This week I received my copy of The Story Engine a writing/RPG aid that gamifies the process of coming up with a story concept. Here is the first set of cards I drew from the decks to build my story.
The format stuck out to me, even though there were 1024 combinations possible in this draw. It turned out to be a familiar story, though the consequence isn’t part of the traditional tale…
A swashbuckler wants to outwit or overpower an (immoral) warlord who controls a crown but in doing so, they will have to live the rest of his life doing a job they hate.
Robin has sworn to save England from the evil Prince John who has usurped his brother Richard the Lionheart’s crown. If he does, he’ll be forced back into polite society and have to run the Earldom of Locksley, a life he left behind when the kings rangers tricked him into killing on of the king’s deer.
Situation: On the run, with his band of merry men
Protaganist: Robin Hood
Objective: wants to return England’s throne to Richard the Lionheart, stolen by
Opponent: his brother, the evil Prince John and his henchmen the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Sir Guy of Gisborne
Climax: Will he save the day and be rewarded by being thrust back into the life of ease he gave up when he went on the run?
Here’s a second that didn’t line up with a cl
An unassuming co-conspirator wants to start a war with a facility, but one way or another it will be their last adventure.
Three days from retirement, semi-legitimate private detective Frank gets a message from his partner, Jim. Jim was captured after discovering what has happened to the missing homeless children and how it connects to Karma Corp’s medical facility on the edge of town. Can he save his friend and the kids, or will the company retire him? Permanently.
Situation: Three days from retiring to the boat he’s been dreaming of
Protaganist: Frank Gris
Objective: has to go to war with Karma Corp
Opponent: Karma Corp, after Frank’s friend Jim uncovered their experiments and how they connect to missing children.
Climax: He’ll either get back his friend and the kids, or be retired by the company. Permanently.
Possible Genres: Noir, Modern Thriller, Cyberpunk
One of the things I’m noticing about this process is that it ties in well with the SPOOC format from the Fiction Writing Formula, written by Deborah Chester. Deborah Chester is the professor who helped Jim Butcher to outline and format his world-famous Dresden Files series of books.
I highly recommend the books and it’s amazing to see his writing continue to improve over the years. It’s also clear he outlined the entire story arc. I’m re-reading his earlier novels and finding hints in books 1 and 2 that show up again in Books 16 and 17. It’s pretty incredible.