Pre-Orders and Outlining

Life at the Town’s End is whirlwind. My family and I are still sick (going on 3 months of rotating symptoms now), but since time doesn’t have a pause button, we’re carrying on as usual.

I want to say next week’s book signing is first and foremost on my writing mind, but unfortunately, it’s not. Instead, my focus has been Isto, Thanmir War’s sequel. I’m outlining! Yes, I, the pantser, am outlining. And I’m pretty darn excited about it.

Okay, so this isn’t my first attempt at outlining this book. In fact, I’ve tried it about 3 other times, including making a spreadsheet that’d make Liz proud. (See Liz, I did have something…)

outline-spreadsheet-to-make-liz-proudI actually did have pretty good luck with my spreadsheet which is appropriately called “Figuring Out Events”. But when it came to translate those events to something readable in story format… Doh! It didn’t go over so well.

With four POVs, I wanted to have a nice flow with logical spacing between POV scenes. I didn’t want to have 16K of one POV, followed by 400 words of another, and then back to the first. But that’s what I ended up with. The timing that worked on the spreadsheet wasn’t working in the story. I started over, this time in a word doc called “Storyline”, writing out the scenes as I saw them fitting naturally in the story. (Aren’t I so creative with my names?)
outline-word-jumbled-messI may end up being the only one capable of making sense of my jumbled mess, but it’s working so far. I’m up to 18 pages and I’m not done yet. I’ve had to cut out several “days” in my timeline. What was taking 20 days is now down to 16. The characters only have to survive a few more days at this point.

You might think, but Loni, don’t you already have a lot written toward this book? Sadly, it’s true. I have 190K written actually. And quite a bit of it is going into the trash. But the good news is that I’m totally pantsing my outline! I’ve dropped scenes, changed roles, connected plights, and even added/removed/readded a handful of characters. And that makes outlining fun (previous attempts at outlining have not been fun). Yay for fun! I even figured out why the second born between a full-blood elemental and human winds up being a jesper and why Jebaliah is even more powerful than her jesper half-brother. Granted, that explanation doesn’t make it to print, because nobody wants an infodump that doesn’t drive the plot, but hey, I have it in case anyone wonders.

Temporary TattoosEven though I’ve been consumed with my outline, I’ve still managed to get things ready for my book signing next week. (If you’re in Boise, ID on March 5th, come and visit me downtown!) My books should arrive any day now, as should my pens, and I’ve already got some temporary tattoos.

I was thinking of doing some based on my elemental clan symbols, but a friend pointed out that This World Bites is my intended primary seller at the signing, and those clan symbols don’t really mean anything until the later Ninier books.


Even so, I’m mighty tempted to get some challenge coins engraved with the clan symbols, though those are probably too expensive to use as book-signing swag. I thought wooden nickels might be a good substitute, but I’m running out of time.

The AncientSpeaking of time, I should get physical copies of The Ancient the day before the book signing. Woot! The e-book is available for pre-order on Amazon, ready to go live on March 2nd.

Egads, I feel busy.

How are you doing so far this year? Do you have any exciting events coming up? Are you working on a project that you’re totally jazzed about? If you outline, what method works for you? What is the coolest swag you’ve seen at a signing/convention/event-where-someone-gave-you-free-stuff?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

28 thoughts on “Pre-Orders and Outlining

  1. I’m so excited for you!
    You should’ve put Fues face on some of those tattoos. 😛

    I like fleshing out my early plot notes by using a ‘Save The Cat’-style beat sheet.
    Jami Gold has some on her blog that are free to take.

    Good luck with your signing! 😀

    • Thank you!

      Actually, the Save The Cat! beat sheet is what I first started with. I like the style and applying it afterward, but I couldn’t do it before I compiled everything in a logical order. I’ll probably be pulling it up again, after I’ve got the first draft written. 🙂

  2. LOL!! I totally get the outlining after you’ve written the book. I always have an outline from before, one during (as things change) and one afterwards to help fine tune all the twists and arcs. It’s such a complex process, but the more we do it the easier it becomes, eh?

  3. If you gave that “Storyline” list to 100 different authors to write from you’d most likely get 100 very different stories.

    One neat swag item I got at a blogging/media show was a clear plastic wrapped T-shirt folded in the shape of a star. That was five years ago and that star is still displayed on my office bookcase. I’ve never opened it to see what the T-shirt looks like. Got several nice hardback books at that show also.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  4. Good luck with the book signing! That’s very exciting.

    I think it’s fine to outline after you’ve written a lot. Sometimes it’s the only way to make things make sense. I’m *trying* to outline the last 3rd of my book, but I have this kind of natural repulsion to outlines so it’s not going as well as I’d hoped. I’ll keep trying, though.

    • I know how you feel! I’m not an outliner either.

  5. Best of luck with your book signing! I’m sure all the planning and outlining will lead to good things down the road.

  6. I am so proud!!! Look at you – outlining and organizing and even making my beloved spreadsheets. I love that you’re pantsing your plotting, too, LOL. That’s perfect. If that makes it work and makes it fun, then I say go for it. Honestly, I can’t imagine how you’d write a complex epic series without at least SOME outlining. How else do you keep everything straight?

    I wish I could come to your signing! And your friend might be right, but those tattoos are REALLY cool. Save them for the Isto release!!

  7. Good luck with the book signing. I outline, but not as detailed as what you are doing now.

  8. Yay for outlining! I couldn’t write a book without outlining it first. 🙂

    Have fun at your book signing! I hope it’s a success.

  9. Emma Adams

    My outlines make no sense to anyone except me, too. 😛 I always re-outline as I go along and my characters develop a life of their own!

    Have fun at the book signing! So exciting! 🙂

  10. Yay for outlining! 😛 Seriously, I know how you feel with all this. I’m a plotter (because when I pants stuff, it goes badly), and every single outline and plot gets put together differently. There’s no one way. But I’m glad you’re figuring out ways that work for you. Hope the plotting and the book signing go very well. ^_^

    As for what I’m working on, I’m on pause for the moving thing, but hoping to get back to plotting once I’ve settled. Oi!

  11. Have fun at the book signing!
    When it comes to swag, authors are really creative.
    I’ve seen an assortment of swag items, ranging from mugs, pens and even beaded jewellery in the form of bookmarks and even a pendant.

  12. I’ve never really outlined, or, at least not what I’ve always considered outlining to be. I do make lists like your “Storyline” list, though, and they always seem to include a note like, “What about THIS CHARACTER? S/he requires something to do.”

    Which is why I have approximately 237k written for my sequel…and suspect a good portion will be headed to the deleted scene file. I love first drafts, Yay!

    Hope you and your family are all feeling better soon!

    • Actually your tidbit on the note is how I ended up losing days from my timeline! And I have a few of those notes: Why can’t she go rescue this other character? What bad thing prevents her from leaving? Add something that advances the plot here…

  13. Pantsing the outline! I love it.

  14. Pantsing the outline. LOL! Plotters will love it.

  15. You might actually end up enjoying the outlining process and do it for all your books!

  16. Congrats on the book signing, and for making yourself a spreadsheet and outlining. Wow. You are ambitious!

  17. I need an outline. I can’t write a novel without one.

    I love the cover of The Ancient.

  18. Oh I have tried to outline SO MANY TIMES and it never works. I did it a little bit for this one I’m working on now, but it was so loose it can’t really be called an outline lol. But I am super pumped for this project, so that’s a good thing! 🙂

  19. If you’re happy dropping all that writing, that’s all that matters.

    I like your tattoo giveaways.

  20. As a plotter, I have some advice for you. At the beginning, outline enough so you know where you want the book to end up and have basic ideas for progressions that will get your characters there. Then do heavy outlining for the first 5 or so chapters. As you write, you’ll find that new ideas will come to you about different paths to take to the ending. So after writing the first 5 chapters, then do heavy outlining for the next five. Never be afraid to make complete changes to your original ideas because the new ones will usually be better thought-out and more interesting. (At least, that way works for me!) Good luck, and I hope you and your family feel better soon!

  21. Good luck with everything and have fun at the book signing! I do love outlining. I usually dwell on the idea and when I have enough scenes in my head I start writing them down in chronological order. Usually new scenes will pop up as I’m doing this to bridge the gaps between what I already have planned. Sometimes the outlines change, but usually they stay pretty much the same for me.

  22. I’ve never tried an outline so complicated, but then you’re stories have so many levels and worlds to create- I trust you have the sort of complex brain it takes to figure that out.

    I outline, but it’s more like a huge synopsis scribbled into a spiral notebook.

  23. Ooh, your book signing sounds so fun! Wish I lived in Boise so I could be there.

    I’m a total pantser, although I have tried to do outlines, but then I start to pants my outlines too. I’ve thought about getting Schrivener though and thought it might help me become more organized. Maybe that’s something you’d be interested in…

    As far as swag, I was “at” a Twitter launch party last week and won a couple signed books, an autographed tote, and something else (can’t remember what it was) but I’m super excited to get the stuff in the mail. 🙂

    Good luck at your book signing! 🙂

  24. Loni, you are on a roll girl. I’m excited for your book signing (how cool by the way!) and it looks like you’ve put a lot of time, energy and hard work into all this so you deserve it. Awesome idea with the coins, but I’d definitely do that with the Ninier series. AND you’re coming out with a Lust book (as part of a collaborative 7 sins series), right? Stop trying to make the rest of us look so lazy!! 😉

    Congrats on everything, though. You’re doing great!

  25. […] from last to first. I need to get writing on that, but my mind won’t stop thinking about Isto. […]

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