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  • Writer's pictureTerry L. Craig

Setting the Scene for Chapters

Updated: Mar 20, 2018

#HowToStart, #JustStart, #Attention

To say that I have enjoyed inventing an entire world with its own history and people with quirks, traditions, and personalities would be an understatement. And yet this whole fictional world (years of pondering the details) is just a backdrop for some of the truths I hope to explore in my Scions of the Aegean C series. All the pieces need to work together to reflect those truths.

I must keep in mind that each chapter should be a building block that adds to the whole (the integrity, the soundness) of the story. All the characters and events in a story sort of live in my head, so it can be difficult to rein them in. Sometimes whole chapters end up on the chopping block because they are rabbit-trails that will complicate or diffuse the story. I don't consider a deleted chapter a waste if it aids me in developing a greater understanding of a character or helped me to solidify in my own mind what I DO need to say, then I have still gained something by the effort. :-)

In my Scions of the Aegean C series, I decided to begin most chapters with a quote from the "history" of the people in the story, and each quote is a sort of window or keyhole through which the reader can peek into what guides or troubles them. It's a device you may or may not decide to employ, but let me give you a bit of the backstory and then an example of how I used it when writing a chapter in the book.

Backstory for the series: A group of 2,000 settlers boarded a spacecraft, bound for a new settlement, but the craft crashed in an unknown world. They were unable to leave, and no one ever came to rescue them from the place they decided to call Aegea. Early on, great sacrifices were made and injustices were committed in the name of security and survival, but they did survive. A century later (when the story takes place), Aegea has a growing society where most have enough food to eat—but few are free to do as they wish. They are a people who no longer need to plan their daily survival, but haven't figured out how to move beyond the decisions that got them this far.

One of the characters who will appear throughout the series, Sage Dooley, is a descendant of scientists and engineers who first landed in Aegea. Everyone hopes Sage will be as inventive and productive as his ancestors so they depend upon him and protect him from every potential danger, but no one has ever asked him what he'd like to do with his life. No one knows if he's is odd because he's brilliant or because he's forced to live such a sheltered existence.

So, in chapter one of Through the Land of Cloud and Leaf (Book 2 in the series) Sage Dooley has managed to slip away from his guards and get to a remote location on the Aegean Plateau. He's inside a basket that's attached to a giant kite—about to shoot skyward in the first attempt at manned flight in over a century.

I begin the chapter with a line drawing of the event (shown above) and a quote from one of his ancestors. In one short sentence we get a snapshot of what drives Sage Dooley:

"It's possible to fear so much for your own life that you waste all of it in a safe place."—Hal Dobbin, just prior to boarding the final flight of the spacecraft Aegean C, one hundred nine years ago.

Creating these little "sayings" has been one of the great joys of writing the Scions of the Aegean C series.


Terry L. Craig is a is a follower of Christ, a Bible nerd, and comparative thinker who is an author, an indie publisher, and occasional speaker. She likes to engage people and get them thinking about why they believe what they believe. You can learn more about her on the Wild Flower Press, Inc. website ) or on her website.

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