The Novel Approach


In the creative writing class I’m teaching, I start off by emphasizing how important it is to know how the story is going to go before you start writing. We map out the Triggering Event, the Turning Points, and try to bring it all to a Tidy Logical Conclusion in the end. We do outlines and idea maps and lists and little pictures. Because it’s a lot easier to work the plot kinks out of 40 pages of outlines than out of 400 pages of text, and besides, if things change while you’re doing the actual writing—and they will—nobody’s forcing you to stick to the letter of the original plan.

But the truth is, even with an outline, and especially with a multi-book story arc, sometimes you just don’t know.

The Affair of the Porcelain Dog, the first of my series set in Victorian London, was a kind…

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