Creating a Situation From Scratch (Crashcourse, Day 3)

Welcome to Day 3 of Crashcourse!

Hmm … I really need to start smiling soon!
Here I am, walking and deep in thought!

So, I’ve decided to build Crashcourse out of thin air, trailblazing a path through my imagination without an outline or plan. I’m going to do this by creating a situation, sticking characters into the thick of it, and watching as they try to work their way to freedom, success, happiness, whatever.

Making Something Out of Nothing …

Here I sit, trying to think of a high-concept idea. Something that will really knock your socks off. And … I’ve got nothing. I was really hoping my subconscious would bail me out here, but no such luck. So, let’s see if we can come up with an interesting, unique situation in some other manner. Walking around tends to stir my creative juices, so I’ll give that a try. Back in a moment!

Okay, I’m back. While I was out, I got to thinking about school. Modern schooling is a peculiar institution, isn’t it? We’ve got time blocks, separated by bells. Everyone is grouped together by age. Cramming is a time-honored way to pass a class, before forgetting everything you “learned.” Pep rallies prepare you for “war” with the school across town. The choosing of prom king and queen is considered a very big deal. I could go on and on. But I think I’ve made my point. School is indeed strange. So, we’ll use a school as our setting for Crashcourse. And since this is a young adult fantasy novel, we’ll make it a famous magic school, hidden from the outside world. I know what you’re thinking. BORING. Good lord, a magic school? Hasn’t that been done to death already? Yup. But don’t despair. We’re not finished yet.

Hmm … what kind of headmaster and faculty would you expect to preside over this school? Great wizards and witches, right? Right! Magicians capable of, well, just about anything. Now, imagine a villain arriving at the front door, ready to attack this venerable institution. The headmaster and faculty go out to face him or her and …

… get crushed. Pulverized. Utterly humiliated. And all in front of the student body.

Were you expecting that? Maybe. Regardless, let’s say the headmaster and faculty aren’t as great as everyone thought. But why? It might have something to do with the school itself and how it chooses to teach magic. It doesn’t really matter right now. What matters is that they’re easily outmatched and the school falls under the villain’s control. So, this is a story of occupation.

You know, I was going to stop with a situation. But let’s see if we can take this a little further and come up with a basic premise. How? Well, we need a hero to face down this threat. What kind of hero? The best student in school? A “chosen one?” Hmm … let’s go in the opposite direction. Let’s make our hero the worst student imaginable. In fact, let’s make him or her … a dropout! Oh boy, I like that angle a lot. You know, some of our most renowned thinkers, inventors, and artists are/were dropouts. Why is that anyway? I’m not sure, but it’ll be fun to explore some possible reasons in Crashcourse.

At some point, we’ll need to figure out why the dropout would be motivated to help the school. But that can wait. For now, let’s sum up our premise.

Crashcourse Premise: After the world’s foremost magic school falls to a ruthless villain, a dropout must discover his inner magic in order to save the institution that once scorned him.

Obviously, that’s pretty bare bones. But I think it’s got a ton of potential.

So, we’ve got a premise. Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at our main character, the dropout. See you then!

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