Tag Archives: writing

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Plotting: The Idea

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My nine-year-old nephew had to write a horror story. His other aunt, who is one of my beta readers, was trying to convince him that having an outline would help him when it came time to write said story.

I wasn’t there, but I guess it was quite the process to get this awesome kid to think of characters, a setting, and a conflict.

His least favorite part? Picking names for the characters. He wanted to call them the twelve-year-old and the three-year-old. Maybe he was burned out in making decisions by this point, but there was a lot of drama.

When the other aunt was telling me about this I looked at the nephew and said, “I get it.”

Who spent all last week trying to outline a story? Me. Who had no less than three meltdowns about it? Again, me.

I’ve been thinking about sharing my outlining process for a while, and I’ve decided to start today.

Honestly, the beginning is the usually the easiest part, because ideas tend to lurk.

What do you need for an idea?

There isn’t a list, but these are the sorts of things that I start with:
The Idea


I’m talking basics:
Science Fiction
Cozy Mystery

Pretty much the area where you would find it in at the book store or the library.


Here are a few for Science Fiction:
Alien Invasion
Apocalyptic / Post Apocalyptic
First Contact
Generation Ship
Space Exploration
Time Travel


Once in a while I start with characters. For instance, I have a story I wrote for Nanowrimo that started with the idea of Leverage in space. The characters are what brought that one to life for me. Sure, it’s a science fiction action thriller, but like the television show, the characters are the backbone of the story.

The Idea

This is a crazy idea that the author builds a story around. For instance:
What if people learned to transport themselves?
What if magic was real, but it was addictive?
What if monsters walked among us?
What if a ship from the future came back to warn us about our imminent destruction?

Basically you need to start with something. Whatever works for you.

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Once Upon a Time I Wrote a Children’s Book

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Once Upon a Time I had a friend with five children rant at me about how her kids could never find a pair of matching socks.

This was before matching socks were passe, BTW. This is probably WHY matching socks are no longer required.

At the time I was taking a writing class, and decided to use her plight as inspiration for a story. Thus The Elusive Socks was born.

A long time ago I submitted it to a few publishing houses, and never heard back. I believe I won 3rd place in a contest with it once.

So, today is basically the debut of said story on the internet, and you get to be here for it!

The reason I recorded it at all is because a good friend challenged a bunch of us good friends to read our favorite children’s book out loud.

Any picture book that I might have is packed away in the basement, and I was too lazy to go find them, so I read my own.

There aren’t any illustrations, so all you get is this lovely image I Googled. (It was that or a pile of my geeky socks.)

Someday I might come back to it, find an illustrator, and publish it. But that day is not today.

Tomorrow isn’t looking good either 😉

The Elusive Socks

Please excuse the flub-ups as well as the sound quality.

Try to keep a sense of humor through this madness! And remember, your socks don’t have to match. 🙂

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The Bones of Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

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We’ve finally arrived at the conclusion of the Skywalker Saga!

Considering the rocky road we’ve been down, I’m pleased the movies got this far.

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V
Episode VI
Episode VII
Episode VIII

Let’s get to it!

Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Click HERE to see my initial review of the film.

In a nutshell, I enjoyed this film, but it was forced to cover too much ground to undo the dumb things that happened in Episode 8.

The Bones:
Reveal the big bad.
Resolve the conflict between Rey and Kylo.
Have the good guys win.
If this is the Skywalker Saga, which Skywalker is Rising?
Is there balance in the Force?

Reveal the Big Bad

This happened in the first trailer for the movie, long before it came out. Palpatine’s laughter clearly echoed in the background. Somehow Darth Sidious is still around.

Personally, I think they did this so the fans wouldn’t think the filmmakers were trying to shoehorn in a new big bad.

After watching the entire series from start to finish again, I have to say that it wasn’t a terrible choice. Palpatine (Sidious’ clone) had been meddling since Episode I. Why not have the real Sith Lord manipulating things for longer than that?

After killing Snoke in Episode 8, I wasn’t sure what they’d do. It’s hard to say if this was their plan from the beginning of the sequels. If so, they could have given us a few clues throughout episodes 7 and 8. If not, where were they going with the big bad?

Resolve the Conflict Between Rey and Kylo

These two looked like they were heading straight for the typical light side vs. dark side conflict. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that wasn’t the case.

Kylo spills the beans (again) on Rey’s heritage, this time revealing that she’s a Palpatine. Naturally this hits Rey hard, especially after she rips a ship apart when she loses control and thinks she’s killed Chewie.

Kylo asks her to stay be his side and together kill the Emperor, er, Sidious. Like Luke before her, she refuses, and jumps.

Even through her little excursion through Palpatine’s chambers on the Death Star, Rey never really wavers. She sticks to her guns, so to speak, and makes it her goal to help Kylo see he’s better as Ben Solo.

Between Rey and his mother, Leia, Kylo doesn’t have a chance.

Okay, he chooses to turn from his dark ways, but the people in his life are very…persuasive. I loved seeing Han again, even just for a second.

Kylo and Rey finally have it out on the remains of the Death Star, and Rey prevails, stabbing Kylo!

But wait, Leia uses that last of her life force to send her son one last push to come back to the light. Leia had been training Rey, so Rey feels the woman’s death as well.

In that moment of pain, Rey comforts Kylo, and heals his wounds, basically bringing him back from the dead. Kylo gets a ghost visit from his father, and finally decides to turn away from the whisperings of Sidious and once again be Ben Solo. (Did anyone else notice that Rey healed his scar?)

I am not going to lie to you, the scene when Ben comes to Rey’s rescue on Palpatine’s planet may be one of my favorite Star Wars scenes ever.

The bonding between the two force users was sometimes clumsy, but it was there. Him running recklessly in to help her is what Star Wars, and heroes, and friendship is all about.

I didn’t love Kylo’s end. I found him easily the most interesting character in this film, and was sad they gave him the easy way out. I’m a jerk. I know it.

Who is the big bad guy?
Can Rey defeat Kylo and the big bad guy? Even if she’s “no one?”

Have the Good Guys Win

Of course the good guys are going to win. This is Star Wars, for crying out loud! And the third film in the trilogy, to be exact.

Poe, Finn, and Chewie spend a lot of time running around the galaxy trying to keep this film moving. And it moves. Much to fast in some places, but that’s the product of having to not only pack so much in, but also fixing the mistakes of the past.

Lando is a pleasant addition to the finale.

The battle over the Sith planet is impressive. I thought the horse-things on the hull of the Star Destroyers was a bit much, but it did look cool. I loved the new characters, and hope to see them again soon.

Episode 8 left the rebels with no friends. Episode 9 brings them all back and then some.

For me this is actually a plot hole. Their arrival is timely, and awesome, but as a watcher, I had no idea people would come. Why would they? We have no indication that anyone supports Leia or the rebellion.

Sidious’ force lightning attack on the fleet was amazing! My inner fan girl squeed, and my writing brain said, “good show of just how much more powerful he is than anyone else.”

In the end the rebels finally get the control tower (why did they need the horses for that again?) and Rey bests Sidious. Not without sacrifice on all fronts.

If this is the Skywalker Saga, which Skywalker is Rising?

Uh, Rey adopts herself into the Skywalker family at the end. So it could be her. It could also be Ben, because he’s a Skywalker too.

I actually feel like the name doesn’t connect well to the movie, but that’s probably just me.

Is there balance in the Force?

This is the question they presented to us way back in Episode 1. The force is out of balance. Why?

I don’t think they actually addressed this in the film, but I could speculate that Sidious had been keeping things out of balance by being alive for so long and pulling so many strings. However, Rey is still around, and her powers seem to go both ways, so who knows?

As usual, I think this is the biggest thing they left hanging.

Maybe it’s in the comics.

As far as bones go, this film had more to do with covering the old bones than making new ones. Which works for the end of a nine film saga. I’m still disappointed that the final Star Wars film had to shoehorn in so much stuff, but they did a decent job.

I might have to watch this one again soon.

What about you? Did you like the end to the Skywalker Saga?

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The Bones of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

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This film is perhaps the most controversial of the Skywalker Saga. Whether you love it or hate it—and most people are on one end or the other—it certainly gives us a lot to talk about!

Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

If you missed any of the previous installments of Good Bones, you can find them here:
Episode I
Episode II
Episode III
Episode IV
Episode V
Episode VI
Episode VII

Let’s get to it!

Episode VII: The Last Jedi

Instead of the bones of this movie, let’s start with the expectations that Episode VII left us with, or what we were expecting as the bones of this film:

Expectations / Bones

The New Order destroyed the existing government and is taking over the galaxy. Leia and the new rebels will stand against them.
Finn is force sensitive.
Finn and Rey might be love interests.
Rey is crazy powerful with the Force. Snoke seems to know who she is, so she must be someone important!
Kylo Ren is a really bad guy.
Luke is going to train Rey like Yoda trained Luke!
Luke must be the Last Jedi.
Snoke must be Darth Plagueis.

The New Order and the rebels:
The rebels are obviously in a bad spot at the beginning of the film. They’re evacuating a base and running from the New Order, who outnumber and out-gun them.
Honestly, I loved Poe’s stalling tactic at the beginning. I hated that they made General Hux a bit of an idiot in this film, but I did laugh.

Star Wars has never been military science fiction. Yes, we’ve seen the military structure, but we’ve never been in the middle of it.

Until now. Poe goes against orders and gets a lot of people killed, but feels like it was worth it to take down the dreadnaught. Leia, who is clearly in charge, chastises him, demotes him, and tosses him off the bridge.

This is a logical move in regards to a military story, and I’m not saying the Leia is wrong, but we’re not used to such consequences in Star Wars. Heroes get pat on the back, and no one who can be of use is thrown aside.
When Admiral Holdo jumps in, she treats Poe like an idiot, instead of listening to one of her best pilots and leaders. Again, maybe fine for military sci-fi, but it didn’t sit well for Star Wars.

Also, it felt like forced conflict. The writers couldn’t make the chase (I’m going to ignore how dumb that was, BTW. Battlestar Galactica did it well, just saying…) interesting enough, so they had to thrown in Poe’s mutiny, Finn’s pseudo desertion, and their insane plan.
Wouldn’t Holdo share the goal with her staff? Maybe even the whole ship? It’s not like Poe is a private. He’s still an officer, and should be in on this plan to get to an old rebel base. That felt like the writers withholding information from me, the watcher, and that made me cranky.

In the end, no one comes to Leia’s rescue. No old friends or allies. Nothing in this film showed me that the galaxy is that afraid of the New Order until that moment, which is bad writing.

Poe’s growth as a character isn’t a bad arc, but it was so obvious I rolled my eyes and groaned in the theater. He made the mistake in the first scene, then makes the right call near the end. Ten-year-olds can write that.

Finn likes Rey and he might be force sensitive:
Both of these expectations are trashed in this film.
Which could have worked…but it didn’t fly for me.
Rose jumps in out of nowhere and spends the film becoming Finn’s love interest. Or friend? Wait, there’s kissing. No one is sure what’s going on with them.

I didn’t mind Rose, but the whole trashing the casino and freeing the oppressed animals (which are going to be rounded up and probably whipped later, along with the kids) felt like someone forcing their ideals down my throat.

If you want to make a statement, fine, make a statement, but be subtle about it. Don’t tell people what they should believe or think, show them a different point of view, then let them decide if they want to change their feelings on the matter.

Since when is Star Wars about hating rich people? Leia is a princess, for crying out loud.

I didn’t notice anything that leaned toward Finn being force sensitive, like they hinted in Episode VII, which I thought was disappointing. They had the kid at the very end show force powers, but not Finn? Why not?

Rey is crazy powerful with the Force. Snoke seems to know who she is, so she must be someone important!
Yes, Rey is powerful with the force, but Luke senses too much darkness in her, so she’s bad.

Also, according to Kylo Ren, she’s no one. Her parents sold her for drinking money and then left her on Jakku.
I was onboard with this, because I thought it would be cool if the force was reaching out to other beings in the galaxy, trying to reestablish itself and find balance.

Rey being no one worked for me, and I kind of like how it finally popped her stupid, “I’m no one if I don’t know who my parents are” idiot ball.

Kylo Ren is a really bad guy:
Yup. He is.

But wait, is he?

I actually loved this part of the movie. The scenes with Kylo and Rey seeing one another through the force were intriguing and eye-opening.

Seeing both Luke and Kylo’s point of view about what happened when Luke thought about killing Kylo, and then seeing the truth, was AWESOME!

That trauma is what’s driving these three films (or should be anyway). Why did Luke leave? Why are Leia and Han apart? Why did Ben Solo turn into Kylo Ren? This is a deep and poignant premise that I really loved.

Luke is going to train Rey like Yoda trained Luke!
Luke must be the Last Jedi.
Nope and nope.

Turns out Luke refuses to traditionally train Rey, and he’s not the last Jedi.

Going back to the trauma of Luke listening to the dark side and almost killing his nephew, his exile makes total sense. He inadvertently turned Ben, and blames himself for everything.

To be totally frank, THIS is the story I want to see. Showing me the aftermath kind of works, but man, if you want a heart-wrenching tale that fans will be talking about for years, give us that one.

I did love Luke’s final battle with Kylo. We got to see the grouchy old man he’d become mixed with some snark that was cool. I didn’t love that he died.

So who’s the last jedi?

We see that Leia has force powers when she pulls herself back into the ship after the bridge is hit near the beginning of the film.

There should have been little signs of this in the Episode VII. She says there is still good in Kylo, but that’s a mother talking. If they would have given us a couple of solid hints at her powers, her self-rescuing moment would have been met with cheers, instead of people cocking their heads to the side going, “huh?”

Her being the last Jedi works. Unfortunately, Carrie Fisher passed away before they could film Episode IX, so we’ll never know how that was truly supposed to play out.

Snoke must be Darth Plagueis:
Nope again.

I was so disappointed when Kylo so easily killed Snoke. (Although the scene was written well.)

Why have a cool bad guy if he’s that weak? This was maybe the last straw for me in this film. Who is the bad guy? Were they really going to throw in someone new for the very last movie of the Skywalker Saga? It made me twitch.

Other things I liked were that Finn and Rose actually failed in their crazy mission. That was kind of new for Star Wars, and it worked. I thought the fight with Rey and Kylo vs the throne room guards was great.

I also liked the two-edged sword of Kylo’s words to Rey when he says to leave the past behind or kill it if you have to. Well done there.

There’s no real mention of the balance of the force, which is what they promised us way back in Episode I. Grrr…

I think a single conversation between Holdo and Poe, where she listens to him instead of treating him like an inferior man, would have fixed a lot of this film. Sure, let him try his crazy plan. Keep him busy while Holdo work on this other plan.

The moment where Holdo dies was an amazing piece of cinematic art, but…where did that come from? Why has no one done it before? Or mentioned it as a possibility? This is just one of too many plot holes for my taste.

To me this film tossed aside or twisted too many of the expectations from Episode VII. A plot twist or two are great, but it felt like too many people said The Force Awakens was too much like A New Hope, so the director and writers of this movie said, “Fine! We’ll make it so different you won’t be able to whine about it this time!” (With some foot stomping and door slamming in there too.)

Like I said at the beginning, most people either loved this film or hated it. I don’t love it. Fresh ideas are good, but it’s still Star Wars. Respect the core material and go from there.

What are your thoughts on this film? Are you a lover or a hater?

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