Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Structure and Plot – Part 3 of 5

After I had an approved story and treatment, I went to work writing the first and second draft. My inclination was not to offer one perspective, but to offer several. A mystery just did not work from an observer’s point-of-view because I had a lot of characters and they’re all not physically located in the same place on the ship. The logistics of having Dan sneak around like a ninja were not only boring — but creepy and Clueish. So, I added in other perspectives straight off the bat. I knew multiple viewpoints (there are three) was outside of how I normally write, but I felt it was necessary for a good story.

Now, having said that, multiple viewpoints requires something else: your ability as a reader to like the characters. There’s a reason why Dan Daget didn’t survive the final cut. *Yawn.* Since this was the first novella I wrote with a three narrator structure, I didn’t go into the story guns a-blazin’ and write it based on a solid frame. The structure was reorganized during the revisions process. At first, what I needed to do, was simply focus on the story and the viewpoints. The other niggly bits, like consistency, physics, and the like, came much later.

The three perspectives you’ll read are: Fang, a psychotic teddy bear who’s technically not supposed to be on board, Xax (a.k.a. Edna Keene) a young recruit who gets kidnapped, and Maarl, the last character I added. Maarl replaced Dan as Chief of Security; he’s a former slave and his alien race resembles lions. Maarl came last. The first drafts had Dan Daget at the helm, but he wound up being such a jerk.

Now, telling part of the story from Xax’s perspective really worked out well because you got to experience what happened to her. If I say anymore, I’m going to include spoilers and that I don’t want to do. Instead, I’m going shift gears and address how the plot evolved.

Writing a mystery enabled me to hone in on the differences between the characters and introduce new fictional elements to Bulldogs! that weren’t in the corebook. I built some layers into the plot and the characters because, in my mind, readers are smart. You’re going to figure out the whodunnit part faster than I could write it, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have fun leading you through the story and the world.

Since this is very much a whodunnit type of a tale, I knew straight off the bat I did not want to wind up with a Scooby Doo moment where GO TEAM SCOOBY catches up with the evil villain and has a long dialogue that explains away everything. I call this technique “the tell” and I despise it. It’s natural to gravitate toward this, too, and I did my utmost best not to have a Scooby (or a Scooby snack) moment. While there was a reveal, primarily because it had to happen due to multiple viewpoints and with the way things went down, I didn’t put enough explanation in my first draft and had to tweak it some for the final.

First things first. I decided who the villain of said sordid tale was before I wrote a single scene. Had to. If I don’t know what’s going on, then certainly you won’t! Only… In Redwing’s Gambit there’s a certain amount of expectations you might have based on the alien races involved. In the game, the Ken Reeg are the McSlime-balls. Anyone who knows Bulldogs! understands not only this, but a little something about the other alien races, too. Did this factor into how the plot was structured? *whistles innocently*

To add in layers to the plot, I focused on character backstory and motivation. I really wanted (I’m sure you’re getting this deep-seated desire by now…) to help you get to know these characters to care about them. Sure, it’s a science fiction story, but I also wanted to create characters that could go onto other things; there’s a possibility there may be other adventures, game material, or stories with this crew.

On the ship, everybody’s got something they don’t want the other character to know about. Everybody’s got some secret they either want to risk, are blackmailed into giving, or feel obligated to confess.

Still, it all goes back to the main plot. Otherwise, I’d be telling you non-stop how cool this particular character was, and what’s the fun in that?

Other Parts to this Series

  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Easter Eggs – Part 5 of 5 will be published on April 23, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Revisions and Cut Text – Part 4 of 5 will be published on April 16, 2012.
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Structure and Plot – Part 3 of 5 will be published on April 9, 2012.
  • You are reading Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Characters and Treatment – Part 2 of 5
  • Constructing Redwing’s Gambit: Research and Background Part 1 of 5



About Redwing’s Gambit: Redwing’s Gambit, the first novella for the Bulldogs! RPG, debuted on Monday, March 26th in digital. This story was written by Monica Valentinelli and will be published by Galileo Games, creator of the Bulldogs! RPG. This RPG was originally published with a d20 system in 2005. It has since been updated and released in a new edition which employs the Fate mechanic in 2011.



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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