“Becoming the Monster” Outline (Part 1)- The Macro-Perspective

LAST UPDATED ON: 2/4/2021

I’ve decided to write a couple of short stories. I’ve also decided to actively blog the outlines for my stories on my website. Why? Because I want my blog to demystify the writing process, and I can think of no better way of demystifying the outlining process than actually putting up my outline as I outline my story.

Now all cards on the table, I’m not a short story writer. I’ve written maybe five, and I’ve been writing off-and-on for fifteen years now. For perspective, I’ve written ~15 completed or mostly completed novels. I’ve read only thirty or forty short stories over the years (as opposed to 700+ novels), so shorts are also not really my favored reading media either. But I’m going to set my inexperience aside and give this a spin.

More cards on the table, I’m not much of an outliner. Those 15 novels I mentioned above were discovery written- meaning no outline. So this outline is something of a first for me.

Part of the reason why I’m putting this up here is the same reason why I’ve actively put up my advice on writing Story Structures; the best way to learn is by teaching other people. By outlining in public, I’ll learn how to outline; by short-storying in public, I’ll learn how to short-story. Just don’t expect anything herein to be any good ;).

NOTE: I will continually go back to my published outlines and stories, and continue to modify them after they have been published.


Format:

  • I intend to write a series of serialized fiction, one short story published per month, for a year. Each short will be a stand alone, but together they’ll tell a cohesive narrative.
  • The short stories will be between 5,000 and 10,000 words long.

Genres:

  • High Fantasy
  • Political Fantasy
  • Subgenres:
    • Hero’s Journey
    • Heroine’s Journey

Tropes I wish to use:

  • Political Intrigue
  • Knights in Shining Armor
  • Single Combat
  • Magical Duels, a la the witch and the wizard from Disney’s ‘Sword in the Stone.’
  • Religious Vampires
  • Human sacrifice and slave labor
  • Hero going from puny to powerful
  • Heroine going from political victim to political potentate
  • Siblings caught on other sides of a war, similar to Django Wexler’s ‘Ashes of the Sun.’
    • Maybe. I haven’t decided on this one yet
  • When giants walk, the little people get squished underfoot
  • Betrayal by people you trust
  • Harsh circumstances cause people to make rash decisions.

Themes:

  • “Becoming a Monster”
    • After people treat you like a monster
    • After people around you are monstrous to you
    • Because monsterousness is politically convenient
    • Even though you tried very hard not to become a monster, Fate forced your hand.

Characters:

POVS:

There will be four point of view characters. They belong to two factions, (Faction A) and (Faction B). They will participate in different plotlines/settings (Plotline/Setting X) and (Plotline Y)

  • Character Alpha (Name to be decided)
    • (Faction A)
    • (Plotline/Setting X)
    • Defining Flaw: Pride, Envy(?), Impatience(?)
      • The Defining Flaw, or the Tragic Flaw, is an integral part of this story’s magic system. Wielding magic causes the negative aspects of your personality to be enflamed. Most normal people use very little magic, so this isn’t much of a problem. But for the story’s vampires, their Defining Flaw is an enormous part of their character, thanks to the magical nature of their vampirism
      • Alpha is prideful in her family, in her heritage, in her hard work, in just about everything. Normally this can be a good thing for her, as it encourages her to keep what she has. But taken to it’s most extreme, her pride causes her to become singleminded.
    • Noblewoman, who before the beginning of the story thought her future was to be someone’s bride, married off to secure an alliance for her noble family.
    • Human, not vampire.
    • Going on a Heroine’s Journey a la ‘The Empire Trilogy’ by Janny Wurts and Raymond E. Feist
      • In short, she’s a noblewoman who’s been made a victim by political turbulence. To survive, she has to play The Game (aka scheming and politics).
    • She ends the book a schemer, a political savant, and a spymaster.
      • Therefore to provide the largest movement in her arc she needs to begin as the exact opposite of these things: She is a kind, loyal and trusting person.
    • Maybe kept in a convent until the beginning of the story? In order to establish her naivete?
    • Ends the book having made many friends, and enemies… and maybe even betrayed some friends if she had to. Not a nice lady.
      • I’m considering having Alpha betray Beta early on, maybe to save her own skin/the skin of her children. For example, sending Beta out to die in a heroic last stand, only for Beta to survive and be enslaved. And Beta doesn’t know about this betrayal.
    • Throughout the story she has to try to not get assassinated. The first time she’s nearly assassinated is by Epsilon. Epsilon nearly succeeds, because she’s not expecting Epsilon (who is a family retainer) to betray her.
    • In the beginning, her handmaid is Epsilon’s Daughter. Epsilon’s daughter leaves her during the betrayal.
    • Motives:
      • After she unexpectedly inherits power from her assassinated family, she must A) not get assassinated herself and b) stabilize her noble family’s powerbase, and slowly grow that power.
      • Use her power to accrue more power, then use that additional power to make herself safe, and avenge her dead clan.
    • Style/Personality:
      • Always polite/respectful, even to her most hated enemies.
      • Begins the book naïve to the dangers of her circumstances.
      • When she goes about obtaining her goals, she tries to use nonviolent means first and foremost, but violence is an option (particularly if she can do it subtly).
    • To avenge her family she must… become a monster. In this case, I mean monster to be a political schemer, the same sort of scheming which led to her clan’s defeat in the first place. by becoming
  • Character Beta (Name to be decided)
    • (Faction A)
    • (Plotline/Setting Y)
    • Defining Flaw: Wrath, Gluttony, Sadism
      • From a young age he received Paladin training so he can control his negative emotions, as from a young age he was expected to use magic on a daily basis. However his rebellious nature (which was itself inpart an outgrowth of his wrath) makes him dissatisfied with the status quo. He has trouble controlling his wrath as a result.
      • Gluttony because when he gets transformed into a vampire, I want him to try and fail to control it.
        • (His father and elder brother were both unrepentant vampires, who took pleasure in their gluttony. While Beta never was a vampire until the midpoint of this story, he still learned gluttony from his family? Thinks it’s fate?)
    • Blood Kin of Alpha. (Brother? Son? Nephew? Uncle? Husband?)
    • He starts the story human, but at some point he’s enslaved by an enemy vampire, who turns him into a vampire in order to control him.
    • Warrior/Sailor/Raider/Viking/Paladin Nobleman
    • He is a reformer. He is an aristocrat, in a world where aristocrats can kill their peasants. He wants to fix this/address this.
      • In particular, his own family/clan to stop it.
      • His own family doesn’t want to stop, and at the beginning they’re trying to subtly kill him off to get rid of his embarrasment.
    • Right now, I’m thinking he starts the series as the Squire to Epsilon’s Knight.
      • The purpose of this relationship is to establish a pre-existing relationship between the two. The relationship will turn antagonistic when Epsilon betrays Beta.
    • NOT A GREAT WARRIOR
      • In this setting there are TONS of great warriors. He is not one of them. He’s either so young he’s inexperienced, or so old he’s lost his touch.
      • The reason why he’s not a great warrior, is so that by the end of the book he can become a great warrior as his character arc.
    • He loses a battle, and gets kidnapped and enslaved by a vampire who is a part of (Faction C). And by ‘enslaved’ I mean he’s the vampire’s favorite meal.
      • He was betrayed by Alpha. Alpha needed a distraction for REASONS, and sent Beta out to go die being a distraction.
      • My thinking:
        • In the first short story, there was an assassination attempt against alpha
        • Alpha survives, but she tricks both Beta and the assassins about her whereabouts for the next assassination attempt.
        • Beta and the assassins go to the whereabouts of the second assassination attempt, thinking she’ll be there. She isn’t. Instead they fight, and Beta loses the fight.
        • Is Epsilon the assassin? I like it!
        • (Maybe have the trick be this:
          • Alpha gets in a carriage, and rides through exposed territory. Beta is outside the carriage, guarding it, because he’s a warrior.
          • Alpha tips off the assassins that she’ll be in the carriage, so they follow the carriage+Beta. However Alpha is not in the carriage.
          • When the carriage is exposed, Beta and the assassins fight, and beta loses.
          • Epsilon is the assassin
          • Meanwhile, Alpha uses the distraction to escape her safe compound and run for the hills, saving her life and preserving the existance of her clan… even if it costs Beta’s life (apparently).
    • His plot arc is that a) he must earn his freedom, b) he must defeat the vampire he lost to in the beginning (and since he beat him, he replaces the vampire as leader of the vampire’s nation) and c) he must return to Character A and provide her an ally by bringing the vampire’s nation of (Faction C) along with him.
      • In this instance, if a person defeats another one in single combat, that results in legally binding transfers of power. In this case, Beta challenges the vampire, and assumes control of (Faction C).
    • Note: in order to defeat the vampire he must… (drumroll goes here)… become the monster, and become a vampire himself.
      • Or maybe he always was a vampire, but refused to drink blood? And his ‘fall from grace’ plotline involves him starting to drink blood in order to gain power?
    • Motive
      • Simple. He’s a knight in shining armor, a paladin who uses holy magic to heal and protect people.
      • He begins the book a reformer. He comes from a corrupt society, where the aristocrats oppress their serfs and peasants. He’s been made pariah as a result of his desires to reform- and his pariah status is what leads to him being kidnapped and enslaved.
      • The conflict with his motivations comes from the fact that he lives in a fallen world, and he must act repugnantly in order to triumph. In his case, he must willingly decide to accept vampirism (vampirism being a metaphor for oppressing the lower classes) in order to find his freedom, gain control of (Faction C) and use (Faction C) to help Character A save (Faction A).
    • Style/Personality
      • Still need to think about this one.
      • Thinks with his fists
      • Either (or both?)
        • He starts the book angry, and he loses his initial fight with the vampire because of his anger. Over the course of all the short stories, he learns patience, and the value of thinking strategically.
        • He starts the book kind and happy. He believes wants to reform the system he comes from (a serfdom-embracing empire), but he by-and-large he embraces all the other pillars which uphold the system. Over the course of the short stories, he becomes jaded by the system (as he’s come to be on the short end of the stick of the system). At the end, he realizes that the entire system needs to be thrown down, not just one one part he was rebelling against in the first place.
  • Character Gamma (Name to be decided)
    • (Faction B)
    • (Plotline/Setting Y)
    • Defining Flaw:
      • Caution, which turns into suspicion and paranoia when she uses her power. But she received training from a young age to control her emotions.
      • Envy(?)
      • ?
    • She belongs to the faction antagonistic to Characters Alpha and Beta. She’s an ambassador from Faction B to Faction C which is controlled by the vampire who enslaved Character Beta.
    • She is the sworn enemy of Faction A because of REASONS.
    • She is a cleric, which means she practices magic/miracleworking.
    • She’s an assassin, because clerics in this setting are also assassins. LEGAL assassins (see the Morag Tong from Elder Scrolls for my inspiriation).
      • In this story, she’s investigating the murder of Alpha’s fiance, at least in the beginning. While she is an assassin, the Church doesn’t like other people assassinating people. She’s an assassin hunting down the other assassins.
    • Begins the story antagonistic to Characters Alpha and Beta, but over the course of her storyline she becomes more and more sympathetic to their cause.
      • As Alpha is a manipulator, have Gamma be a manipulatee? The reason why she becomes more agreeable is because Alpha (and Beta) try to reason with her? I like it!
    • Also, consider a romance plot arc between Beta and Gamma.
      • HAPPY ENDING REQUIRED. NO BITTERSWEET SHIT HERE.
      • If they do hook up, have them actually fall in love, get married, the works.
    • But if you do have a romance arc, make sure they don’t start as friends.
    • Maybe have Beta and Gamma share scenes meditating together. They both recieved Church training to control their emotions, so even though they’re on opposite sides as long as the pair of them are in truce scenario there’s no reason why they wouldn’t meditate together.
    • Maybe have her also be a reformer like Beta, which makes her having to work at cross-purposes with Beta super awkward. But as they come from different Houses/Clans/Tribes/Whatever, she has to struggle against him. But the fact that they are both reformers acts a bridge between the two, allowing Gamma and Beta to see eye to eye, and Gamma to switch sides.
    • She is the metaphorical mirror to Character Alpha: a schemer, manipulator, trickster, who wields political power. But differently from Alpha.
    • She’s autistic? How can an autistic character be a political schemer? That would be interesting to write.
    • Motive
    • Personality/style
  • Character Epsilon (Name to be decided)
    • (Faction B)
      • He’s initially (Faction A) but switches sides
    • (Plotline/Setting X)
    • Defining Flaw: (Not ‘protecting his family.’ ‘Protecting your family’ is a good thing. I need an outright flaw.)
      • Maybe Greed (he can be bribed)
      • Brooding
      • Ambitious
    • Outright villain/Main Antagonist/Dragon of the Main Antagonist
    • Mirror to Character Beta: warrior, strong where Beta is weak.
    • Unlike Alpha, Beta and Gamma, he was born a peasant in a world of lords. Through hard work and effort he ascended and became a warrior.
    • He’s a sworn knight of FACTION A, but switches sides.
    • Betrayed (Faction A). used to be Faction A’s champion, but when A needed him most he betrayed them to B. Then he defeated Character Beta, and sold him into slavery.
    • Why is he a jerk? Is he a jerk? Or is he misunderstood?
      • He betrayed Faction A for money?
    • Motive
      • He wants to protect his daughter, raise her to be as wealthy and powerful as possible.
      • He wants what’s best for his family. HIS family, not the clan he is sworn to serve. (The Clan being Faction A)
      • He knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of an oppressed society, and doesn’t want that for her. However, as soon he dies he’s going to
    • Personality/Style

Non POV Characters

Plot- I’m of the opinion that all good narratives have four major principles: Conflict, Risk, Opposition, and Change.

  • Conflict
    • Character Conflicts
      • Between Epsilon and Alpha
        • The nature of this conflict is that of Lord to betraying Knight. Of a protector betraying someone who lived their entire life trusting the betrayer.
      • Between Epsilon and Beta
        • Of Knight to Squire, forced to fight on opposite sides of a war due to conflicting loyalties. Of trust betrayed, in a more personal way compared to that between Alpha and Epsilon. Beta and Epsilon spent hundreds of hours training together, getting to know one another as personal friends, so this betrayal hits Beta HARD.
      • Between Gamma and Alpha
        • Rivals on opposite sides in a faction war. Once upon a time they were friends, but that time has long past. They bear no animosity for one another, but both are scheming to eliminate the other.
        • As Terry Pratchett once said, if someone is holding you at gunpoint, prey they are an evil man, because the evil man will gloat and monologue before they kill you. A good man will just kill you. Gamma is not evil. Gamma is going to kill Alpha and Beta in the simplest, cleanest, most efficient possible manner which involves the least danger to herself.
      • Between Gamma and Beta
        • Enemies-to-friends, and maybe enemies-to-lovers.
        • They’re at court, and have to work together. Beta has been enslaved by Gamma’s ally, so they have to work together.
        • Over the course of the story, Gamma comes to realize that her ‘ally’ is more intolerable than Beta, so she switches sides and works with Beta, freeing him.
    • Factional Conflicts
      • Faction A vs Faction B
        • First of all, they are factions which compete for territory. Both are Duchies in the same Empire/Kingdom. Resources are always scarce, and oftentimes the best way to survive is to take from someone else.
        • Second, Faction A and B are on opposite sides of a social issue- namely the right for serfs/peasants to not be killed by their lords. Faction A is Anti-Serfs, while Faction B is Pro-Serfs.
          • this is the issue Beta (and to a lesser extend Epsilon) want to reform. They want A to become more like B.
      • The Serfs vs The Lords
        • The serfs live under the bootheel of the aristocracy. In this case, the aristocracy includes vampires, so that means the serfs get eaten.
          • NOTE: Faction B doesn’t kill their peasants, but they still oppress their peasants. So even though B claims to be on the side of the peasantry, the peasantry don’t always see it that way.
        • NOTE: Epsilon is a peasant by birth. He knows what it’s like being afraid for your life.
        • Alpha, Gamma and Beta are both Lords. Alpha does not care about serfdom, beyond it providing her laborers. Gamma cares about serfs because she is from Faction B, and because she’s a cleric who works with the peasantry on a daily basis. Beta DOES care, and STRONGLY about serf rights despite the fact that he’s from faction A.
    • Thematic Conflicts
      • Power vs Weakness
        • Early on, Epsilon defeats Beta because Beta is the weaker. This is reversed later.
        • Early on, Faction A is defeated by Faction B. Later this is reversed.
        • The peasant revolt is deeply entrenched with this theme.
      • Oppression vs Freedom
        • The peasant revolt involves this theme
        • Beta’s enslavement plotline involves this theme
        • Alpha will have a marriage plotline, where she willingly binds herself to someone who disgusts her- a form of oppression. Later she earns her freedom.
      • Redemption vs Corruption
        • Alpha and Beta are on corruption arcs, starting the book as good people and ending as bad ones.
        • (But at the same time Beta learns an important lesson about his own faction, and begins reforming it to make it truly just.)
        • Gamma and Epsilon are on Redemption arcs, starting the book doing bad deeds only to do good deeds later.
  • Opposition
    • Inbuilt into the factional nature of the conflicts of this story; A vs B; lords vs serfs…
  • Risk
    • Risk of death. The story starts off with Faction B culling the leadership of Faction A. For the rest of the story, every member of Faction A has a sword hanging above their necks.
    • Risk of enslavement. Those who aren’t culled are sold into slavery (see Beta). And slavery means being eaten by vampires.
    • Going forward into the book, Faction B knows that they CANNOT lose against Faction A, because Faction A will at best repay in kind (death and enslavement). Both sides are playing for keeps.
  • Change
    • The story can only be resolved with the destruction of either Faction A or B, and the primacy of either Serf Freedom or Serf Slavery. There is no middle ground.
      • (Maybe there is no middle ground. If Beta and Gamma get married, there might be a peaceful political alliance possible.)

Structure

Act 1

  • Begins with a duel. Beta must proove that he’s in complete control of himself. If he passes test, his demon can be removed. He fails, in part because his evil elder brother meddles.
  • Beta’s Father/Epsilon’s master is planning to become a god. He’s the most powerful vampire lord on the planet. This secret is revealed partway through the act.
  • Epsilon, Beta and Gamma go look up a cult. Thy discover the cult is worshipping beta’s dad. Have this short story be the cleric (gamma) the paladins (beta and Epsilon) and the cultists debating about the truth of theology. NOTE: none of them are aware the gods are dead. The cultists make the claim they’re dead, but the cleric and paladins deny it… however the clergy all have no explaination for why the gods have been silent lately. The cultists try to use the limitless power of their new god (beta’s dad) to win the argument (miracles from the water, tree, the sky), but clergy win the arguement against the cultists by citing dogma and the words of the gods. By winning the argument they discover it’s the dad. This pisses EVERYONE off.

Act 2

  • Beta’s father is killed by Epsilon, because Epsilon doesn’t want the guy to become a god. (Epsilon does not yet know the other gods are dead, so this murder is understandable in E not wanting idolotry.)
  • Beta is taken captive by XYZ, to be used as a Title Monkey. Meaning, he’s a hostage and they plan on using him to get access to all of his sire’s titles/conquest. Beta and his elder brother are now in conflict hardcore, but Beta is protected by his hostage takers. His captors try to convince him to marry someone, but as he’s a paladin and sworn to chastity he cannot.
  • Act ends with Beta’s brother being killed, and Alpha inheriting the throne.
  • Alpha, now that her father is dead, is forced into an unhappy marriage with ??? by her elder brother. He’s sidelining her, shoving her into an unimportant marriage just to get her out of the way. She’s not happy about this. Does she plot to kill him herself? Or maybe she just tricks him into getting himself killed.

Act 3

  • Beta is tortured by his captors. They’re trying to break his paladin will, so they can mind-control him via parasite domination. The torture is repeatedly forcing him to break his oath not to eat people. When he starts willingly eating people, his will breaks and then he can be dominated to actively help in their conquest/agree to marriage alliance.

Act 4

Act 5

  • Twelve part structure, due to being broken up into once-a-month segments.
  • 1
    • Point of View: Character Beta
    • What is this Story?
      • A prelude to the serialized fiction series.
      • From the point of view of Beta. Beta’s mentor Epsilon is the character who upsets the status quo. The purpose of this short story is to
        • Show Beta and Epsilon.
        • Provide motivation for Epsilon to betray Faction A in favor of Faction B. Why does he want the word to change? Why does he want to switch sides
        • Show the status quo before the story begins, before Epsilon disrupts it.
    • Plot: Epsilon and Beta go on an adventure. Perhaps they engage in a single-combat duel against (Faction C), to introduce the primacy of single-combat which is important throughout the setting. Perhaps they’re fighting over a contested bit of territory.
      • Maybe they’re not fighting over territory. Maybe they’re fighting over an assassination?
      • So the fight is between the champions of (Faction A) and (Faction D) against (Faction C).
      • Maybe have Faction B in secret throw the match to Epsilon and Beta, as part of a deal. ‘Sweetening the pot,’ to get Epsilon on their side. (Faction B and C are on the same side as one another, so B can sweeten the deal.)
      • Here’s how it’s goes:
        • A duel between the two sides champions. Namely the First and Second. If the First champion backs out last minute, it’s up to the Second to step up and fight.
        • Begin with Beta and Epsilon meditating in the prelude to battle. They are Paladins- cleric warriors who pick up the sword with reluctance.
          • Or rather Epsilon is a Paladin, and Beta his Squire. And Beta is flunking his Paladin training. Simply put he’s not in strong enough control of his emotions to pass.
        • Before the fight, a Knight-Templar from the Paladin Order approaches Epsilon, saying he’s here to appraise Beta, see if he’s ready to continue his training. If Beta doesn’t have strong enough control of his emotions, he’ll flunk out of the Paladin Order. Epsilon and Beta protest, to no avail.
          • We now have stakes. Beta will lose something very important to him if he loses the fight.
          • Beta must not only win the fight, but also win it with tranquility. Paladins fight with peace in their hearts, never rage.
          • (NOTE: At this point, Beta doesn’t know yet he’s going to fight. He thinks he’s going to be a Second. Phrase this comment to take that into account.)
          • MAYBE have the Knight-Templar be watching in from the rafters, and not introduce himself? Have the scene start with Beta brooding, knowing that he’s in trouble, struggling for calm in the face of this great trial.
          • This plotpoint is how you rapidly make Beta (and therefore Epsilon) more empathizeable by the reader. Beta REALLY wants to pass this test. The reader must want him to succeed too.
            • What will he do if he becomes a Paladin? This is the key. Will Beta be given a healing artifact, which he can use to heal someone dear to him? Maybe his mother?
            • Meet his mother early on in this scene (or whoever it is he’s healing). Nice, but not to the point of being sickly sweet. Maybe sitting in the crowd, waving a flag, small speaking role. Dying of cancer?
            • The reason why it’s important to have a purpose behind his desire to succeed, is because it allows the reader to connect with Beta. The reader (probably) cant empathize with a guy who’s about to engage in single magical combat with a guy, for the fate of whether or not he gets to join the Paladin Order. But they CAN empathize with a guy who’s struggling to save his mother’s life.
            • So when he is kicked out of the Order, thanks to his brother’s interferance (brother from another mother), it REALLY stings. He swears revenge.
        • They are fighting over Faction D’s ‘Harvesting Rights’ over land controlled by Faction C. The First is Faction D’s main champion- Alpha’s future husband/fiance. The Second is Beta, who’s from Faction A and is supporting their ally Faction D.
          • “Harvesting Rights” is the right for a vampire aristocrat to drink the blood- and take the lives- of the peasantry who lives in an area.
          • NOTE: Epsilon and Beta VIOLENTLY object to even the concept of ‘Harvesting Rights.’ They are both vamps(I think? Think it over), so even among vampires this concept is controvertial.
            • If they are vamps, they’re non-blood drinkers. Abstainers.
        • Unexpectedly, Faction D’s champion is a no-show. Beta was the Second, but then becomes the First. Beta’s a scrub, so he feels terrified. Beta was made the Second because this is a chance for him to earn some Cred (Knights earn Cred as a part of their system of single-combat duels). Now Epsilon (Beta’s mentor) is the new Second.
        • Alpha and leaders of Faction A and Faction B come down, asking where her fiance is. She came to the duel to support him and see him fight. He’s a no-show. She comes down with her Handmaiden, Epsilon’s daughter. Epsilon sends Alpha and Handmaiden to go find Fiance.
          • At this point, Faction B are allies of Faction A.
          • Leaders from include Faction A: Beta’s Father, and his elder brother (who is in line for the throne.) NOTE: Elder brother wants to kill Beta, and Beta knows it. Inheritance is on the line, and Father’s getting old.
          • Make it clear that Elder Brother is the one who is setting Beta up to die.
        • Epsilon begs Faction A and Faction B leaders to let him replace Beta. They refuse. Not only do they refuse, but they outright insult Epsilon while they’re at it.
          • Epsilon and Beta are pissed about the fact that they’re having to do this fight. Not only because they’re risking their lives when D’s champion skipped town (really he was assassinated), but also they’re pissed that they’re risking their lives to earn territory for a faction of serf-slavers/vampires. Both Epsilon and Beta are anti serf-slavery/aristocrats killing serfs.
          • Make it clear that elder brother is setting Beta up to die.
          • Further, Epsilon is serf-born. They insult Epsilon’s serf heritage
          • NOTE: Faction A leader is trying to get his rebellious son killed. He even bribed the enemy champion to do the killing.
        • After Faction A leaders leave, Faction B leaders talks to Epsilon in private.
          • Says “Listen, I hear you’re not happy with Faction A’s treatment of you. If you want, I’m willing to hire you. You’re a great duelist; I’m willing to pay double what Faction A is offering you.”
          • “Tempting, but no. I’m loyal Faction A.”
          • “Just keep Faction B in mind if you want a new employer. The world’s changing, and sometimes the strong thing to do is support people who treat you right. Together we can free the serfs.” He turns to Beta. “Good luck.”
          • “Thank you, sir,” Beta says as Faction B leaves. Beta says to Epsilon, “You should take him up on the job. If I wasn’t related to Faction A, I would leave Faction A in a heartbeat. We’re scum.”
          • “Don’t even think that. Faction A- your family-has treated me well over the years. I won’t have anyone speak badly of them to me- even you.”
          • NOTE: in the next chapter Faction A REALLY wrongs Epsilon, causing him to switch sides.
        • Beta begs Epsilon to take over for him. Epsilon calms Beta down. “Don’t panic. Remember your fundamentals. I believe in you. However, if things go sour, just try to survive and shout at the judges that you surrender. But you won’t lose because I believe in you.” Beta then doublechecks his gear, to make sure it’s all in peak condition.
          • Epsilon is the villain of this story. At this point we demonstrate that he’s a nice person.
        • There’s a fight. Beta does surprisingly well. Make the battle stylish. Beta is TERRIFIED the entire time.
          • The fight begins with the enemy champion admitting that Faction A leader (Beta’s Father) bribed him to kill Beta.
          • At first Beta doesn’t believe this. But then he puts together the pieces.
            • Father forced Beta to be the Second.
            • Father (probably) bribed the First to be a no-show, forcing Beta to fight.
            • Father runs a serf-auction shop (basically a slave-trade shop for ‘tasty’ serfs/serf bloodlines). Beta DETESTS this fact about his father, and has made repeated (embarrasing) protests against this practice.
            • Beta was always dead-weight. According to the system of inheritance, Beta would inherit territory that would otherwise go to his elder brother, and both father and brother were looking for plausible deniablility in eliminating Beta
          • Beta triumphs in the end, by relying on his rage. To survive the battle, he must kill his enemy… or very nearly kill him. (Think over which.) Because he uses his rage, he flunks out of the Paladin Order.
          • The purpose of this fight is to prove that Beta is no slouch. However when he fights Epsilon in chapter 3 we see that Beta loses HARDCORE. The reason for this is to show that Beta is good, but Epsilon is BETTER.
        • The Knight-Templar of the Paladin Order steps forward and strips Beta of his squireship, because Beta killed/nearly killed his opponent on the battlefield. A paladin fights with tranquility, not rage.
        • After having won the fight but lost his lifelong dream of becoming a Paladin, Beta goes up to confront his eldest brother. Elder brother set up the situation, putting Beta in a no-win situation: either Beta kill his opponent, or Beta dies. Eldest brother just laughs. Father doesn’t care (senile? actively malicious? he’s not physically present? Or maybe they’re all vampires, so sibling murder is just sort of a thing they do.)
          • Beta swears revenge. Joining the order was his chance to save his mother’s life, a chance which is now lost.
        • Epsilon comforts Beta, promises to approach the Knight-Templar and try to get Beta a second chance. “Your heart is in the right place, for all the fact that you aren’t very talented. I’ve still not given up on you.”
        • Beta is also angry because he had to defend the institution of serf-slavery on behalf of Faction A. He HATES that fact. (Elder bro is pro serfdom)
        • Epsilon then finished the chapter by trying to track down Alpha and Handmaiden.
      • Beginning: Establish characters, stakes
        • Characters
          • Epsilon: kind to Beta, loyal to Faction A, to his daughter, to Alpha
          • Beta: Angry at the treatment of peasants, idolizing Epsilon
        • Plot
      • Middle:
        • Characters
          • Epsilon:
            • Treated poorly by Beta/Alpha’s relatives/the powerful people in faction A.
            • Forced to risk his life for something he doesn’t believe in because Faction A demands it.
          • Beta:
            • Forced to risk his life for something he doesn’t believe in.
            • He’s a rebel, but he’s forced to protect an institution he hates because Faction A demands it.
        • Plot
      • End:
        • Characters
          • Epsilon
            • He wins the battle, but winds up having doubts about Faction A because they forced him to do something he never wanted to do.
          • Beta
            • Same with Beta. They won a battle, and now he’s furious at his relatives for forcing him to defend an institution he hates.
        • Plot
    • Have the higherups of Faction A (aka the people who run faction A before Alpha inherits) treat Epsilon with disrespect.
    • Normal Questions to answer
      • Does this scene advance the plot?
      • Does this scene advance the characters?
      • Does this scene draw the reader in?
      • Does this scene impart important information?
      • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
      • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
      • What is the subtext of the dialog?
      • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
      • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 2
    • Point of View: Epsilon
    • What is this Story?
      • The in-between the Inciting Incident (which is in part 3) and the beginning
      • The purpose of this story is to provide the Inciting Incident for the Inciting Incident. At this point we’re still locked in the Status Quo, but forces are moving in the background leading to inevitable change.
      • Introduce Alpha, Epsilon’s Daughter, and Gamma.
      • We learn that Beta’s father/Epsilon’s master is planning on becoming a god.
    • Plot: Set up another round of single combat in chapter 3
      • This chapter needs it’s own plot, it can’t be all prelude to the next chapter.
  • Normal Questions to answer
    • Does this scene advance the plot?
    • Does this scene advance the characters?
    • Does this scene draw the reader in?
    • Does this scene impart important information?
    • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
    • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
    • What is the subtext of the dialog?
    • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
    • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 3
    • Point of View:
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?

  • 4
    • Point of View
    • Gamma
  • What happens in this chapter?
    • Gamma is an inquisitor, who is sent out on a mission to investigate the reports of an illegal cult popping up, siphoning off magic and prayer from the Church
    • In this chapter we learn of the backstory of the gods being dead, and how the Church now functions in quashing heretical cults which still worship them.
    • In short, Gamma must catch and kill the priest of the cult
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?

  • 5
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 6
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 7
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 8
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 9
  • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 10
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 11
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?
  • 12
    • Point of View
  • Normal Questions to answerDoes this scene advance the plot?
  • Does this scene advance the characters?
  • Does this scene draw the reader in?
  • Does this scene impart important information?
  • What is the subtext of this scene (both narrative and emotional subtext)?
  • What is the plain text of this scene, and how is it different from the subtext?
  • What is the subtext of the dialog?
  • Is the plain text of the dialog different from the subtext of the dialog, and if not why not?
  • Is this chapter good enough to be someone’s favorite short in the series?

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