Tag Archives: outline

Evolution of a Novel #1

So, on Friday I mentioned that I’d started outlining my project for November.  It’s a science fiction novel that’s been kicking around in my head for a lot of years (long before I’d even heard of NaNoWriMo).

It still doesn’t have a name but for now we’ll call it The Desert Planet. (The Word doc name is my usual ever-(not)-helpful “NaNoWriMo 2017 Outline.”)

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to explore where the idea came from and trace it from that one bit of inspiration through to the final project.

This novel started as a single scene that hit me as I walked out of an air conditioned building in downtown Pittsburgh and into a wall of city heat.

And that’s all the scene was – the main character walking out of an air conditioned building and into a wall of heat.

Then a second character came up to him. Said second character was supposed to be his guide on a rescue mission.

And for a long time that’s where the whole thing sat.

Throughout the years a couple more scenes got added inside my head, but nothing major was happening, just two characters traveling through the desert.

Then last Wednesday, years after the initial idea, it suddenly had a prologue, some background, and a plot twist. (What brought it to the forefront after all that time? Unseasonably hot weather that hit me when I stepped out of my much cooler house.)

So, I started outlining.

So far I have the prologue outlined, and the first two scenes.

Scene two used to be scene one, until I decided that there was too much telling (it was MMC1 reflecting on the mission briefing he’d just left) so I made the briefing scene one so I could show it instead.

Scene two is MMC1 meeting his guide for the mission – one of the planet’s natives.

It still doesn’t have a title, and none of the main characters have a name. One minor character does, but the main characters are MMC1, MMC2, and FMC. I also need names for the planet, the city, the natives, their tribes, and the enemy.

But, hey! I have over five months to name everything, right?



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It was an odd two days off.  Aside from being unseasonably hot (near 90F in May is not normal for my area) it was also kind of productive.

Well, not very productive. It was too hot to do much of anything.

But I did do some writing.

I wrote about 500 words. (532 to be precise.)

It’s not much, but progress is progress, right?

It wasn’t toward any of my stated goals for the month, though; it was for a scene to be added to Onyx Sun.

As for my goals for the month. *sigh*

I think I’m not going to be submitting to the anthology after all. I have two ideas for it but neither one seems to want to write itself – or tell me to write it.  There’s still time, I suppose. We’ll see.

And I haven’t even opened the Elven Bard novel.

But I started outlining another novel, one that’s been kicking around in my head for years. It’s science fiction and it’s going to be my NaNoWriMo novel this November.  (Hey! Only five and a half months to go! Of course I’m outlining!)

So at least I’m doing something, even if it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.



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Crunch Time!

That noise you hear is the sound of panic coming from hundreds of thousands of writers who are realizing that there are only three days (not counting today) before NaNoWriMo.

I may or may not be one of those writers.

Actually, I’m in pretty good shape as far as the novel itself goes.  I have one pretty thorough outline that I’m still tweaking a bit (I’m having trouble with the sequence of events in a few places but if that’s not settled by the time I get to that part of the story I can fix it in the rewrite) and I have two more outlines waiting in the wings.  I’m not going to need them, but I can always finish them and use them for Camp sessions next year.  (Or work on them around the editing projects that I’ve been ignoring.)

(Yes, that means that I’ve decided which of the Elven Bard books I’m going to work on.)

My panic comes from the list of things that I need to finish before the end of the month.  It’s a very long list and it refuses to get any shorter no matter what I do. (I swear my lists are the spawn of hydras. I cross one thing off and two others grow in its place.)

I did get the stock up shopping done, so there is that.  I still need to get groceries – I’m hoping to do that Sunday night after work.  (I was going to go after work last night but it was raining and I’m already fighting off some sort of respiratory crud so I just came home instead.)

(I don’t have time to get sick.  NaNoWriMo is coming!)

Mostly my list consists of things to do.

Some of it is stuff to get done and out of the way around the house (like get the rat food out of the big 40 pound bag and into smaller containers).

The rest is stuff to get done online so I don’t have to deal with it next month (finish setting up snippets for the blog hops, for instance, and ordering more meds for the brat rats).

How much will get done before November first?


I’m hoping that the rat food and the online and computer stuff will be done before then, along with at least one major assault on the clutter that has accumulated while I wasn’t looking. (I need to finish a craft project first, too. Oh, dear.)

And I’m working today, tomorrow, and Sunday.

And Monday I’ll be busy baking and cooking and getting ready to start writing at midnight.

Sleep may be something I only dream of…


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Catching Up vs Staying Caught Up

If you’ve been following my blog (and paying attention) you’ll know that I participate in two weekly blog hops: the LGBT-oriented Rainbow Snippets on Saturday and the more general Snippet Sunday on… well, on Sunday, obviously. (Although the thread is started on Saturday, just because I don’t have enough trouble knowing what day of the week it is.)

Both are through Face Book and between the two of them there are probably forty to fifty posts each week.

The Rainbow Snippet thread usually starts around noon my time and I post my link and then read and comment until time to go to work, and by the time I get home (I work 3 to 11) the Snippet Sunday thread is up.

Once I’m home from work, the first order of business (after I post the link to my Sunday snippet) is to finish the Rainbow Snippet blog hop.  Then, depending how tired I am I either go to bed or start the Sunday Snippets.

I try to stay on top of the posts as best I can while working on weekends, my goal being to have all snippets done either Sunday night or Monday before work at the latest.

I’m usually pretty successful.


Sometimes, like last week, for whatever reason, the above plan falls through and just doesn’t happen.  (I think I finished last weekend’s blog hops on Friday, just in time to start all over on Saturday.)

Every time I let myself fall behind (thinking I’ll do both hops on my days off) I am reminded of how much easier it is to stay caught up than it is to get caught up.

Why is that?

I don’t know.

I’m thinking it might be because seeing 20+ comments per thread waiting for you to click and read is kind of overwhelming and makes you feel like you’ll never get through all of them so you may as well just throw in the towel before you even start.

All I know for sure is that it seems to be a lot easier if I don’t wait to do it on my days off.

It’s like that with NaNoWriMo, too.  It’s much easier to get a good lead and try not to fall too far below par than it is to say “I’ll make up the deficit on my days off.”

Sadly, I seem to have spent a large portion of the last few NaNo events scrambling to get caught up, but I’m hoping this time will be different.

This time I’ll have a detailed outline.  (It’s currently at 1800 or so words and still has two weeks to grow and deepen and add layers.)  That will help a lot.  I know me, and I know that my writing (and later, editing) goes a lot smoother if I am working from an outline – and the more in-depth the better.

Also working in my favor for NaNoWriMo is that I’m taking the 31st off, so I’ll have a nice relaxing day and will be caught up on social media and ready to start writing at midnight.  (That’s kind of become my tradition – start writing at midnight and get at least a thousand words in before I go to bed.)

I’m also off the first two days of November, so I’m hoping to be able to get a good jump on my word count.  I’d love to hit at least 10K before I go back to work on the third.

And then I need to stay not just caught up, but ahead on word count, because I’m planning on going to the midnight showing of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the 18th.

Because, you know, I’m sure it won’t stir any more plot bunnies…

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Can’t live with ’em, can’t write without them.

Well, okay.  Technically you can write without them but I know me and I do better with an outline. A good outline keeps me on track, keeps me from floundering and from straying too far from the plot, and gives me something to gently herd characters and story line back to when they stray.  A good outline also makes revisions and edits much easier. (Without an outline I tend to have multiple versions of how a scene plays out which is a nightmare in the editing phase.)

So, with that in mind, I’m outlining for November, and I can already see the headaches that it’s saving me.

Like Sutag’s advisor that double-crossed him.  I decided that there was enough going on that I didn’t need a second antagonist, so he is no longer even mentioned in the outline.

And the fact the prologue that I had planned isn’t really a prologue and is going to have to be put into the main body of the book. I’m now toying with not having a prologue at all.  And I’m not even certain that the former prologue should even be in the book. I’ll write it in and maybe delete it in revisions.  (It takes place in the Orc Kingdom and everything around it is in the Drow/Elf kingdom and I’m not sure I like jumping back and forth between places.  But we’ll see.  I’m not sure I can get the needed information relayed without that scene, though.  Fortunately, the outline will help me sort that out — hopefully before the first of November.)

I am kind of stuck in the outline right now.  I had so many potential scenarios that I couldn’t really move forward and work on a “what happens next” scene until I figured out what happened to get them to that point.  I’ve managed to get that mostly sorted out but still need to smooth out a few minor points (like who gets where first). I’m about ready to resort to writing the scenes on post cards and rearranging them, but I think that once I enter the current changes in the Word doc and type up a few more notes and such that I’ll be able to see where to go next.

I sure hope so, at any rate.  October is almost half over already.

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Song and Spam

I don’t know what it is about NaNoWriMo that brings forth plot bunnies.  Does it emit some sort of pheromone?  Does some favorite treat only grow during NaNo months and lures them forth?  Does my muse just put out a casting call for out of work plot bunnies?

I have no idea, but whatever it is, it never fails.

This morning, with three weeks left before NaNoWriMo, a new plot bunny climbed out or the woodwork and jumped into the bathtub with me.

On the positive side, it is part of the Elven Bard series (which is growing out of Song and Sword), is pretty much fully grown, and helps me eliminate some of the potential scenarios in the one I’m currently outlining.

On the negative side, I don’t know exactly where it’s going to fit in the timeline for that world.

And on an even more negative side, it wants to steal the title for the one I’m currently working to get ready for NaNo.

So now the question becomes, do I continue with the current book or do I stop and work on an outline for this one?

And what do I do about titles?

I was sort of falling out of love with Song and Shield for the current project anyhow.  The use of “Shield” makes me feel like I need to get the Shield of Truth from Palora’s Crossing to use in it, and it doesn’t really fit into the book at all.

Actually, the shield doesn’t fit into either the one I’ve been outlining or the new one that hopped in, so I’m thinking that they both need new names.

Because, yeah.

Three weeks.

Two stories.

No titles.

(Or maybe lots of titles, courtesy of Cassy and Danielle and Danielle’s dictionary.)

(Song and Spam is not going to be one of the choices.)


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The Elven Bard Series (or Something)

I really hope that October doesn’t go as fast as September did. I have too much to do this month and already feel like I don’t have enough time to do it.

I’ve started working on two outlines for NaNoWriMo, both sequels to Song and Sword.  (I’m leaving the prequel alone until a Camp session since it’s started.)

I’ve decided to call this group of novels the “Elven Bard…”  Saga or Chronicles or Books or something.  Just not sure what to use for the last word.

All of the books are going to start with “Song and…”

The prequel is going to be Song and Shadow.

The sequels are Song and Shield and Song and Stone.

Song and Stone is the one that I have the best plot for so far, but I’d rather save it for April Camp.  For one thing, Song and Shield actually takes place before Song and Stone, and The Academy of the Accord has taught me my lesson about writing books out of order, and for another, I already have a scene written for Song and Stone and I like to do a totally fresh start for NaNo in November.

However, Song and Shield is actually shaping up rather nicely.  I was sitting in the car waiting for my roommate to get her pre-employment drug test and I started brainstorming with pen and paper and six scribbled pages later I had more subplots than I could keep track of.

The next step is to type up those notes, print them out, and try to edit them into an actual outline format. (Yes, I do paper edits of my outlines.  That’s why I needed to get a new printer and get it up and running.)

Anyhow, I now have subplots that I’ve managed to tie together and I have a pretty good idea of the problem my protagonists are going to have to solve.  I’m not quite sure where the story is going yet (I have no idea how they’re going to solve the problem) but that’s the next step after I get the problem sorted out.

I’m getting really excited for this book and already can’t wait to start.

Come on, November!

Oh, wait. Never mind.  I’m not ready…


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September Summary, October Goals

September is over already?  Things have been so busy here that doesn’t seem like that long ago that I set up my goals for the month and now here it is, time to look back at how I did (“abysmal” comes to mind) and look forward to the goals for next month.

I finally finished entering the changes to Book 4 of The Academy of the Accord.


That was about it.  I’ve almost but not quite finished this round of revisions and paper edits to Onyx Sun, but… yeah, it still needs a few days of work.  (I normally work on paper edits during down time at work, but we courtesy of a new resident there hasn’t been any down time for a couple weeks.)

I’ve also done pretty good at the thousand words a week, despite the fact that the stress of dealing with the above-mentioned resident for forty hours a week has been totally draining me. Something needs to change by November or I’ll never make 50K for the month.

I haven’t done the “hour a week on some other craft” but, oddly, I haven’t felt the need to do something different.  Maybe I’m just too stressed out from work, or maybe the goal gave me permission to do that and now I don’t need to want to do it.  (That sentence makes sense in my head.)

So, on to October.

I do want to finish the paper edits to Onyx Sun and get the changes entered in Word, and maybe enter the changes to Book Five of The Academy of the Accord, but neither of those is going to be my major focus.

No, my major focus in October is going to be November.

Or, more specifically, putting together detailed outlines of the three potential books for NaNoWriMo.  By mid-month I need to have at least a basic outline for all three so I can decide which one shows the most promise and develop it more completely.  (As a general rule, the more detailed the outline I’m working with the better the writing goes and the more closely I manage to stick to said outline the more smoothly the editing goes.  And right now smooth editing would be a welcome change.)

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Dodging Plot Bunnies

We’re just over a month away from NaNoWriMo and already the plot bunnies have been congregating. I swear the approach of November acts as bait for them.

There’s a dragon story that really wants me to write it.  (And Squirrel! I just had a breakthrough on what to do next for Book 2 of the Other Mages trilogy.)

Anyhow, as I was saying, the plot bunnies are starting to crowd around.  I love the dragon story that’s taking shape in my head, but there’s also this weird dream that I had last night in which I was a cat burglar. (If you could actually see me you’d laugh hysterically at that.)  The dream itself has great promise as a novel. I don’t think I’ll ever write it although I might incorporate elements of it into something else.

Yeah.  Nothing like the approach of NaNoWriMo to call forth the plot bunnies (and it’s only going to get worse from here on out) but the plan is to work on another book set around Song and Sword.  (Because if I don’t my friend Debbie will probably kidnap me and lock me in a room chained to a desk until I do.)

But which book set around Song and Sword?

There’s the prequel, which was supposed to be a short side-story about how Pachevel met Hierik, but when I re-read what I had written there’s a definite novel in it. It might be the easiest to tackle but I always start something new for NaNoWriMo and use Camp sessions to work on stuff already started.

And then there’s the sequel that I had started.  Well, sort of started.  I’m not quite sure what the starting scene is yet.  I might stick with the one I have or I might move it a bit further in.  We’ll see when I start outlining.

Then there’s a sequel that goes before that sequel. (A prequel to a sequel?) I have only a very vague idea for it but I feel like it should be written before the other one.  (For one thing, I’ve pretty much learned my lesson about writing books out of order.)

Decisions, decisions.  I’ll start outlining all three and see which one shows the most promise and probably go with that.


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September Goals 2016

Since this is the last post for August (other than Wednesday Words) I thought I’d set up my goals for September, since, you know, I did so well with the August ones.

Since I didn’t meet my August goals, the logical thing to do would be to simply carry them over to September, right?


Well, maybe not wrong exactly, but definitely not what I’m doing. Some goals I’m keeping, some I’m tweaking, and some I’m letting ride to October. (Or beyond.)

Of the August goals, I’ve done pretty well at writing a hundred words a day.  Maybe not writing every day, but averaging that, I think. For September I’m changing the writing goal to a thousand words a week.  That’s more than August’s goal, but if I do the thousand words on a day off (or even on a work day) that frees me from that obligation for another week, which takes off a lot of pressure.

I’m relatively certain I can still get the last bit of the changes to Book 4 of The Academy of the Accord done before Thursday rolls around, even if I am still struggling to figure out what I meant with my note about the note.  I need to get it finished so I can get it printed for another round of editing before it goes to a beta reader because I’m still not sure I’ve patched all of its plot holes to my satisfaction, and since I’m really not happy with the ending and think that it needs to move to an earlier part of the book, because the scene that happens shortly before it is a much better ending. (Unfortunately, that scene leads up to the current ending so I’m not sure how I’m going to flip flop them.)

So, anyhow, since I’m almost done with that project for this round, my Academy of the Accord goal for September is to enter the changes for Book 5 and do first round paper edits of Book 6.  Maybe.  I’m really trying not to set myself up for failure by taking on more than I can possibly expect to accomplish next month.  (It would really be a nice change to meet all or at least most of my goals.)

I think I might have to set up primary and secondary goals.

The main change is going to be in regards to Onyx Sun.  I’m chugging through the paper edits with the comments of beta readers in mind, and I’m finding a lot of things that could be expanded on.  Not doing so is going to seriously short-change the book so I’m going to ease off on its goals and push back its release date to ??? Maybe October but more likely December or even January.  We’ll see how September goes but I’m not going to rush it.

(I’m not going to rush The Academy of the Accord either.  If it doesn’t see the light of an e-reader until 2020, so be it.)

I’m still going to be hammering out outlines for other books in the Song and Sword universe.  One is almost done. It’s missing… something that I can’t quite put my finger on, and it needs me to figure out what order some events happen in. (I think some index cards might be involved in that project.)  I still have two months to figure it out, though, so I’m not worried. (Much.)

The other main change I’m making for September is going to sound counter productive and counter intuitive to finishing all (or even any) of the above.

And maybe it is.


I’m going to spend at least one hour a week on (gasp!) some other hobby or craft. It won’t matter if it’s crochet or counted cross stitch or a junk journal or some other paper craft or working on a doll house or other miniature project, but at least one hour a week is going to be devoted to some other creative outlet.


Because I get so frustrated because there is so much else I want to do but all my time seems to be devoted to writing, and then I end up resenting it, even though it’s my main obsession and first (and truest) love.

How is all this going to work out?

I’ll let you know as soon as the Magic 8 Ball is done laughing at me.



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