Thursday, November 15, 2007

We Have Moved! YAY!!! - Please Update RSS & Links!

I'm currently putting together The Writer's Round-About on it's ALL NEW DOMAIN NAME! YAY! Actually, the domain name isn't new. It's just taken me a month or so to figure out how to set up my blog on the new domain but I finally figured it out. I've moved upscale with a special install on my BlueHost server and things look like they're coming along nicely.

I just wanted to drop a line in on this blog to let people know that we've moved. If you're subscribed to a reader or via email and you still get 'this' message then PLEASE update your RSS feed to:

If you've linked to The Writer's Round-About ( in the past then I'd really love it if you could update your links! Old links 'should' still work but by updating to the new domain you can help me with my SEO and Page Rank. If you come across a dead link that should point to The Writer's Round-About please let me know.

So, just to recap. The All New Writer's Round-About can now be found at That's east to remember, isn't it? If you've got any questions, need help, or just want to say hi feel free to email me at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blog Review: Writing For Writers

I haven’t had the chance to read a book this week so I thought I’d deviate and introduce a Blog Review to the mix. There are thousands of fantastic blogs on the web. I’ve discovered a number of great blogs thanks to my Blogrush Widget and I’m looking forward to sharing some of the best with you.

This week I’d like to shine the light on Writing For Writers by Melissa A. Donovan. Melissa, whose love of writing was apparent from her formative years, majored in English and Creative Writing in college and has worked with words all her life. In August she turned to freelance writing with the launch of her writing services website.

Writing For Writers is focused on introducing writers to various aspects of the writing life. With categories such as, Freelance Writing, Grammar, Motivate & Inspire, Writers & the Web, and Writing Tips & Tricks, there is a wealth of information for eager writers to absorb and learn from.

My Favorite 10 Entries:
  1. The Five Cornerstones of a Successful Web Presence: Series Introduction

  2. Seven Ways to Make Time for Writing

  3. Journaling Made a Writer of Me

  4. Five Ways to Kick Writers Block and Get Inspired

  5. How to get Started Freelance Writing

  6. Five Tips to Make Sure your Greatest Ideas don't get Lost

  7. Writer's Getting Organized

  8. Thinking about Freelancing? Ten Things You Should Consider

  9. Freelance Writing: The Pros (Five Things To Love About This Job)

  10. Mutiny! (A Meditation on Characters

Check out Writing For Writers for even more great blog entries. You can even subscribe to the RSS feed and enjoy entries in your favorite reader.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Apologies from the Brain-Fried

I’m sorry for not having any entries up this week. There really is no excuse for not having posted something for you to read even if I haven’t been able to write. I want to especially thank my loyal readers and I hope you’ll stay with me despite the quiet. I’ll have a new book review on Tuesday and return to the series Thursday and Saturday.


Monday, November 05, 2007

SG1 Series Part Two: Character Development

Characters are an elemental part of every story. An intriguing plot with a good story-arc is important but without approachable characters your story will never connect with an audience. Readers need characters. Characters are the socket for your stories power supply. It is through your characters that readers can plug into the plot and experience the life of your story.

The Stargate series introduces a multitude of characters in various stages and of differing quality and consideration. Some play bit parts as extras or body count but others grow into the story, we come to love them or hate them, we come to care for the part they play in the story, their injuries and deaths bring anguish and grief or heartfelt cheers.

SG1 – Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal’c
The original SG1 is a team of four diverse characters. Their differences create an initial challenge; they struggle as a unit until they learn to use each others strengths to counter their own weaknesses. It shows the importance of bringing opposites together. These characters are unique in their own fields. It is their united purposes, each individual to their character, which brings them together. A bond is formed that gives this eclectic community a solid friendship. We see the bond develop and grow with the characters as the series progresses.

It is important to blend characters but avoid carbon copies. Each character should be unique and individual. Distinguish them with separate goals, established histories, areas of interest and technique.

The SGC and General Hammond
The Stargate Command is an entity in its own right. It is actually a collection of individuals that work in regulated ways to create a standardized base of operations. There are many faceless characters lead by the General. Most of the time we don’t connect with these individuals but General Hammond represents the unity. His personality molds the actions of the SGC.

Larger forces need a strong head character to represent their interests. Armies can seem like a long column of faceless men but a charismatic leader will show a distinguishing command of his forces. Each of his men is ultimately the voice of this man and a solid leader is one whose men will lay down their own lives to support the orders he puts forth. This is true of the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ guys.

The Goa’uld
While the Goa’uld are a nasty bunch in their own right they are an ideal antagonist. They aren’t evil. They have solid reasoning and a collection of emotional reactions that allow readers to associate with them. The Goa’uld act entirely out of an arrogant sense of self preservation and domination. As a people (um… symbiotic race) they act with rational, intelligent thought. They are challenging but not insurmountable.

Antagonists should be normal people. You can create more impact with a sympathetic antagonist then with a diabolical freak. If a reader can see themselves in a protagonist you have a good story but if readers can see themselves to some small degree in the antagonist then you have a charged situation that will keep a reader tied to the outcome.

There are many more characters involved in the Stargate series. Each new person (or group of people) is shown in snippets. Base motivations appear and personality traits are revealed but characters always have an element that remains unseen. It is impossible to know everything and it is important that characters can still do something unexpected or unpredictable.

Over time, we get to know the main characters. Their own personal stories are revealed and delved into. The primary characters are challenged with personal situations forcing them to make choices that distinguish them. Whole episodes play a vital role in adding depth to these characters and introduce situations that push their qualities forward.

  • Use time in your story to slowly reveal your characters.
  • Allow their actions and reactions to portray the depth of their beliefs and desires.
  • Each scene should use your characters strengths and weaknesses.
  • 3D characters have sides we cannot see.
  • A characters relationships reveal vital clues to their personality.
  • Characters always continue to grow and change based on the situations that occur in each moment of their lives.

Finally, just because your story has reached ‘The End’ does not mean your characters have. Characters should still be imperfect in the final scene. Their growth remains incomplete. Some of your characters may have died but most will live on beyond your closing paragraph and while they began at one point and progressed to another in this story there should always be another world to save, another enemy to fight, another day to live and another dream to follow.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

SG1 Series Part One: Story-Arc, Plot and SubPlot

Stargate SG-1One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed with the Stargate SG1 series is the almost decorative design of the story-arc. Each episode has one but each season also has one and the series as a whole has one as well. The three story-arcs work in unison to develop an intricate weave of plot and subplot that can be devoured in 42-minute segments.

As you watch from season one through to season ten you notice the major arc, the one that arches over all of the seasons is huge. Episodes become more dramatic, problems compact on top of each other and characters strengths and weakness grow and shift into complex creations that significantly impact the outcome of every choice.

Story Structure: The Story-Arc - Elements of a Novel
When we start smaller we see the simplicity of a single episode. One central idea/problem is introduced. This problem is always slammed home in the first few minutes, pre opening credits but I’ll talk more about that in Part Four: Hooks, Hangers and the Sequence of Events. We start with what Les Edgerton (Author of Hooked) called ‘the story-worthy problem’.

This opening scene may or may not involve the main characters but we are always brought to their point-of-view immediately after the opening credits. We see the problem then we backtrack to where the protagonists are right now. They obviously want to solve the problem. As the episode continues they discover that the problem becomes harder to solve, a plausible solution doesn’t work, there are unseen challenges that have to be confronted first, something else happens to compact the situation.

The conflict reaches climax. It’s a crisis moment and a make or break action tips the scales toward success (or failure). Generally the good guys win against the odds but it is not always in a way that means everyone lives happily ever after (more about this in Part Two: Character Development).

The Goa'uld, Apophis - In Stargate SG1 we are constantly left with the initial story-worthy problem. Will Earth ever be safe from the Goa'uld?The ending is a rush of released tension BUT we are always a left a few points higher on the y-axis (tension) then when the episode began. There are always questions left unanswered. New elements are introduced that may (or may not) play a significant part in the shows future but always leaves us wondering what is next for these characters. The overall series story-arc is never complete (except, perhaps at the end of the series).

Each season has its own story-arc as well. When you see the season as a complete picture you recognize that most of that seasons episodes have contributed to the seasons thread. It is often brought to climax in the final episode and often left hanging between seasons so that viewers are left on the edge of their seat with incentive to hold out for the next season during off-season months.

All of these seasons are held together by the solidity of the overall plot. Questions are introduced that won’t be answered right away. Each of these unanswered questions build upon the plot. The original series worthy problem continues to grow until it too, reaches climax. In fact, it’s often the climax of each season that spikes this major arc over the series to greater heights.

In the overall series plot a number of subplots are woven. These are almost a filler, bulking out the story but also adding elements to enrich the characters and the story as a whole. They stack the odds and continue to develop tension. Sub-plots are often less sub than they originally appear. An alliance formed (or broken) in an earlier episode might seem like a sub-plot but proves to be a significant factor in the major plot events.

Thor of the Asgard: First introduced as a recording in season one, he later proves to be a significant character recalled throughout the series.For Example: In Season 1 Episode 9, Jack and Teal’c come across a recording of Thor in the labyrinth of Thor’s Hammer. In that episode it seems of minor consequence. They’re forced to destroy the Hammer on Cimmeria to rescue Teal’c. The escape from the labyrinth makes up the climax of the episode and we might assume the end of this sub-plot. In Season 2 Episode 6 we discover that the destruction of Thor’s Hammer has a significant impact on Cimmeria and their whole world is put at risk. We discover that Thor isn’t just a recording of a mythical God. In Season 3 we come across Thor again and again and again throughout the series. Thor (and his race, the Asgard) are actually an incredibly important part of the series plot that originated in what seemed like an insignificant sub-plot.

How does all this relate to our own writing? It throws in to perspective the perfection of the story arc. We are given the opportunity to monitor the development of the plot (and of subplot) through an intricate construction over a well developed and very successful series. In some books or even movies it can be easy to lose sight of the beautiful design that a plot takes but it is there, underlining every work of fiction. It is a clarified manifestation of the ‘Beginning, Middle, and End’ concept.

If you’ve ever considered writing a novel or a series of novels it’s important to understand how this structure plays a significant role in your creation. This weave is never perfect in a first draft. To bring the threads together you must pay attention to your story-arc. Weaknesses need to be tightened. Planning your plot in advance is a great way to develop an idea of how your novels various elements come together but you can also see this to some degree in second drafts. The shaping of your story-arc should be an important part of your editing process.

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