Discussing the four plots of science fiction and fantasy (as outlined by Orson Scott Card) got us thinking about some of our own books. We asked ourselves, which of these four main elements–milieu, idea, character, or event–dominates our recent novels?
Linda Joy Singleton:
I suppose my DEAD GIRL series could be considered an Event story (my character having a near-death experience and then making a wrong turn into someone else’s body on her return.) But the actual story is more the growth of my character Amber as she goes into 3 different bodies, helping other people and learning about her herself as she evolves with confidence and insight into friendships.
LAST MIDNIGHT is either an Idea story or an Event story. It’s about a girl who comes to suspect that her family might no longer be able to perform their annual job of preventing the end of the world. Keen has a mystery to solve: why does the world seem to be ending despite her family’s efforts, and what can she do to stop disaster from striking? Her story is only complete when she solves the mystery and sets things right for the city of Roil.
Even though the main character of LAST MIDNIGHT spends some time searching through the city of Roil for the legendary black unicorn, and even though we get to visit a lot of landmarks along the way (Penny & Dreadful’s Candy Shop, Winding Stair School, the Fishtail Tavern, Mostly and Otherwise), this isn’t a Milieu story. And while Keen must grow out of her naivete and settle on what she believes about her family’s role in saving the city of Roil, the story’s main focus isn’t Character. The book is quite a puzzler, so I would probably call it an Idea story, but it also requires a specific action to set things right again, which makes it a bit of an Event story.
P. J. Hoover:
THE EMERALD TABLET is about a brand new world (okay, two worlds, but we won’t actually get to Atlantis until Book 3). Sure, the world of Lemuria is cool and all, and there are lots of neat new inventions, places, and species. But the story doesn’t progress for the reader to get a look at the world. Thus, THE EMERALD TABLET is not a Milieu structured story.
THE EMERALD TABLET is somewhat of a mystery. There is, of course, a bad guy, and some mystery as to who Benjamin really is. Not to mention, some ancient relic has made Benjamin champion of the world. But the story doesn’t revolve around the discovery of this mystery. Thus, THE EMERALD TABLET is not an Idea structured story.
THE EMERALD TABLET is rife full of characters who aren’t even human. Benjamin and his friends are telegens (think: really smart humans). Jack is a Nogical (think: little and green, but big on attitude). When Benjamin starts his journey he is not the same person as when he ends. There’s no way he possibly could be. He’s seen things, been through experiences, and made allies and enemies that have changed him. But the main focus of the story is not this change within Benjamin. Thus, THE EMERALD TABLET is not a Character structured story.
So where does that leave us? THE EMERALD TABLET has a quest. There is a search for three keys. There are journeys to new places, new challenges to face, new people to meet, new tests to take. There is action and adventure, not to mention a bunch of tween fun mixed in. The structure of the story follows the quest. Each stage leads to the next. One can’t be reached until the previous is finished. So if my vote counts for anything, I hereby declare THE EMERALD TABLET an Event structured story.
(THE EMERALD TABLET by PJ Hoover is the first of a trilogy: The Forgotten Worlds Books.)