My journey is daunting.
I have read Plot and Structure, Dialogue, Creating Character Emotions, Rock Your Plot, Show and Tell in a Nutshell, Beginnings, Middles & Ends, and Story Engineering.
I have redone my outline a half dozen times, changed my protagonist’s age, occupation and conflict.
I need to find the courage to write and stop making excuses.
After reading the books from the library and a few I downloaded to my Kindle I now have a better concept of an outline for the book. I had thought, incorrectly that my outline had to look like the ones I learned to write in high school many years ago. As K.M. Weiland writes in Outlining Your Novel, “they should be opportunities for throwing caution to the wind, living on the edge, and breaking any rule silly enough to raise its head.”
I have spent most of the day today writing in longhand as Weiland suggests in a college rule spiral notebook. I have pages and pages trying to answer the who, what, where, why, how, and when of my novel. Weiland also suggested downloading yWriter (free online) to help organize my thoughts and scribbles from my spiral notebook into a neat outline.
I am excited about how far I have gotten today.
I decided it was time to quit thinking about writing and sit down at my computer to put words on paper. After writing about three paragraphs I decided I needed help with writing better sentences.
My husband, Steve, has a saying “chance favors the prepared” and when I asked if he had a book that might help me he came upstairs with a 4 disc set of 24 lectures entitled Building Great Sentences presented by Professor Brooks Landon from The University of Iowa.
I can no longer make fun of his saying.
Mr. Porterfield is now Jim at his request. Jim suggested that perhaps my protagonist could be a chef on a private rail car and thus would get to both travel and cook.
I love the idea! Now what happens on the train?
Mr. Porterfield replied to my email! Much to my delight Mr. Porterfield said he would be happy to help me with my project, would give me written permission to use his printed recipes, and would provide me with some of his several thousand recipes he collected but had not been printed. Mr. Porterfield did ask me questions about the era of my story, the particular category of menu items my protagonist liked to cook and why he liked to cook.
After a couple weeks of thought I was able to answer Mr. Porterfield’s questions by providing a little family history of train travel and memories of the dining car. I thanked him for being my sounding board and told him I appreciated any advice he might have.
I began my journey to write a novel by using Ready, Set, Novel. One of the first exercises was to write a list places and things that excite, inspire, or intrigue me. The next step was to pick nine from the list, write them down on scraps of paper and draw them out in groups of three. My three groups were: autopsies, Ozarks, and reading; Chicago, train travel, and cooking; Phoenix in the Spring, detective work, and dancing.
The second group: Chicago, train travel and cooking was the group I selected as that seemed to be closer to my idea of the novel I had been imagining the last several months. In my library of cook books were two books written by James Porterfield entitled Dining by Rail and From the Dining Car. Since I wanted to include recipes in my book I emailed Mr. Porterfield.