By now, if you’ve been reading my blog for the past few weeks, you know of all my major events in my writing career:
- The Final Ride is finished and awaiting approval from my publisher,
- While I semi-patiently wait for their verdict, I’ve been researching and studying marketing and promotion ideas (not my favorite activity), and
- I’ve been trying to develop an entr’acte between book one in the Ride series and book two.
Since, as I explained in “Bruisin’ My Forehead,” I didn’t have an idea for the in-betweener, I’ve been working with K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel in hopes of coming up with something viable. I haven’t been able to follow her order of doing things–she starts with a series of “what if” questions, which is a whole lot easier when you have a clue what it is you want to write. She even said that before she sits down to this, her idea has been bouncing around in her head awhile. Me? Nada.
But I’m plowing through, playing with her book and trying to throw things together. Monday, I showed you my character comparison table based on information from Katie’s book. Since my characters are already established for the new story, exploring what I already know about them has been the stimulus I needed to come up with a premise–something Katie expects us to do fairly early. Granted, she says it’s not written in stone and is likely to change throughout our course of story-exploration, but I think the one I came up with is really worth pursuing.
So, here’s my thought process, based on what I know of Patricia Talbert’s best friend, Marie Lambeau (derived from Give the Lady a Ride):
- she’s a former runway model, a fashionista and very much a girly-girl.
- she owns a clothing boutique in Manhattan and can “sell the thorns off a cactus”
- she enjoys the company of men and has had several boyfriends
- she bores easily
- she’s always up for something new and different
- she’s worldly, but tenderhearted
- she fell in love with Chance Davis at first sight (and she didn’t fall alone!)
- Chance led her to salvation
- she’s a new Christian
Taking what I know of her alone, the “what-ifs” started flowing like the falls in Niagara, and a premise developed:
After her old boyfriend re-enters her life, new Christian Marie Lambeau must confront her guilt and shame before committing herself to the new love in her life.
Like I said, I think it’s a good one, but don’t hold me to it. It’s still early in the outlining game, and I don’t know what’s going to transpire.
Now comes the question–an early evaluation, so to speak. Do I like outlining?
Okay, the question is a bit premature, but I do love having a guideline and stimulus questions to help me get ideas.
Usually, I already have a nebulous idea and just start writing to see what develops. That practice has proven successful–I wrote my award-winning Give the Lady a Ride totally by the seat of my pants, without outlining at all. By the time I wrote The Final Ride, I already had two other novels under my belt and was beginning to see the value of some outlining. I still wrote the first several chapters, but as ideas hit, instead of committing them to the manuscript, I’d chase them on separate pages to see where they’d go. I learned to like having a blueprint to work by.
Question #2: Will I stick to my “commitment” of not writing before I have a completed outline? Who knows? Not long ago, as I was writing The Final Ride, I “committed” to the idea of not editing while I wrote–just write trash. Just get it down. Don’t worry about it until it’s all done. Ha! No, I couldn’t do that, so I’m not sure I’ll succeed at completing an outline before I give in to the urge to write the first chapter.
What I’m wondering, though, is whether I can “just write trash” while I’m following an outline. The process I go through while I’m writing intuitively is similar to the process Katie presents in her book, but my first draft is my outline. Everything gets explored in a helter-skelter way, the same way I’m skipping around in Katie’s book. So when I’m writing, and my “outline” changes, I have to go back and fix everything that went on before (a.k.a. edit). I don’t think it takes any longer for me to fix things than it does for someone else to develop an intricate outline–but when I’m finished, I have a novel that needs to a final edit, and when the outliner is finished, she has an outline that needs to be turned into a novel which will need to be edited.
So, once again, I have my backside balancing uncomfortably on the fence. But I’ll try to give this outlining thing a fair shake before I come to a decision. What I do know now is that it really helps when I don’t have a clue what I’m going to write about. Whether I’ll follow the process when I do have an idea is something I’ll decide in the future with Book 3.
Oh–I think I finally have a working title: A Ride Through the Shadows. What do you think?
By the way: Writer’s Digest is hosting Katie in a live 90-minute webinar August 27th, “Outlining Your Novel: Create a Roadmap to Storytelling Success.” If you’d like hear her as you read my struggles as I try to follow her book, sign up here!