I’m writing today just to check in and tell you how my novel’s going.
I’m happy to report that it’s going!
Here’s how I got started switching gears from researching the master outline to actually using it.
I began by re-reading four posts to help define my story idea.
I took the chart from the Good vs. Evil post and filled it in with characters that I had previously started writing about during NaNoWriMo and the ones still floating around my head. I went through my notes to gather all the best snippets, and I really found this chart to be useful in grounding my ideas.
Next I re-read the post on back cover copy as a refresher on what a broad story overview could look like.
Writing this back cover copy first was a good exercise, because I didn’t have to fill in too many details– I just set the stage with the hero’s dreary homeland, invitation to adventure, and a hint of the theme.
Then I went to the conflict and motivation post to help frame the day-to-day struggle and the big life-or-death struggle. (This post was written within the first week of Better Novel Project’s existence, before I got hung up on micro-analyzing fight scenes. So sweet! So naive!)
As I was reading that post, I realized it was crying out for another element: a subplot struggle.
Tangent: I’m talking about a subplot where the hero owes a favor to a friend, and has to add that mission to his already full plate! Think Harry helping Hagrid with the dragon egg, on top of his school work and solving the mystery of the stone / Katniss helping take care of Rue on top of her own survival and solving the mystery of Peeta. Both Harry and Katniss got pulled into those side missions because first someone was nice to them– Hagrid showed Harry the ropes at Hogwarts, and Rue warns Katniss about the tracker jacker nest. If someone wants to write this up as a guest post about subplots, I’m all ears!
4. What We Can Learn from J.K. Rowling’s Series Grid (guest post by Cary Plocher)
The three elements above (little subplot mission, medium day-to-day struggle, big life-or-death mystery) got me thinking about Cary Plocher‘s guest post on What We Can Learn from J.K. Rowling’s Series Grid. And a-ha! The three elements are really series!
Cary’s post was based on the chapter she contributed to Book Architecture which I finally read cover-to-cover, and you should too! It’s a relatively quick read but filled with lots of other “a-ha” and “why didn’t I ever put that into words?” moments.
So, I re-shuffled the master outline into a series grid, separating the trail-of-trial obstacles into the three series, and adding additional series for the other recurring elements we’ve identified (hero’s mark, death theme, socioeconomic tension, racial or ethnic tension, good vs evil, and Chekhov’s gun).
The series grid format for the master outline has been a great help to me in turning the outline from a research list to a working document.
I will share it at some point– right now it’s a beautiful mess and I want to get back to playing with it!