It takes longer then they realize. The damage will not allow them to repair the connector and there’s no easy way to get it back on. Jess can jerry rig something, but before they’re able to the ship picks up an incoming scout. The only choice they have is to steer the pod to a nearby moon using emergency thrusters, and park it there. The Helena continues to Rafe and must maintain radio silence. They plan to get a tractor to come retrieve the pod along with Ginnie and Jess in 24 hours or less. Unfortunately the pod’s systems are damaged too and it crashes on the moon, injuring Jess.

Ginnie goes to find a place to set up an encrypted beacon she fashioned from the damaged parts of the pod’s radio. They don’t want to use it until the Helena is closer, but it needs to be on the highest point she can find. During her explorations she discovers what she thinks is a colony outpost. It strikes her as odd since there’s nothing important on this moon. She hacks into their channel and discovers that they’re terrorists, plotting to destroy the settlement making the Commonwealth and the Dares look responsible. Ginnie and Jess must find a way to stop them not only to save the colony, but to save their shipmates who will be caught in the attack and all without alerting the Commonwealth to their presence. They come up with a plan equal parts A-Team and MacGyver.

One of the agents working for the Liberation Front (President’s aid? Choochus?) gets a signal knows that the jig is up and sets the backup plan in motion. He alerts the President to the existence of the bomb and accuses the Dares of being in league with the Commonwealth. There’s a tense showdown. Jonas uses his military experience to help disable the bomb, but that doesn’t ultimately free them of suspicion. The President makes them leave and promises that they will work it out latter. While the Dares are on their way back Choochus alerts the Commonwealth to the Dare’s presence in the sector and via an improvised tracking device he planted gives them their coordinates. The Dares make it to the moon and succeed in recovering Ginnie, but a host of Commonwealth ships block their retreat.

The Dares reveal the presence of the Liberation front and their plans. Ginnie and Jes are able to produce the captured terrorists. Ginnie is able to get the tracking device and prove that it belonged to the president’s aid. The President is able to use this incident as leverage to ask for the blockade to be stopped. Colonel Delaney decides that having the terrorists is proof that the blockade is too much of a hardship on Commonwealth citizens. The Dares also offer to give up their “cloak” to the Commonwealth in exchange for amnesty for running the blockade. They are granted it, provisionally, and leave the sector for the return trip home.

Getting Out Of Corners

Let it be known up front that I am a big fan of Scott Sigler’s work and work ethic. A harder working writer, I do not know. Having said that, there are things about him that I don’t get. That’s okay. Diversity makes this world and interesting place. But he said something in a recent episode of The All-Pro that made me mad. Hit the link and listen to the last ten minutes or so to get the full context.

He was talking about his writing process. He’s an outliner. Given what he writes, it makes perfect sense to do a thorough outline before he starts in writing. He talks about the whys and wherefores, in particular that he pitches ideas via his outline to his agent/publisher and hones it to a silicone coated pointy point before commencing. All of that’s good and well and makes perfect sense. He went further than that, though.

He said “any time the story gets into a rabbit hole they [paranormal/fantasy writers] can whip up some magic and get themselves out of that”. Now he does qualify that to a degree. It still came across to me as painting with an awfully broad brush. He also said that he has to outline everything and make sure that everything you’re reading does actually matter. That certainly seems to imply that at least some fantasy/paranormal writers don’t have to pay as much attention to the craft and that everything they write doesn’t have to be tightly plotted or make sense. That’s simply not true.

It caused me to tweet:

The FDO basically said as a thriller writer he doesn’t have the luxury of the supernatural to get him out of corners he writes himself into.

I also tweeted:

I’m fine with his stance except that he apparently believes writers of supernatural fiction are lazy somehow

Did he say “lazy”? No. I did infer that from what he said. I certainly don’t think he believes that all writers of fantasy are lazy writers. He himself has written fantasy (I think Nocturnal qualifies and there’s another project he’s working on that I know little about). I also think that his GFL series qualifies as fantasy of a kind.

As a writer of paranormal/fantasy fiction myself, I can see that using magic as a deus ex machina can be a crutch/problem. That’s also true of tricorders/sensors and other SF tropes. It’s one we all need to keep an eye out for. It’s also important no matter what genre you’re writing in to have a solid plot and to make sure that everything you’re writing “does actually matter” to the story at large. To single out a wide swath of genre fiction in the way he did was short sighted at best.

As I told one person, I certainly reacted emotionally. It’s also possible I overreacted. I would love to get Scott’s thoughts and yours. Listen to what he said and tell me if I’m way off base here.