Today, I bought a new Kindle book at the recommendation of a friend and started reading. To be honest, I wasn’t excited about it, but I thought maybe it’d be a good lesson for me– that I’d learn things. The book? Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland. I don’t write with an outline– rather, before I read this book, I didn’t think I did. guess what? I do. As I read through this, I tried to figure out how I’d do all the things that she suggested. So, I started thinking it through with one of my books. I had it all. I even had the tossed ideas. I couldn’t believe it, but the truth I realized is that I do this. I do it all. It is absolutely frightening to realize how intricate the lives of my characters are and just how much about them I know.
The author writes this book as if without this information, you’d have holes in your characters’ psyche. I didn’t get it. I mean, my characters seem to act according to who they are. Once in a while I’m surprised by their behavior, but when I think about it, it all makes sense after all. The reason being, people are not 100% consistent. We all have quirky flaws. Well, so do my characters and I always thought I was surprised by them, but I’m not. I’m stunned. Absolutely stunned. I thought I was a a “go with the flow” writer. I really thought I sat down and “transcribed” my characters’ stories. I mean, that’s what it seemed like. Alas, all that information really is in an outline– it’s just all in my head.
I’m writing my next series following this gal’s plan of action. After all, I know it works. However, this time, I’m putting it on paper. I want to see what happens with it. I’m curious.
Have I always been an inner outliner? I don’t know. I have always thought that my one “deliberate” outlined story, Thirty Days Hath…, would have had a completely different ending if I had not set who he ended up with in “stone” before I started the story. You know what? It’s not true. I believed it because I know where I wanted to take the story when I got to month two. I wanted him to end up with Christine. I loved her. I loved them. It was all so very perfect with her. But you know what? Being very realistic about it– no. It was never possible. The book would have ended at forty-thousand words, there would have been quite a few women who were promised a month who never got it, and what would have happened if– well, some of those questions give away the ending. Can’t have that out there. LOL.
This year’s NaNo is a complicated story. There are several motivators, interesting places, and it is all steering to one general location. I really have a lot to accomplish with it. Additionally, I really do not want to publish book one until book three is half done. This is because I do not want to publish book two until book four is half done and so forth. Having finished my first series and about to finish my second, I’ve learned that I really want the next book done before I publish the last. I do not like it when time makes people wait.
Additionally, I want to end this book knowing that I have eked out every single bit from this story that I can. I want the readers to be swept along with ship, cresting waves and then crashing down when the characters do. The intricate intertwinings of plots will necessitate lots of foreshadowing and appropriate use of back story at perfect places. I really think that if I am not very careful, this will turn out to be a very mediocre story. I don’t want that. I want a very strong solid story.
I learned a lot from this book. That is what I want. So often, I read books about writing and walk away from them with the feeling that I just wasted my time when I could have been writing. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think I know all there is to know. I know I have much to learn. However, too many books rehash what other books have said and often without giving it a fresh outlook to make what we should have “gotten” in previous reads alive in this one. I think I just “click” with this writer. So, I second the recommendation. Get the book and, while you’re at it, start following her checklists. I bet you’ll learn things about yourself and your characters that you didn’t know you knew!