In other, less toy-related, news, I’ve finally rebounded from the respiratory yucks. None of this could happen, naturally, until the holidays had evaporated, but isn’t that how life goes? Once I felt up to it, I returned to my task of completing Christine Frazier’s 30-step NaNoWriMo outline, as I’d mentioned earlier. Things hadn’t gone as swimmingly as they might (“achingly slow” is how the Good Witch phrased it), but I’d somehow managed to plug along fairly consistently until the yucks hit me. In front of the computer screen, I tried to ignore each new step until I reached it. Finishing with #27, I saw this:
Step 28. A climactic battle with the villain reveals the twist and explanation
Which isn't at all what I would have done, if I wasn't letting Christine guide me. I felt lost because, while the story has a villain, my little mail-order bride story was woefully free of late-story surprise twists. While I’d fudged a few points to hit Christine’s various marks along the way, I’d still done it. And, sure, maybe part of Step 1 was in Step 2, and a bit of Step 4 was in Step 3, but the tale had come together pretty solidly. Until Step 28. Oh, bother.
I decided I had to cheat to see what Step 29 had in store for me. Maybe if Step 29 made some kind of sense, then Step 28 could be made to work. Sadness, that wasn't what happened.
Step 29. The hero is knocked out, wakes up in the hospital, and learns of success
My story was woefully shy of hospitals. Also, I didn't want my hero or heroine to be absent during the finale. They needed to learn of success as they achieved it! Step 29 hadn't helped in even the tiniest amount.
If those two steps insisted on being wrongheaded, I saw no reason not to peek at Step 30. The last part of the outline insisted that Faith, my heroine, had to go home, I literally threw up my hands in frustration. This is a mail-order bride story and, in my particular story, anyway, the bride stays in the Dakota Territories. In the middle of nearly-nowhere, I didn't want her to return to New York! After doing so well earlier, I felt helpless, it was hopeless, and I was done.
I’d have to abandon the outline. Instead, I'd bring everything to a close before steps 28/29/30 even happen, and count the project as a win. A win with an *asterisk*, sure, but a win.
But Glynn was home, happy days, and he witnessed the black cloud circling my head. He wondered what was wrong, and I told him. He asked if he could see the outline, so I gave it to him. Then I went into my doll cave to meditate and feel better.
If you don’t think someone can find peace in a doll room, you clearly don’t own a pale blonde Barbie with the Japan flip curl.
The good news is, Glynn liked what I’d written. I knew this was true, because he's a lousy liar. He admitted this wasn’t like any of our other stories, he was surprised and amused by what I’d done, and – better news – he had some ideas on how to finish the last three steps. Listening to his suggestions, I wanted to argue against them...but they worked nicely, once I accepted that they could work at all. He even had a twist that I didn't see coming.
I sat down to flesh out the ending of the story. It took another day to get there, but get there I did. The outline is complete at almost 10,000 words, which is as complete as any of our outlines tend to be, and I’m eager/scared to get going. Starting tomorrow, I’ll charge ahead and I'll let you know how things go.
I'm taking next week off from the blog to tackle this kind of nutty idea. I’ll be knocking out a chapter-a-day, if Christine is right. and should be nearly halfway done with the book the next time we talk.