My “Outlining Your Novel” Journey, Part I

I thought it would be a great learning tool for other writers to hear my NaNoWritMo journey this year and how it led me to a new revelation about my writing. After 37,000+ words I realized that I didn’t know where my story was going. I had hit a rock and a hard place. My mind had imploded!

Realistically this was due to several reasons. I had some personal issues to deal with, and I did not have an outline. I thought because I had this story rolling around in my head, it would fly from my fingers to my keyboard in a spectacular display of writing and plotting as I created. That was not meant to be. I felt like I had lost track of the plot. I had so many ideas swimming around in my head that I couldn’t decide for sure which way to go. I didn’t know how to filter through the “crap” to find the real essence of my story.

The Meadow Fairy is the second novel in my series. There lies part of the problem. The second book needs to show that my protagonist, Abby Forester is growing in her knowledge of her place as the fairy whisper and what that entails. She has a new mission to fulfill, and I have to make sure that my plot follows the scenes necessary for a YA novel. For me, that takes plotting and slipping back into becoming a logical person for this part of the process. I realized that my right-brained creativity needed my left-brained logic more than ever.

I’ve been a follower of K.M. Weiland’s blog for several years now and own a couple of her books and ebooks. Recently, she was instrumental in creating a software program to accompany her “Outlining your Novel” book, called “Outlining Your Novel Workbook,” designed by Bob Miller, Inc.

Since I was stuck with my plot, I figured, why not give this program a try. I purchased the program and bought the book.

What I hope to do is to share my journey into producing a workable outline for my YA fantasy book, The Meadow Fairy. I’m not giving you the plot. Where possible, I will share some of the basic ingredients of my story without telling you the outcome. Instead, I want to share the steps I take in creating an outline using the Outlining Your Novel program and book by K.M. Weiland.

The program contains all the necessary ingredients:

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STEP ONE: The What If Question – All premises begin with a What If Question

The program has a place where you can start asking the questions pertinent to your story. Of course, my first two questions were:

  • What if Abby saves the bees?
  • What if Abby can’t save the bees?

What this simple questioning exercise did was allow me to brainstorm ideas that I hadn’t considered before. I wrote them all down and felt energized by the possibilities. Some of these questions will never be used, while others have let me to new opportunities in my plot.

Once I asked the what if questions, it was logical to ask what is expected?

  • Abby is expected to save the bees.

Then, you must ask the questions what is unexpected?

  • It is unexpected if Abby can’t save the bees.

The What If questions helped me to figure out the premise of my book. What would a YA adventure be without a problem to solve? The point I’m trying to make is that you must brainstorm ideas or your premise/plot becomes dull and expected.

STEP TWO: K.M. Weiland instructs that we must determine our
premise.

What is a premise? The premise is a single sentence that conveys the plot and the theme. It’s like a business’ mission statement. Here are my examples:

  • I’m writing a YA fantasy story with a subplot involving loyalty and environmental responsibility to the earth and its inhabitants. (This is my general statement)
  • I’m writing a YA fantasy adventure taking place in Colorado, where Abby Forester, the fairy whisperer, is summoned by the fairy nymphs to solve the problem of why the bees are dying on the earth.

K.M. Weiland says that we should try to create a sentence that conveys the characters, the setting, and the central conflict. (Chapter 3, P. 47, Outlining Your Novel).

I think I was able to do that in my second example.

Not sure how to brainstorm? Read How to Brainstorm. Give Your Brain Free Rein

So, that’s it for today. I’m off to work on these “What If” questions. I’ll continue my plotting journey in future posts. I hope this helps you if you’ve lost your way in your writing journey. ❤

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