Using Murphy’s Law to Plot a NaNoWriMo Novel

NaNoWriMo 2012

I’m starting to hash out the plot of Paper Wolves and am using the time-honored technique of ‘What’s The Worst That Can Happen?’ or ‘Apply Murphy’s Law to Plots.’

Murphy’s Law boils down to the claim that: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.

Using it for plotting consists of taking a starting situation, then thinking of the worst thing that could happen (within reason), then thinking of a solution, then the worst thing that could happen, then thinking of a solution… ad nauseum.

It’s a lot of fun, although sometimes I have to stop and backtrack since I ‘WTWTCH’ myself into a corner. I also have to sit down once I get the initial brainstorming done (it ran about 2k this year) and figure out how many of the ‘bad things’ still need to be resolved. :p

I sat down and did this on Saturday, which after some additional review, left me with the mess you see below. I’m going to put each plot point and plot resolution on an index card (with matching colors). Once I put them in roughly in chronological order, it will be easier to see how it goes together and what is still unresolved.

Since Tales of the Southside Dumppack is an ongoing universe/story I can leave some things unresolved, but I’d like to at least get poor Meg back to some semblance of normality. *shuffles cards around*

MASSIVE Spoilers Ahead!

(NOTE: This is just the first brainstorming session, the plot will change and evolve as October goes on, but this is what I started with. Well, after the whole ‘blank page’ stage at least. 😉 )

Meg has been put in charge of a pack of werewolves that don’t really want to be werewolves. She has no experience being in charge and has no idea how a pack is really supposed to work (none of them do). She has to fix the mess left by the last Alpha (who was murdered) before the Council decides that she’s not fit to lead.

The Council has assigned people to help.

The wolves who have been assigned to help her learn are from the Northern pack, who hates the Southern pack. They are rude and put out only the minimum effort required to meet the Council’s command. Unless she asks them a direct question they will skip over information in the hopes that she’ll get caught by the details.

The local law enforcement gets suspicious of them and starts sniffing around for hints of gang behavior. A few of the wolves panic and pack up and leave town, which only makes them more suspicious. Meg manages to convince the police that nothing is going on, but they are still wary of them.

The bookstore finally closes and Meg is out of a job. Her human coworkers are all job hunting and are trying to be helpful and get Meg a new job as well. Only she doesn’t have time to spare and she really doesn’t need the money– which she can’t explain to them. So she does her best to avoid them, but that only makes them worry she is in real trouble, doubly so when they realize the cops are staking out her house.

The Council contacts her to let her know they will be sending her an additional nine wolves. They are the remnants of a pack where the Alpha had been abusing his pack members and was killed when eventually when they turned on him. Meg has no place to put them and the cops are still watching her house.

The new wolves aren’t the only ones needing new identities, three of her own pack are now too old for their appearances and need new lives created for them. The Northern pack is still giving her as little information as possible and she’s under too much scrutiny from the cops to take the risk– so she calls Christopher for help.

Christopher arrives and helps get the balls back in the air, it looks like things are finally starting to go right again.

And then over dinner Meg looses her kinship oaths and is just a normal human again.

Her second in command steps in to take over the pack as there is much flailing. After lots of phone calls it turns out that the bloodline that her father’s pack had sworn into had disowned them lock stock and barrel. This can only be done by one of the original Baron’s sons so something is massively wrong.

Christopher is called back by the Council, Meg tries to decide if she really wants to be a werewolf again– her terminal illness has been wiped away by the decades she’s spent as a wolf. She could just go back to living a normal life, which is what she thought she always wanted.

Theo went out for a run and was picked up by animal control. Since she’s a wolf she can’t be adopted out and the pound is about to put her down– only one of Meg’s old coworker’s recognizes her as the weird dog that Meg owns and calls her.

Meg goes to get her, but the car breaks down. It looks like sabotage and as they are trying to find another way to the pound they get a call from her coworker letting her know that Meg’s friend got there, paid the fine, and took the dog. Only Meg has no clue who it was, the description is anyone she recognizes.

Christopher and the Council are busy, the Northern Alpha might be the one who did the kidnapping– so she has no one to go to for help.

Only it turns out Theo’s not an accidental werewolf. Her bloodline has been letting her play pretend for a while because she’s really not a wolf they want to have around, but Susan and the second in command fill her in on who Theo really is and just how powerful the person had to have been to be able to control her.

They need to rescue Theo, but Meg’s really in no condition to help. She can’t take a kinship oath from anyone in her pack or she’ll be automatically subservient to them and wouldn’t be able to stay Alpha. At which point Susan takes her aside and points out that her grandfather would be willing to give the oath to her if she wants.

And her grandfather is Baron’s third son. ZOMG!

That would mean Meg would suddenly outrank everyone, including the Northern alpha and most of the council. It would also make her directly beholden to the son and she’d be required to follow any ‘request’ he had of her. There’s no reason she can think of that he’d want direct control of the dump pack, so there’s something going on.

She can’t think of a better idea, so she agrees at which point Susan calls her grandfather and he agrees to come down and administer the oath as long as Meg is the person Susan says she is. No pressure there. Only with one of the Baron’s sons coming to town that means everyone who ever wanted to kill him is probably also on the way.

Theo is a sixth rank wolf, Susan is four, Meg will be three, all the rest are in the double-digits. Susan came to the pack because she wanted to get away and Theo came to the pack because she wanted to fit in.

Meg had been a double-digit wolf herself before, so this is a massive jump in status. Susan has to explain just what that means and then Meg isn’t sure she wants to do this anymore– only there’s no one coming to save Theo if she doesn’t.

The Baron’s son shows up at the house, the cops show up moments later. Turns out the Baron is highly wanted, which isn’t too much of a surprise because he’s a pretty evil dude although he’s mellowed over the years.

But he’s not himself, at least he’s got the background to prove he’s not and the cops are confused, but let them go. Meg was positive he was going to kill all of them and was panicking, but now she’s just as confused.

The son is amused and fond of the fact that she was willing to try and keep both sides safe even though she wasn’t immortal anymore.

So he grants her kinship and she takes it and WOW that’s a difference. The curse dilutes over the generations and there’s a lot more power here than she’s expected.

And she’s looking at Susan with a whole new light because she’s way more powerful than she ever let on.

And Susan is amused.

They go after Theo, only they don’t know where Theo is so they take Susan as a wolf and they head out to the pound to track the scent.

The Baron’s son comes with them because this is more fun than he’s had in a while.

The cops come too, although at a distance.

They pick up the trail, then they pickup the scent of the kidnapper, because there’s a unique scent of it and they know who owns it.

It’s Meg’s now-human father.

Meg calls his cellphone and gets him and he tells them where to come to and that they can have Theo back as soon as their kinship oaths are reinstated. Problem is that what the first son disinherited them for is bad enough that no one else will want them.

There is some talk, they don’t know who Susan is so they must have expected her to call Theo’s bloodline for help. Only they have someone much more powerful in the car. The Baron’s son asks if she thinks her father’s pack deserves to be werewolves.

She doesn’t.

So they are trying to think of a werewolf way to solve the problem– the son can’t simply command them to surrender because they aren’t werewolves. Rescuing her directly isn’t a good choice since they’ll be expecting an attack and might kill Theo if they think they are going to die. Plus even if they do get them their kinship oaths back there’s a chance they’ll just turn on them.

They can’t just go in and slaughter them (which seems to be the only option) because the cops are watching.

So they call the cops over to rescue her instead.

Actually they really only have to stop the car and wait for the cops to pull up beside them. There’s a short discussion on what’s going on, where the other people are, the dog that they are holding ransom, and the best bit is that the people who were nasty werewolves were nasty people too– so the cops are more than happy to arrest them– although they are still positive that the Baron’s son is who they think he is, even if they can’t prove it.

The cops show up, there is a bit of a shootout, they arrest everyone, Theo is returned. The other wolves recognize Meg and get mad and then they recognize the Baron’s son and get scared.

Her dad says he’s sorry. She tells him he used to be a good man, but all he’s now is a bad werewolf.

The cops take everyone away, Meg and her gang head home.

The next day when the Northern pack’s helper shows up she tries out her new tricks and commands him to actually /help/ her– and it works.

And life goes on.

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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