Session 01: Kick Off

Session 02: Planning the Project

Hi there! Welcome to the first session of the “Copperwealth Elements” project where I’m drafting the elements and beats required for the entire Copperwealth series. I’ve been doing work with this off and on over the past year but recent events have increased this as a priority.


I’ve been working on a “clash of the super villains” storyline within the “epic adventure” genre set in a “post-steampunk” / “crystalpunk” backdrop. Progress has been touch-and-go. Originally slated to be a graphic novel, it has since pivoted to be a podcast but now I’m focused purely on writing it to completion then I’ll figure out the best medium for presentation.

The plan has always been to design a three act structure – each act containing four volumes. The first three volumes each focus on separate subplots and the fourth chapter pulls them all together into a single plot. Each volume has six chapters. There are also the prologue and epilogue chapters.

For years now I’ve had the first act outlined and the first volume half drafted but little else. Just recently I’ve started to rework the whole story from the ground up. Specifically, I’ve been plotting out the “beat sheet” – an outline of all the moments (or beats) that are needed for the plot and character arcs to tell a gripping story. In addition, I’ve been drafting the support elements as well – bios and what not of characters, objects, locations, etc.

And that’s where I’m at right now – trying to finish these elements. This is the official kick off for the project.

Exploration Phase

I’m planning this project using currently unfinished project planning documentation. I’m not overly concerned about it. The project management guide will never be truly finished as it will go through countless revisions as time moves on. I’ll use the latest version available as I move forward with this project.

Identifying Project Needs

I need to plot out this epic 74 chapter book which contains dozens of characters and subplots. I want the plots and characters to feel natural. Orchestrating all of this will be fairly difficult to do sequentially, page-by-page – especially for someone with my type of brain. The solution needs to be in one place, easy to parse, and comprehensive.

I’ll now conduct the project needs analysis:

  1. Need to plot out 74 chapters
    1. Why do you need to plot out all 74 chapters?
      1. By plotting the whole saga, I will know which characters and subplots need to be fleshed out in earlier chapters
        1. Why do you need to know which characters should be fleshed out in earlier chapters?
          1. Because otherwise, I’ve found that I randomly start adding characters with varying degrees of background or buildup who do not serve the story.
            1. Why do characters or their backgrounds need to serve the story?
              1. Because when characters or their backgrounds deviate from the story, the story feels disjointed.
                1. Why does it matter if the story feels disjointed?
                  1. According to Cryptiquest’s Value statement A.2. “Content must be unique and consistent to the world it creates.” (STOP: Value Statement)
        2. Why do you need to know which subplots need to be fleshed out in earlier chapters?
          1. It will help build a foundation and buy-in with the audience.
            1. Why does it matter to get audience buy-in?
              1. According to Cryptiquest’s Value statement A.3. “Content must be entertaining, professional, and understandable.” (STOP: Value Statement)
          2. Knowing the subplots that should be fleshed out will mitigate unnecessary rewrites that would be required if they weren’t known ahead of time. (STOP: Process improvement measure)
  2. Need to orchestrate dozens of characters
    1. What do you mean by orchestrating dozens of characters?
      1. Some characters will have story arcs that need to be designed and some won’t.
        1. Why will some characters need arcs and others won’t?
          1. Those who won’t are characters who exist with in the narrative but have arcs outside the frame of the story.
            1. Why are their arcs outside the frame of the story?
              1. Because some characters exist as a snapshot within the story. They are part of the crowd, outside the scope. (STOP: Boundary discovered)
            2. Why aren’t their arcs important to work out?
              1. They have lives and adventures but those are not part of this story. They are part of the crowd, outside the scope. (STOP: Repetition)
  3. Need to orchestrate dozens of subplots
    1. Why do you need to orchestrate dozens of subplots?
      1. The subplots will collide into one singular plot so they need to both feel independent and have impact.
        1. Why do the subplots need to feel independent?
          1. Because the plots need to feel natural. (STOP: see 4.0)
        2. What do you mean by the subplots need to have impact?
          1. They need to be presented with enough foundation to provide audience buy-in. (STOP: Repeats 1.1.2)
  4. Need plots to feel natural
    1. Why do plots need to feel natural?
      1. According to Cryptiquest’s Value statement A.2. “Content must be unique and consistent to the world it creates.” (STOP: Value Statement)
  5. Need characters to feel natural
    1. Why do characters need to feel natural?
      1. According to Cryptiquest’s Value statement A.2. “Content must be unique and consistent to the world it creates.” (STOP: Value Statement)
  6. Need to be in one place
    1. What needs to be in one place?
      1. The elements and beats for the story.
        1. What is a “beat?”
          1. A beat is a plot point that serves one or more of the following arc types:
            • Story arc
            • Character arc
            • Chapter arc
        2. What is an “element”?
          1. An element is a data entity that is unique within the story and is assigned to one category (list may not be comprehensive):
            • Character
            • Setting
            • Scientific Fact
            • Cultural Component
            • Artifact
            • Organization
        3. Are there things that are important that aren’t beats or elements?
          1. All other points that aren’t elements or beats will be considered “notes”.
  7. Need to be easy to parse
    1. What do you mean by “easy to parse?”
      1. It should take only a few steps to generate, modify, and sort the beats and elements. (STOP: See 6.1.1.)
  8. Need to be comprehensive
    1. What do you mean by comprehensive?
      1. The solution will be able to contain all the beats and elements for the story. (STOP: See 6.1.1.)

Needs Identified:

  1. Content must strive for representation while avoiding tokenism, stereotyping, and cultural appropriation.
  2. Content must be unique and consistent to the world it creates.
  3. Content must be entertaining, professional, and understandable.
  4. Show the draft process using Cryptiquest tools (when applicable)
  5. Need to plot out the story, including every chapter and character arc.
  6. Characters will be identified as “inside” or “outside” the frame of the story (to determine how developed their arc needs to be).
  7. The tool will store beats, elements, and notes in one place.
    1. Beats are plot points that serve the story, chapter, or character arcs.
    2. Elements are unique data points that may be either a character, setting, scientific fact, cultural component, artifact, or organization.
  8. It will take a few steps to create, modify, or sort data within the tool.
  9. The tool needs to be able to contain all the beats and elements for the story.

Fabricating the Ideal Solution

The needs revolve around two different things: the content of the story and the structure used to store and sort the story components. The ultimate goal of this project is to generate the comprehensive collection of beats and elements for the story.

The ideal solution is an interactive outline – one that can be filtered and sorted by element and story structure. All content is cross-linked creating a seamless search experience with tools to edit on the fly.

Identifying the Target Audience

At first the project seems very specific to one person – me. But there are a couple components here so perhaps I should explore who is impacted by all facets.

  • The final beat / element list is purely for me in the role of author.
  • Whatever tool is used to display and sort the data might be useful for others but making it so is outside the scope of this project – this goes for content generation, content display, etc.
  • The content itself has factors that might determine a particular audience.
    1. The nature of the content is mature.
    2. The content involves violence.
    3. The level of intrigue is heavy without being cryptic.
    4. The underlying themes are fairly simple.
    5. The characters are composed of identities that typically lack representation – especially in the “supers” genre.

Based on items 1 and 2, the target audience should be mature but that can’t be a crutch. The media still needs to be “responsible” per Cryptiquest values. Based on items 3 and 4, the audience doesn’t need to be entirely sophisticated though with the addition of item 5, may have progressive and/or leftwing leanings.

The story will be written in English so that’s a limitation – though it’s temporary. Translations can always be made in the future.

So we’re looking at a morally mature audience who has leftist leanings.

This target audience is broad. Other than language, I can’t think of limitations they may have especially since this is a story.

Exploring the Scope

There are two scopes to consider: the product and the project. The product will be the final beat sheet and stack of element cards. The format for the product will be an interactive outline which will be stored on the Copperwealth website.

Regarding breadth, the goal of this project is to conduct the research required before writing the story. The amount of research required may be more than what will be used. That’s okay. For instance, in order to better understand a character like Morris, it may be crucial to write out his history – even if it never comes up in the actual narrative. So regarding breadth – there is no cap.

In regards to subject matter expertise, there may be many topics that come up which require reaching out to experts and will have to be handled ad hoc.

On the topic of usability, the product is not directly intended for public consumption and therefore the interactive outline only needs to be usable for me. Having said that, the product should be filterable by element.

There are no hard time constraints on the project. It will take as long as it takes. There are no direct expenses though there are indirect expenses for web hosting but it’s nominal.

Regarding resources, there are no materials but there are people:

  1. Direct Stakeholders: me, Cryptiquest, the audience
  2. Indirect Stakeholders: editors, reviewers, “helpers”
  3. Invisible Stakeholders: supporters, family, friends

Product Scope

  • Format: Interactive outline
  • Repository: Displayed on Copperwealth website
  • Breadth: The outline itself is composed of bullets but the elements and notes may be as drawn out as needed.
  • Subject Matter Expert: Subject matter experts will be sought out as needed.
  • Target Audience: Morally mature audience who has leftist leanings.
  • Usability: The final outline will be filterable by element.

Project Scope

  • Time: There is neither a deadline nor an hour cap.
  • Costs: There are no direct costs and the indirect costs, which consist of the webhosting costs for the cryptiquest websites, are nominal.
  • Resources: There are no materials and aside from the company, the people impacted by this project are the eventual audience, those who will review, edit, and directly support the evolution of the story; and, those who “cheerlead” the project due to familial or similar relationship.

I believe this concludes the exploration phase. In the next session, I will plan the project. This will include defining the goal, listing out the objectives, creating the task list, and creating a dossier to log all the project management materials. I’m not sure how long this will take but the project is one step closer now that it’s officially been kicked off.

See you in the next session!

Session 02: Planning the Project