A couple of days ago I bought Sarah Domet’s book ’90 Days to Your Novel’. The instructional book promises to guide you through the writing of your first draft within 90 days. It’s a huge claim and it will take an equally huge commitment from myself. I started reading the introduction in Ms. Domet’s book and found it to be the most realistic writing instructional book I’ve read in years, if not ever. I continued into the first section of the book where Ms. Domet discussed the various aspects of a book and scene. The first section focused on your novel’s outline.
Just as Ms. Domet says in the first section of her book, I didn’t like outlining my stories in high school either. I didn’t like wasting the time working on an outline when I could have been spending the time writing the story. It took some time for me to realize that putting the time in up front, makes the actual story writing much easier. Over the years I came to love outlining. I start with what I call Story Pillars. There are four Story Pillars. Each pillar is needed to support your story. They are mile markers, telling you where to start from, where your going and the best route to take.
The first pillar is The End of the Story. When your going on a road trip, you know where you’re going. Recently I visited Orlando, Florida as well as Montreal, Quebec. I knew before I started on my trips where I was going. When you know where your going, you’ll know when you get there. Of course you can just get in the car and driving for the day, just as you could just pick up a pen and start writing, but without knowing where your going, you could drive for hours and just waste gas and time.
The Beginning of the Story is the second pillar. Where are you beginning? The answer would include the hook. It’s the hook that gets the reader’s attention and, more importantly, holds the reader’s attention. When you introduce your main character, what is he doing? How will you get the readers to become interested in this character? Where does the character start and how do you get your story going? For a short story, the beginning pillar may only be a paragraph to a page long.
The second and third pillars and the Plot Points at the end of Act I and the end of Act II. The end of the first Act propels your main character from her normal life into a new life or new experience. In ‘Wizard of Oz’ this is the point where Dorothy landed in the magical land of Oz. Luke Skywalker decided to leave his home planet to fight the Empire at the end of the Act I. The end of Act II is the point of the story where the main character made the big life and death choice that propels him into the climax. The Rebel’s decide to attack the Death Star.
This is the story construction format I’ve been using for a number of years. Now that I am reading Sarah Domet’s book I need to set this aside and follow her direction. I want to see how successful I am with her claims. 90 days is not a very long time. Three months. A lot can happen in three months. Hopefully, in 90 days I’ll have the first draft of my novel.
Well, I need to start writing the first assignment, Memories from my Childhood.