This is an exercise in WORLDBUILDING.
This exercise takes off from my blog post
followed by my blog post
The theory is to select the story you want to tell, then wrap the world around it. Create the background and backstory to support what you want your story to say.
What your story says is your theme.
Take the following opening scene, use Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet (which works for novels as well as for films) and create the rest of this plot in single line, half-sentence, or even single word entries in the beat sheet.
http://www.blakesnyder.com/tools/ is where to download the beat sheet. It's currently item #2 in the list there. There is an example of a famous movie fitted into this beat sheet lower down that page.
Write a couple of paragraphs sketching the Worldbuilding around the plot.
For example: if your beat sheet calls for Trish, the lead female, to die and return as a ghost to haunt the guy who killed her, your worldbuilding notes would say that ghosts are real and can communicate with the living, maybe give rules for how a ghost could affect the solid world.
Post the result as a comment here on this blog.
---------Story Opening ------------
by Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Permissions: Use Freely to do this Worldbuilding exercise
Trish clenched her fists which were tied behind her and kicked hard with her legs tied at the ankle and knee. Her face inched closer to the open lock of her car's trunk. Her nose entered a shaft of sunlight.
She squinted up at her captor who smirked down at her. When her captor's attention flicked aside, she spat her chewing gum into the lock and prayed.
Back turned, her captor slammed the trunk lid which caught with an odd thwunk sound.
She lay in the pitch dark, smelling every pizza she'd ever carried in the trunk of her 1962 Cadillac and blessed the writers of the TV Series Forever Knight. Finally, she heard the crunch of gravel under booted feet, then silence.
She calmed herself then summoned a sparkle of power to her fingertips. She twisted her fingers until she had a bit of rope between them. With a tiny, delicate push, she burned the rope, scorched her flesh, burned some more and severed the rope.
Nearby, a truck engine turned over with a ragged cough. The truck gunned onto the highway and dopplered away. Silence. Not even one passing car.
With a heave and a squirm, Trish freed her hands, burned through the ropes at her knees and ankles then levered her back up against the trunk lid. She bounced the Caddy on its shocks to free the latch. She thought she'd suffocate before it gave, made a mental note to get the interior catch release changed, and finally, the lid swung up trailing a long strand of gum.
She ashed the gum with a flash of power, slammed the lid and strode the length of the car, one hand trailing the upswept fin. Local urban legend had it this car had two hundred fifty ghosts under the hood and vampire blood in the tank. It was a whole lot more than that.
HINTS: Answer the questions raised as you read this opening.
a) who is Trish?
b) who tied her up?
c) who put her in the trunk of her car?
d) why was she left beside a deserted road instead of killing her?
e) how did she come to drive a 1962 Caddy - and is it REALLY just a classic Caddy?
f) does she do "magic" or is her fire just ESP? Is there a demon or familiar involved?
g) does the Caddy conceal an A.I.?
h) is Trish actually human? Or an alien from outer space? Alternate Universe? Elf?
i) was that actually chewing gum?
j) if she has such "powers" -- how and why did she let herself be captured and tied up?
k) was there an accomplice lurking behind her captor? Had they captured someone else when they captured her? Was it the someone else who was being kidnapped?
l) what will Trish do about the guy who tied her up?
m) what is her internal conflict? Her external conflict? Is her captor really her enemy or a double agent she didn't want to uncover?
n) what is her objective? Will she succeed?
o) maybe change the title to fit your theme
Note how this and many more questions are carefully NOT answered but only raised by this opening. This is a demonstration of the technique I have discussed on the Alien Romance blog which I call Information Feed. First make the reader curious; then provide answers dispersed amid the action.
Yes, you may rewrite this opening for this exercise. But you'll learn more by doing the exercise based on this opening. What is not-included in this opening is easily as important as what is included. The lack of certain information is as important as the presence of what is there.
Playing with this exercise will sharpen your ability to create this kind of open textured springboard for a story with a complex backstory and background.
You may post your "beats" of the plot and your Worldbuilding paragraphs in the comments section of this blog where others may comment or post other visions of what this story could become.
You may do one version of this story as SCIENCE FICTION and another as FANTASY and/or another as PARANORMAL ROMANCE -- or even SCIENCE FICTION ROMANCE.
See how the same story can scroll out against the different backgrounds and end up qualifying in another genre.
You may decide to do this exercise and not post the results here but instead use it in your own novel.
After you finish the exercise, take a universe that you know well and have fleshed out in detail and write a story opening patterned on this one -- designed to spark questions in the reader's mind by not-saying many of the most important things about your universe.