EPQ – Plot Planning and Supervisor Feedback

Today, as planned, I met up with my supervisor again to discuss the progress that I have made on my project since this time last week. Whilst my active blog audience prevents me from going into too much detail to avoid spoilers, I can reveal that my progress is looking promising and I am keeping a steady pace as I move towards the writing stage of my schedule.


The first major piece of work that I have produced this week is my risk assessment, which I have already talked through in a previous blog (view here). This was a fundamental part of my planning, proving my ability to solve problems even at this early stage of my project. Being the main target from my previous discussion with my supervisor, completing this has enabled me to move forward onto the planning and production stages without concern.


I spent the past weekend (plus an additional evening or two) creating a more detailed world for my novel to be set in, a narrative element which was highlighted as being particularly important by numerous survey participants. I initially began to plan out the novel’s backstory, from which I have come up with the following points:

  • The novel will be set in North America, post-Civil War; this war saw the collapse of the “United States” as we know them. From this, the “New Congress” is born, for which a new president must be elected. The novel will open at the President-elect’s Inauguration Ceremony, giving the novel the title “Inauguration Day” (or simply “Inauguration” depending on what feels right by the time I reach marketing).
  • North America, even before the aforementioned Civil War, has seen a huge collapse in equality. The former President-turned-dictator of the USA withdrew all previously-signed orders, taking away the rights of all “minorities” and creating a deeply white-male-chauvinist society.
    • “Minorities”, i.e. anyone who is not a white, heterosexual, American-born man, is no longer entitled to Congressional citizenship. The only exceptions to this are women whose male guardians apply for them to receive citizenship; this application is expensive and fairly rare. Women who are put forward for citizenship are tested rigorously – they must achieve a certain score to qualify, and women who do qualify must pay a certain amount of money depending on how they scored (i.e. the higher they score, the lower the cost). After their fee is processed, they are presented with a Citizen’s Badge and ID, both of which must be carried at all times. They are also expected to shave their heads to rid themselves of their distracting femininity.
    • Those without citizenship live in violent, heavily-segregated slums on the outskirts of the city, in a permanent state of war fueled by  propaganda issued by the government (who benefit greatly from the inter-community anger).
    • The Civil War (including the one that continues to rage between minority groups) was caused when a massacre at the Chihuahuan Diversity Festival (hosting over a million people) turned out to be planned by the US President, who saw the growing defiance of conformity as a threat to his power. After the war – which the privileged community naturally blamed on the minorities – ceased, the government chose to use propaganda to brainwash the minorities into believing that each other were to blame for the deaths of their loved ones.


After developing the backstory for my world, I began looking into the Zodiac system and applying that to the individual communities within the slums. I linked this to the idea (or rather my personal opinion) that horoscopes are modern propaganda, tying in the Barnum Effect for which I studied an article written by Adrian Furnham Ph.D. After looking into this in detail, I was able to plan the structure of my novel’s plot. At first I chose to list the plot points in painstaking detail; this caused a problem because the narrative it resulted in was vastly predictable, dull, and most likely accidentally plagiarised due to its unoriginal nature. To solve this issue I chose to start from scratch and create a plot skeleton, listing only the most vital plot points which I will fill in during production. For this I used Todorov’s Narrative Structure, a concept I have understood since learning it for my GCSE Media Studies exam. With my knowledge of the subject, I knew a simple cyclic structure would be necessary in order to keep my readers focused on the action, rather than forcing them to struggle to understand the structure of the book.


As a side note, I also made the decision to write my novel in the point of view of the President’s Daughter as opposed to the actual protagonist. This will not only position the audience in a way that is unique to most books I have read, but will also be heavily symbolic of the way in which the government have constant surveillance on the public. Hopefully this will create a layer of discomfort, relating to the fear of being watched which was a common theme in my survey.


Now that my novel’s world is developing naturally, the only stage that I need to complete before starting to write is my character development. I have set myself a target to have the majority of this completed before the end of next week, after which I will be ready to write. I discussed all of this with my supervisor, who seemed happy that I am making good, efficient progress and will be ready to write after my character profiling is completed to an appropriate level. Once again, however, she seemed concerned that I was setting myself too much work; in response to this, I have made a list of the necessities in my project with the intention to stick to it without giving myself any more unnecessary work to complete during my already limited time.


To-Do List:

  1.  Character development, especially for:
    • Protagonist
    • President’s Daughter
    • President
  2. Writing the novel
  3. Editing the novel
  4. Book cover
  5. Marketing posters – these will be reliant on a strongly developed presidential campaign, which I will create during my development of the President’s character
  6. Video-based book trailer, in which I will use the marketing posters as propaganda within the story itself

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