I worked through various stages of plot development before The Ka was finished to first draft. You’ll recognize many story writing tips as you move through this analysis of the First Chapter of the book.
The plot involves archaeology and ancient Egypt. Because of the endless amount of history—I studied 3,500 years of Egyptian Dynasties before beginning to write the story—I knew I could do a lot of descriptive writing. It was exciting!
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But right now, let me back up a bit and give you some history about how this plot came to be. It’s the first in the stages of plot development for this novel.
While finishing work on my novel, The Tropics, a strange occurrence happened that gave me the idea for the plot of my next novel, The Ka.
Actually, from my list of story writing tips, I had already chosen to begin a different novel. My notes and outline had already been developed.
I woke about 2:00 a.m. one morning having had a strange dream about both modern and ancient Egypt.
As I concentrated on the scenes, I must have gone back to sleep. I bolted awake again.
I raced for my computer and sat for nearly five hours while I wrote out what I had seen, everything that occurred in the dream, including costumes and actions. This was the first of the stages of plot development.
I had difficulty fixing the genre, however. It would be a fantasy because the story contained aspects of the paranormal, magic and spells, and time travel. It would also be historical.
I rushed to find an agent for my first novel, The Tropics, finally deciding to publish it print-on-demand.
During those four years, I continued to write and publish short stories and poetry. But I needed to write instead of spending eight hours every day researching.
Surprisingly, once I decided to spend an hour or so a day dedicated to developing a new book, I wrote a completely different story. It was a mystery/suspense. I finished the first draft. Then I let it rest.
I wrote, edited, re-researched, and finally polished The Ka after another four years. Some stages of plot development take a while. I had to make sure all the facts were accurate.
All of the information in The Ka is factual, everything from clothing and costumes, to how a tomb is emptied of its artifacts and how they are preserved, to weather and how the Ancients planted crops, and on and on.
Everything in this story about archaeology and ancient Egypt is what I learned during my research. All except the threads of fantasy, which are tightly woven through present-day reality and back into history history.
All those lives make subplots that contribute to the main plot line of The Ka. Take a look at the character list too.
The character list is also included in the actual book. It is just another of the stages of plot development.
To help you analyze this first chapter, presented here are the tips and suggestions that are also used for the first chapter of The Tropics or any book, for that matter.
Paying attention to these details can help you pick up many story writing tips for your own story. The articles presented in the Articles section of this site will cover many more aspects of writing.
Throughout each of the stages of plot development, remember…
The very first word or two should grab the reader’s attention.
In books written ages ago, it might have been okay to begin “The weather was temperate. I was feeling good.” Today, this is a waste of eight first words.
Today’s readers want action or something to grab
their attention to entice them to read further. Readers want to be
dropped into the story and take off running before they feel their feet
hit the ground. That's great plot development.
Always, that’s ALWAYS; remember to include the five senses.
Most always, you will write the story from the point of view of your main character’s five senses.
Remember that if writing from only character’s point of view, that character cannot know what is going on in the minds of any of the others who people the story. Those characters must express themselves through dialogue or action to play out their parts.
All of the main characters should be revealed early on.
Oftentimes, new characters are introduced late in a story. This seems only a crutch to get out of a dead-end plot situation to get the action moving again.
There can be no saviors dropping into a story, only characters interacting together from near the beginning and carrying the plot toward conclusion.
Some exceptions occur and can add excitement to the story. I did that in The Ka, introduced someone very special very late. Adding that person did not disturb the main plot in any way. But it greatly enhanced a subplot. Big difference.
An exception to this rule is that in a book of this size, characters can come and go throughout the story. Just make sure they don’t drop into the story to solve a problem and then leave. They must mesh totally into the plot and have something more to do than give the writer an easy out when writing a difficult passage. The reader will know it if this is so.
Work in those occasional characters during the plot development. Give them more meaning than being a scapegoat. If you can't work them in smoothly, don't include them. Instead, use an existing character to solve the problem.
Important characteristics of each character should be exposed.
Not important is a visual run-down of what each character may look like.
Most important is to build each character’s personality. It’s okay to state a few facts about their physical appearance, but it’s best done when describing them in action.
If certain information doesn’t help us visualize the character, or doesn’t apply as foreshadowing to action deeper into the story, leave it out.
In other words, if a man never ties his shoes, only include something like that to emphasize his lackadaisical attitude that you’ve already established. If deeper into the story, it’s what causes him to fall and break his neck, use it. Otherwise, leave it out.
Every act, every word, must contribute to plot development.
Almost everything in the first chapter should be considered foreshadowing.
All the plot action and character traits are a set-up to propel the rest of the plot development.
An article on foreshadowing is posted in the Articles section of this site.
The main dilemma of the story line should be introduced in the first chapter and not solved till the very end of the book.
The main dilemma can also be strongly hinted at as long as it’s immediately and progressively developed as the story moves along.
An open ending of each chapter, known as the proverbial cliffhanger, encourages the reader to turn the page
Try to have cliffhangers at the ends of each chapter. That's good, tight plot development.
Don’t bring all the action to a close just because it’s the chapter’s end. The reader won’t have a reason to read further.
Leave some events open and questions unanswered. All the while, infuse that chapter with all that it can hold for that particular scene.
Give your characters tough situations to face that show promise of resolution later.
Tough situations are what make the story. Plot development is nothing without it.
All readers know that most situations get worse before they get better. This should determine exactly where you step into the action of the dilemma.
Yes, step into it. Do not try to build the dilemma. You will be building back-story. Have the situation already happening.
Back-story is information that helps show why the characters have a dilemma.
Points like this are best worked out in the planning, in the stages of writing development. In fact, it's during plot development that all details should mesh, long before beginning to write.
Use back-story sparingly. Introduce it in snippets of conversation, or in your characters’ memories. Use it only if it enhances the present action.
Too much back-story and the action will stall instead of plunging your reader head first into the plot.
See if you can find all of the above in this first chapter. Pick out which facts might be foreshadowing for later chapters throughout the book. Ask yourself, “Why is this mentioned?”
Story writing tips are given.
(In case you happen to notice places where paragraphs could have been joined, I've purposely broken up some of the longer paragraphs from the way they appeared in the novel. This is done for easier on-site reading.)
For an easier read-through, the Ka Characters are listed on the Villains, Heroines, and Others page.
Here then is the first chapter from The Ka.
A paranormal Egyptian Fantasy
“Witch!” Randy Osborne said, as he strode around the room wearing a contemptible smirk. “You’re an out ’n out witch.”
“Your choice of labels defines your ignorance,” she said, not backing down from his stare. Witch was his mother's terminology. He always listened to her. Randy seemed unable to form his own opinions. If pressed, he always quoted his mother.
Others in the group expressed mixed reactions, but Chione Ini-herit had grown emotionally strong enough to withstand Randy's cruel taunting. Shortly after they met and she learned of interning with him, she decided that anything Randy said would not tear at her equilibrium. Her passive attitude, till now, kept him in line.
With the very first word, the stage is set with paranormal implications that run through this story.
Notice the punctuation with that first word. Someone is angry; maybe wants to make a point in dramatic fashion.
Both the protagonist (Chione, pronounced shee-ohn Ini-Herit), and one of the antagonists, (Randy Osborne), are revealed.
Notice that I opened with one of the antagonists. He makes the story leap into action.
Early on, this is one among the stages of plot development that’s an absolute must: The reader must be shown through whose point of view (POV) the story is being told.
The story began with Randy for a reason, to propel the action. Two brief sentences because it’s not his POV through which we’ll see the story unfold. The second and third paragraphs tell us about Chione’s thoughts and feelings. It’s through the character of Chione that the story will be told. We realize we are seeing what she sees and we are now climbing into her mind.
As readers get deeper into the story, they learn that Chione’s personality seems passive-aggressive. She wasn’t the right person to jump-start the plot, though she offers up many surprises later.
In these paragraphs’ you get the flavor of both Chione and Randy’s personalities. You know what we can expect out of them.
You also see a little back-story, about Chione interning with Randy. This is how back-story comes into play in the present moment.
“Here, here,” Clifford Rawlings said in her support.
This was the first time Chione had a chance to see all the members of the archaeological team together in one room. They were older than she was and that, at times, was a little intimidating. Her own demeanor was quiet, meditative; maybe passive-aggressive, and she sometimes became overwhelmed with their high-spirited personalities. Yet, being allowed to accompany these professionals to the dig site in Egypt was the chance of a lifetime. Presently, she would be happy to sit back and watch the team members goad one another.
Information came at her so quickly it numbed her senses. With the whole team together, their voices assaulted her in round after round of quips and retorts that would send the meek fleeing. Getting to know these people could not wait until they arrived at the dig site when work would proceed at full speed. The only way to get to know them as a team began here. Now.
Aaron Ashby stepped up behind her. “You don’t know the meaning of ‘witch,’ Randy.” Chione felt Aaron’s hand touch her shoulder but he removed it right away, minding his manners. “What gives you the right to label anyone?”
“Because she predicted our discovery,” Randy said, “and danger near some small tombs. What did she say…that the bone yard is haunted and that our find could change history? Ha!” He rocked back on his heels. “Sounds like a typical psychic reading.” He glared at her again. “Even your Egyptian looks spook me. Why don’t you crop that black hair of yours about ear length like the Egyptians used to—”
“If Chione’s appearance spooks you, Randy,” Kendra Laker said succinctly. “Maybe you need to scrutinize your own image.”
Chione became flustered, and wondered why they stood up for her. She could hold her own in her quiet way, but the rest of the group seemed too willing in their zeal to pounce on Randy. All during the planning stages of the expedition, envy among some of the lesser staff at the California Institute of Archaeology predicted the team would not hold together. It would not be due to anything as exciting as the diverse backgrounds of each in the field of archaeology, but due to the clash of personalities and ego opposites.
This story has many primary characters. The story is about archaeology and as such includes a team of archaeologists. You’ll see that when you read the page discussing all of The Ka characters.
Now Clifford Rawlings, Aaron Ashby, and Kendra Laker are introduced.
It’s important to introduce each character as they do something, or perform some action, or speak.
too, that you get another glimpse into what makes these characters
tick. I have a personal list of story writing tips. Some are
In this case, my tip is: No dumping. That simply means, you do not dump out all you know about a character in one all-inclusive paragraph. It simply isn’t done anymore. As the story evolves, so do the characters and what we are to learn about them.
This is yet another small but important aspect that should be worked out during plot development. As you introduce your characters, decide how much to reveal in one gulp, and how much to disclose later.
Notice the character Clifford is introduced with only one line. These people are throwing comments back and forth. Perhaps he only had time to get in a few words, which adds to the pace of the story. He will show up again.
Refer to this from above: The only way to get to know them as a team began here. Now. The writer can urge the reader into participating. Learning in a hurry what the reader needs to know to follow the story is to have one of the story characters in a hurry. Chione must learn… Now. Same for the reader.
“Excuse me, Mr. Osborne,” Aaron said. “Any learned archaeologist knows that in Egypt those small tombs are mastabas.”
“And what you so unprofessionally label the bone yard,” Clifford said, “is a necropolis.”
Eager anticipation as well as irritability hung heavy in the small conference room at the five-star Re-Harakhty Hotel in Cairo. Jet lag had gripped them all. In spite of air conditioning, the crowded conference room was stuffy. The moment for which all had waited was upon them. The small group of colleagues milled around impatiently waiting the arrival of Dr. Sterling Withers. Before the team made their way south along the Nile to the Valley of the Queens, he was to deliver one final briefing on this, the first advantageous opportunity to befall the Institute and that tempted to be the find of a lifetime.
Archaeologist Dr. Sterling Withers had inherited a fortune in croplands in the California Central Valley. Yet his interest had never been in what grew from the soil but what lie buried beneath it. He quickly leased out most of the land to crop farmers but retained the residential portion to manifest his lifelong dream of a privately held archaeological institute. The Institute’s monstrous old Victorian main building, with its attendant renovated and new smaller structures that comprised the facility, sat off the main road. Situated on a verdant patch of green acreage, the cluster of buildings was canopied and sheltered from the heat and dust by decades-old shade trees.
Perfectly timed, the Institute opened its doors with the New Millennium. Lathrop, California became a bigger dot on the map. After several years of hoping to find a new dig site, the Institute's exploration team auspiciously happened upon a tomb that had remained sealed for how long, no one yet knew with certainty.
In this section, we learn where the team finds themselves at present.
learn about Dr. Sterling Withers, lover of archaeology, and the person
responsible for the team being formed and for the trek to Egypt. A lot of plot development here.
Chione glanced out the window of the top floor hotel room and over the resort grounds, replete with monstrous swimming pools and lavish amenities. Though she detested commercialism, just being in Cairo, or anywhere in Egypt, made everything right. Still, she could not shed the luxury fast enough. Something had taken hold of her. She yearned to get to the dig site and down into that hole in the ground.
Off in the distance, clouds of sand blew on air currents. They reminded her that summer had lingered in the California Central Valley. The late fall season had not been the traditional mild Indian summer like many others. There was no escape. Everyone suffered.
Any place in the world would have offered reprieve from the antagonizing heat, but traveling to the Egyptian Desert was not where anyone would seek respite from the sizzle of the California Central Valley. Now that they had finally arrived in Egypt, having to wait to learn last minute details of their chance of a lifetime project fueled impatience and made tempers flare.
Chione’s flashback is the way we learn about the California location from where the team originated.
This is the only substantial paragraph that gives the reader a sense of home roots for these characters. Much more flashback keeps the reader in the past and that’s not what you want.
If the only reason for having a flashback is similar to mine, it's needed only once. Determine during the plot development where you will place such information. That bit of information should be given early on.
Aaron sighed. “You don’t get it, do you, Randy?”
“What’s to get?”
“That’s what makes Chione so gifted. She has no skeletons dancing in her closets.”
“You mean because everyone knows her secrets?”
Chione felt pangs of anger at being talked about. She harbored no illusions about the condition of her life. She glanced at Kendra with a wry smile. She had told them all about the fact that her reproductive organs were underdeveloped and that she would never bare children. She did not care who knew and because of that, in her mind, she felt free. One day, Randy would get his comeuppance for denigrating peoples’ personal shortcomings.
Now, she intended to let the scene play out, partly to get to know these people, and because Randy could make a fool of himself without any help from her. Randy’s inclusion in the project pulled at any emotional high the team might experience. Intolerance would be tempered by the work.
Tall, muscular Aaron passed a handkerchief over his forehead, then over the back of his neck as he paced at the rear of the room. Finally, he took a chair at the end of the conference table. Chione knew Aaron had to force himself to bite his tongue as he watched the mixture of amused grins and disapproving frowns exchanged among the others.
She discreetly watched Aaron vent anger as he slashed random crosshatch lines on a notepad.
This was not the first time Randy tried to trash another person’s reputation to enhance his own. He was trying to discredit her into losing her place on the team. Lacking a Ph.D. like the others had, Randy voiced disbelief at her being chosen to work on the most significant archaeological exploration in recent history.
“The fact that Chione’s so open about her private life,” Bebe Hutton said from across the room, “doesn’t give anyone permission to make a mockery of it.” Bebe’s habit was to remain quiet and observe, saying only enough to quell a situation or incite further interest when needed. She would hold her composure and watch the turning of events.
“You belittle her because she happens to outdistance you in practical intelligence,” Clifford Rawlings said as he stared at Randy with disgust.
When the mature and learned Egyptologist Dr. Rawlings spoke, everyone respected and listened, in spite of frequent lapses into the satirical. To look upon the man was to view a person approaching old age with a stately posture and whose clothes were always trendy and fresh. He had gray at his temples and a demeanor sculpted by time. Except when in one of his frequent comical moods. Then it was difficult at best to take him seriously. People said he turned over the management of his Napa Valley vineyard and winery to a management team because he did not need the bottle to enhance his humor. In reality, the winery was only a tax shelter.
“I agree,” Kendra said. The natural sparkle of her green eyes teased. “Chione does have a special sense of intuition.” All the wiry energy Kendra possessed resonated on every word she spoke, driving a point home.
“But—” Randy said.
“Leave it alone,” Clifford said.
Notice that Chione seems hesitant to respond to Randy’s disgusting behavior? Yes, she does control her responses well. You’ll get to know her as the story moves along. Passive-aggressive people have a way of quietly making things happen the way they wish.
In this section, we learn more about Aaron. Again, we see his actions through Chione’s POV.
Another character, Bebe Hutton, is introduced. We learn a bit about her through her actions and dialogue, witnessed through Chione’s eyes.
We also get a good dose of Clifford Rawlings' wit and how Chione knows him.
Randy stood supported with a hand on the back of a chair, flagging a leg back and forth as if his underwear might be caught in the wrong place. Then he lifted the leg a couple of times in a last ditch effort to end his discomfort. His personal habits were reason for a good snicker among the tight knit team, who could politely ridicule one another, then laugh. At times, criticism from any of them seemed in jest, a way this group of high-strung colleagues dealt with stress.
At other times, Randy’s behavior was repulsive. He seemed to take great comfort in eating all the time and, thanks to his mother packing his lunch, he always had an ample supply of food nearby to pick at. His continual weight gain and lack of personal hygiene turned people off. He always looked sweaty and wrinkled, with matted hair. No one relished the idea of sharing a tent with him in the heat of the desert. Finally, he reached behind himself and gave the seat of his pants a tug. Not the kind of professional posture one would expect from a Physical Anthropologist who worked with genetics and biochemistry.
Chione wished Randy would get the point that his taunting could not discredit her accomplishments. She tried to be exacting in anything she did and had no plans to change her ways. He probably found that intimidating.
Aaron glanced at her and smiled secretly at the comments tossed on her behalf. Chione was well aware that Aaron still loved her, yet contained his feelings, sometimes behind indifference, which she easily because she had always understood him. Aaron, too, hoped Randy would not be included in their upcoming expedition.
Kendra persisted. Her love of limelight would not allow her to turn her back on anything as attention grabbing as a paranormal prediction that had come true. “Chione’s dreams predicted this tomb would be found,” she said, “predicted that mournful sound would lead our exploratory team to it.”
“Similar to the singing Colossi of Memnon at Thebes,” Bebe said referring to the two north statues which some thought to be Amenhotep’s mother, Mutemuia, and Queen Tyi.
She had learned to rattle off the Egyptian names as easily as she spoke English. “Tyi’s statue was the one thought to emit the singing. Our tomb was discovered because of similar noises emitting from it.” Bebe was old fashioned and skeptical of the paranormal, even as she talked about the recent incontestable events. She would be eager to put her knowledge of Egyptian history to work. Her professionalism as an historian was reputed to be unequaled. She looked the part, serious and educated, but with a matronly figure. Her brown hair would erase years if lightened and styled otherwise. Yet, she was the epitome of today’s professionally groomed middle-aged businesswoman.
“You see?” Randy asked, seizing the moment and raising his voice. “Only a witch could prognosticate finding a hidden tomb.”
“Or someone with a sixth sense finely tuned to what she’s doing,” Aaron said, standing again.
“But to predict? Tell me, did she also forecast this tomb dating to the 18th Dynasty before those first relics were unearthed?”
“Does it really matter?” Clifford asked. “Fact is, Chione dreamed it all, from the mournful sounds to someone stumbling over a stone and falling into a hole.”
“A hole that led to the passageway of a tomb,” Aaron said. His smile was smug and showed he was thoroughly pleased about her extrasensory abilities. With Aaron partially in command, he would not let Randy’s personality throw the proverbial wrench into the mechanism every time he opened his mouth.
Chione was glad she had not told anyone but Aaron about the fact that she had caught strange flu-like symptoms a couple months back, about the time she began having those revealing dreams. She had thought that, perhaps, the dreams had had a deep psychological affect on her nervous system and hoped her queasy stomach and other symptoms would pass.
Luckily, Aaron was trustworthy and had not told anyone else. Her symptoms were gradually diminishing,. Had Randy learned about the lingering malaise, he would have seen to it that she was prevented from accompanying the team anywhere. Knowing that someone in the group understood her and how she received her extrasensory information was helpful too.
Chione discreetly glanced at Aaron, and then quickly looked away. She needed to hide the fact that she was still quite taken with him. The desire for some degree of intimacy with him had only recently returned. His promotion to becoming Dr. Withers’ understudy and second in command meant they would now work side by side. That was all she could allow. Somehow she knew that while working closely he would try to gain back what they shared and try to convince her to give him another chance. She had no idea how she might react.
He was a decent guy; the only one to comprehend what she was all about. Not only that, she had shown him, with a little more study and self-knowledge, he could develop his own unique abilities. The possibilities fascinated him.
As an adopted child, she endured an unfulfilled need to know who she was and clung to her adoptive mother and father. Their divorce left her devastated. Then came her second adoptive father, an Egyptian, whom she adored and whose name she took, but whose nurturing only made her more dependent.
Soon after she and Aaron met came the most disparaging news of all. How devastated she felt after learning she would never bear children. She interpreted it as an omen to share her life with no one and to find strength in being alone.
When she and Aaron parted, she made it clear that she could not cling to anyone any longer. Perhaps her consolation did come with solitude. After all, self-imposed seclusion was how she perfected her special mental gifts. No one truly understood those peculiar qualities and that cinched the concept of separatism in her mind.
The fact that Aaron had been open minded and made a gigantic effort to broaden his understanding of alternate realities offered hope. Especially since his own awareness had expanded with the experiences.
Yet, her decision was not to become dependent again. She believed it wise that his and her lives remain separate. He might fall in love with someone else and have the family he desired. However, the thought of him loving someone other than her created a confused sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Recently she had begun to yearn again for him and that was forcing her to confront her feelings. Clearly, Aaron seemed not about to give up on her, or on the development of his extrasensory abilities. She felt rushed to sort things out.
The first paragraph in this section describing Randy as he struggles with his under shorts caught in the wrong place is one of my favorite character sketches!!
I wrote this, first, as a separate character
sketch, trying to get a feel to make his demeanor even more repulsive. I
had a good idea of what Randy starts out to be. This sketch is almost exactly what I originally wrote.
This character sketch is one of my favorites of all that I’ve written. It is used as an example in one of my articles about writing such pieces.
Character sketches are just another in the stages of plot development. Without this sketch for Randy, he may not have grated on anyone's nerves. That’s how I wanted people to perceive him. At first.
Kendra’s personality unfolds a little at a time. She will not let go of anything that brings attention to her or the group. You can expect that she will have her nose into anything extraordinary.
More of Bebe’s abilities are revealed.
Notice, too, that when it’s said that Bebe has learned to speak Egyptian well, it’s another subtle prompt to tell the reader there will be lots of mention of ancient Egypt, the names and language, and that they should be forewarned. It’s like saying: Bebe learned it quickly. The readers need to as well.
Notice how I’ve developed the characters a little at a time. It’s through their actions and dialogue that the reader will know them. All that must be said or exposed about each character just can’t be set up in one long descriptive narrative the first time each appears.
Then a little more back-story appears as the team members discuss how it was that Chione had a dream that led to the discovery of a tomb.
Another little bit of back-story about Chione’s strange illness. This part of her back-story contributes to the way she sees Aaron now and why she needs to steer clear of him in the present. Bits of back-story can be used if ties to the immediate action in that part of the story.
The very last line in the paragraphs above leaves Chione in a rush to sort things out. Here, again, is a subliminal message to the reader that Chione will be sorting things out. The reader becomes caught up in wanting to know how she handles it.
Many times during plot development, I stopped writing in order to clarify different parts of the action. I had to find ways of saying what I wanted to say, and still keep the action moving.
“This whole paranormal thing baffles me,” Bebe said. “Can we run through it again to help me understand?”
Kendra eagerly picked up the momentum and described how Chione first had a dream about mournful sounds connected to a tomb in Egypt. Chione had not told Dr. Withers, but told his wife, who then related it to him. Dr. Withers thought nothing of it. About the same time, Clifford heard from a friend at the Madu Museum in Cairo relating that a grave robber looking for tombs to plunder heard something like whimpering near some mastabas.
“Coincidence,” Randy said, drumming his fingers against the back of a chair.
“Lucky for us,” Clifford said. “The grave robber claiming the necropolis was haunted scared people out of the area.”
“Gimme a break,” Randy said.
Clifford continued, saying the people from the Antiquities Society of Egypt thought something had shifted or been unearthed which caused the sounds to be made by the wind. His friend at Antiquities knew he was looking to organize some work in Egypt and suggested the Institute send an exploratory team. “Which we did,” Clifford said. “But I, myself, hadn’t heard about Chione’s dream. And I didn’t tell our illustrious leader about the mournful sounds, only about the possibility of a new dig site.”
Clifford helped himself to a drinking glass and bottle of water kept cool in a small tub on the credenza against the wall. He poured himself a drink but passed the water to Bebe holding out her hand. Chione produced her personal flask and poured herself a drink of Egyptian Karkade, a scarlet tea from the hibiscus flower, which could be drunk hot or cold.
Aaron explained that after Dr. Withers sent the exploratory team, Chione told him the second dream about a guy stumbling over a block and falling into a hole that would lead to finding a tomb. A few days later, Clifford heard that one of the men on the exploratory team stumbled over a block and fell into a hole. “When Dr. Withers was told about the guy falling—confirming Chione’s dream that none of us had heard,” Aaron said, “he and Ginny rushed here to Egypt to be with the exploratory team.”
“Ginny McLain got to see everything before any of us?” Randy asked.
“She’s our photographer, okay?” Clifford asked, smiling his most ridiculous grin as if sticking a pin into Randy’s inflated self-worth.
Bebe’s ignorance of the paranormal creates the reason for using back-story here. She needs things explained to her because she just doesn’t get it about Chione’s Sixth Sense. However, Bebe is amenable and willing to learn because she is in the midst of experiencing proof of Chione’s abilities.
Bebe having to learn means the reader will also get to understand a complicated concept.
All of these incidences are what create the story that keeps building. That's plot development!
Ginny McLain is introduced here. Remember, this is still the first chapter. In plot development for this entire novel, I had to get all the major players introduced into the first chapter. That’s because so many others people the story as well.
“I’m glad Dr. Withers was there when they discovered the entrance,” Kendra said. “He himself was down on knees in that hole scraping away rubble with his bare hands.”
Bebe listened intently. “As I understand it,” she said. “Chione knew none of the details happening at the site, or even about an exploratory team being sent.”
Randy sighed pathetically and looked out a window. “We’d have found the tomb without Chione’s dreams,” he said. “If she’s such a great seer, why does she need any of us?”
Again, Chione only rolled her eyes at the others and caught a glimpse of Aaron hurting for her. Someone would surely comment so she decided to withhold and simply watch the fireworks.
“If Chione’s senses are so keenly honed that she dreams what we’re about,” Kendra said. “It’s we who need her.”
“She’s obsessed with things Egyptian,” Randy said, flagging a hand as if he could not be bothered. “She kept her lunch under that shiny black diorite pyramid on the credenza in her office instead of in the fridge like the rest of us.”
“If I remember correctly,” Clifford said. “You used to store your lunch with hers when she first interned with you.”
Randy smiled sheepishly. “It was novel.”
“Sure it was,” Kendra said. “But you always claimed the mayonnaise in your sandwich never melted and that your salad stayed crisp.”
“The salad wasn’t cold, though,” Randy said.
“I wouldn’t take pyramid power lightly,” Bebe said, surprising everyone. “Truth is, weren’t all our knife edges keenly honed when Chione brought in her glass pyramid and demonstrated its effect?”
“That convinced me,” Clifford said. Good hearted Clifford would give anyone the benefit of the doubt.
“Aaron changed when he met you," Randy said, turning and finally addressing her directly.“And the party for Rita. Were you trying to cast spells with that birthday party you threw for Clifford’s wife? Even your tiny place is cluttered Egyptian.”
“I’m Egyptian,” Chione said.
“Egypt appeals to her, Randy,” Kendra said quickly. “She grew up with Egyptian history and culture—”
“Because her mother loved Egypt and gave her an Egyptian name that means ‘Daughter of the Nile’?” Randy asked. “How is it that American woman adopts an American child who grows up looking like Nefertiti’s sister? Chione even uses her stepfather’s name.”
“Chione Grant Ini-Herit,” Bebe said, enunciating. “She’s never given up her first father’s name.”
More of the plot development is built through action and dialogue.
So, too, are the character personalities deepened.
Here, we’re beginning to have a good feeling of which characters we love and which we love to hate.
By now, Kendra and Bebe had moved to stand beside her, opposite Randy on the other side of the conference table. She was beginning to feel claustrophobic. Randy was getting out of hand. She did not need anyone standing up for her and would have to do something about him and soon.
“At least she claims her roots,” Kendra said, pointedly reminding Randy how he openly blamed his shortcomings on a domineering mother.
“Chione wishes she were Egyptian,” Randy said. “Heaven knows if she could have a baby, it would probably look like that heretic Akhenaten.”
“Wrong again, Randolph,” Aaron said. “Chione’s too beautiful. The child would probably more resemble Nefertiti or even King Tut. Certainly not your mentor.”
“That’s right,” Randy quipped. “It’s been said you resemble the Boy King.”
Aaron lunged, clutched Randy’s shirtfront and drew back a fist.
Clifford grabbed Aaron’s wrist. “Enough!” he said as he stepped in between. “Here comes Sterling."
By this point in the story, tempers are getting out of hand. These people are stuck in a stuffy conference room. They’re uncomfortable. Personalities don’t always jibe. They are bound to get on each others nerves.
Their frustration is a great set-up for finishing the first chapter.
But it’s not enough that Aaron almost punches Randy’s lights out. Considering that we already know that Chione cannot bear children, what is said during the conversational exchange at the end of the chapter is foreshadowing.
I hope that you have picked up quite a few story writing tips.
Some lingering thoughts:
Be aware that in moving through plot development, foreshadowing doesn’t end in the first chapter. In The Ka, foreshadowing runs through every chapter.
For example, Randy’s disgusting demeanor is foreshadowing. The reader will wonder if he will ever get his act together. And when? It can happen anywhere through the story line. He can take a whole book to get his act together.
In the case of the first few chapters of The Ka, foreshadowing is all over the place.
Moving through the stages of plot development for this story was, at times, an arduous task. I had no idea how big the story would be. I just kept writing and developing.
People say the story will write itself. Believe me, this one did.
You can also use books for story writing tips. I have several favorites and refer to those during different plot development.
I hope you will check out the character list from the book that I have posted.
The various stages of plot development are fun and pulled together by sensible story writing tips. I hope analyzing this chapter of a book relating to archaeology and Ancient Egypt has helped.
My plot development for The Ka went something like this:
I had a sense of what the story was about and how it should end. The middle was still a mystery.
Only because I knew the end of the story could I go on with the rest of the stages of plot development.
When I knew how they might interact, I assigned each character’s career field in archaeology.
Next was to determine the setting, which would be in Valley of the Queens, since I could alter the landscape a bit.
I made a rough outline of the action I wanted to see happening. This also gave me a solid sense of plot development.
Having the outline completed meant I could now flesh out the scenes and fill in the story between them.
Much time was spent going through my story writing tips and making sure all the facts were correct. The threads of fantasy needed to be woven in as seamlessly as possible.
When the first draft was finished, I laid it aside for a couple of weeks, after which I returned to the manuscript for editing.
Because editing takes much more time than the actual writing of the first draft, I always referred to my outline, plot development, and my story writing tips.
Reviews are yet another in the stages of plot development.
When you feel your manuscript is polished, get a few people to read it and get some reviews.
Hint: Do not have family members read your story. They won’t tell you the story’s faults for fear of hurting your feelings.
Seek out stone-cold, honest friends, even strangers, like English teachers, other good writers, and so forth.
Thank you so much for reading all the way to the bottom of this page.
I hope you enjoyed reading this first chapter of The Ka.
The Ka Media Room (with Photos)