Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Story Design: TNG
(Plus: It Went Right This time.)

So, as on previous occasions, once again here is a glimpse into the complete story design for the latest cycle of ARISEN material, Books Eleven and Twelve. As before there are definite SPOILERS if you haven't read these books. (Though I've closed the folders for the rest of the series, so you're safe there.)

I've changed things up a bit, as I continue to evolve the story design process. Basically, this time I had the (perhaps too-) clever idea of integrating all the views. Every "beat" in the story gets a document, but each has several faces/functions. You can see these below (click image for a full-size view): each has a name in the file tree (left); a notecard view (upper right); a dumping ground for all the notes related to that beat (lower right); and, finally – and this is the really clever bit – the body of the document (second to left) is a one-paragraph-ish, readable description of what happens in that beat. When all of these are concatenated together, they produce a readable treatment of the entire story – at about 1/6th of what the final length would actually be. (That's an actual chapter, written from the beat's treatment, in the next window to the right.)

Then, before I'd written a word, I could send the treatments around to my faithful beta readers, and find out if I was on anything like the right track. Where I wasn't, I could make changes a lot easier than trying to re-architect a fully fleshed-out manuscript. And when I shuffled beats around, everything – notecard, notes, treatment – moved with it. This was a lot more work in the design phase, but – if not less work on the writing side – then a lot less risk (of catastrophic wrong turns), and (if I do say so myself) a hell of a lot better final material (see bottom section, below the image).

It Went Right

If you've been following along, you may recall that I copped to doing some critical things wrong in the last two books, and vowed to get them right the next time out. Well, I'm pretty sure it worked. But it's the readers who get to make that judgement.

And so far they're voting thumbs-up – a 5.0-star average, out of five. As noted elsewhere, getting these two books written was absolutely the fight of my life. That I seemed to come out on top in the end is a pretty great feeling. On to the next one.

  arisen     storytelling     writing     story design  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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