This has been very much so a crash course … even more so than expected! I’ve done about a quarter of the posts about this as I expected to (but, to be fair, I intended to start in September and then stuff happened … blog parties, deciding to publish a book I had no intention of even finishing, etc.), and I’m not quite as well-prepared as I’d like to be with NaNoWriMo coming in less than a week.
Yesterday my copy of Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland finally arrived! It’s absolutely beautiful. 🙂
It’s also full of amazing advice. I’m already about halfway through it. And everything I read makes me feel more guilty.
Fifty-page outlines (although this was for a 100,000-word-long novel).
Months upon months of intensive structuring.
Knowing everything (and I mean everything) about your book before you start writing.
The author (K.M. Weiland) notes that her methods aren’t for everyone; however, I must agree with her on one point; it would be fantastic to have a fifty-page outline … or even a twenty-five-page outline!
The more I read about how helpful these outlines are, how halfway through the book, you won’t be fixing a plot hole, how it simplifies the revising process, how it gives you more time for creativity as you don’t need to bother with structure because you’ve already got it down, the more attracted I am to the idea.
Well, I don’t have time to come up with a complete outline of any great length, but I’m definitely going to organize my notes the best I can!
In Outlining Your Novel, there are many helpful tips for getting your story together before you actually begin writing. One of the best ideas (in my opinion) is to write a review of your own book, a glowing review, a review by a reader who totally gets everything you want to express in your story and LOVES IT. This gives you a clear something to go for.
So, I sat down and wrote a review of At Her Fingertips. I wrote it from the perspective of, oh, a sixteen-year-old girl who loves reading and … archery. (Yep, that was totally random …) She’s also a huge fan of historical fiction, particularly that set during the Victorian era and including romantic elements and Christianity, of course. And, of course, she gets everything I want to express in my book perfectly.
She’s read the first two book in The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy and enjoyed them, but she loves At Her Fingertips best of all, as you’ll see in her glowing review which goes as follows. (It ended up being long, by the way.)
I just finished reading Kellyn Roth’s At Her Fingertips, and I must say … it was an amazing story! I bought as soon as it came out after loving The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective, but this was the best of the series so far!!!
At Her Fingertips is the story of Alice Knight, an upper class Victorian young lady who is about to come out into polite society. At seventeen, Alice is a little different than the eight-year-old we all learned to know and love. She’s a bit more critical than in The Dressmaker’s Secret, her simple view of the world gone, but we still see the old Alice there, as intense, independent, sensible, and overall charming as always. She’s the kind of character you like, though lazy people like me sure wouldn’t want her as a boss! When Alice says, “Go!” she doesn’t mean tomorrow. She means NOW in big, bold letters.
At the start of the book, I was a bit worried for Alice. I’ve always loved how she has such a strong faith in God. As a young adult, though, she has some hesitations in her faith. For instance, she deliberately ignores what the Holy Spirit is plainly telling her for a lot of the book. She tries to do what she thinks is the right thing, yet she keeps getting distracted. As I said before, Alice is not the kind of girl who sits around and thinks. She acts! And sometimes she forgets to do a little thinking first – or a little praying, though more accurately a little listening would be in order! She prays a lot; she just doesn’t wait for an answer.
But we all forgive her that, because, if anything, Alice is a human, and who doesn’t love a human? And I know God knows that, and I believe that if we see Alice again, God will still be working with her to weed out that “I’m too busy doing whatever I think You want me to do to listen right now, God!” tendency.
I don’t want to give away spoilers, but I will say that Alice definitely ends up at a good place in her relationship with God. But, of course, we all know Miss Roth will have a happy ending (even if it’s a bit bittersweet sometimes).
The odd thing about Alice (and I think it’s realistic, too!) is that when she does stop and think (or listen, or however you want to put it), she ends up with an interesting thought, or a new way to help someone, or a new battle plan (that is actually a good one!).
I think my favorite thing to read about in At Her Fingertips was Alice’s art. She lives large (as you probably already guessed), so it’s odd and enchanting to see (well, read about, but it feels like seeing) her sketch and paint the little details when we know she’s a big-picture thinker. You can tell from Miss Roth’s descriptions that she takes time to capture each detail of the scene, whatever that may be. You can feel Alice’s talent tumbling off the pages. That scene where she absent-mindedly sketches you-know-who (read the book!) is so fantastic (I knew right then who she was gonna end up with, though she obviously wasn’t thinking about it herself or even considering his appearance … but more on that later). Also, another great way to fit in a description of a character without boring the readers. 😉
Now, we’ve gone on enough about Alice (though honestly I could write another 500 words on her, telling you about her talents – such as dancing – and the things she’s not good at – such as music of any kind (that was a pretty funny, by the way!) – and how smart she is in her own way … I’d better stop now! As I’ve said before, you can read the book yourself to find out the rest!).
Kirk … oh, Kirk. It was amazing (and I mean amazing!) to see Alice and him together as young adults. They always had the best adventures together, and they still do. That scene with the creek … I started laughing and my whole family (I was reading it in the car on a road trip) stared at me. 😛 They have a sweet relationship.
Then there’s Gibson. He makes me angry. Leading Alice on like that … Unbelievable. Die, Gibson. Well … don’t die. But … suffer great consequences!
Peter Strauss was a sweetheart. ❤ He was always there when he was needed, and he knew when to keep his mouth shut when advice would have been scorned or ignored. It was also interesting how he described his writerly processes. Not being a writer, I don’t know if he was joking or not (though I suspect there wouldn’t be so much talk about writer’s block if it wasn’t pretty bad, and I suppose it would make sense that characters would sometimes have minds of their own). Peter and Alice’s talks, too … wow. Perfect.
I loved how Alice didn’t know (and didn’t want to know) what Peter was talking about half the time when he was quoting Shakespeare and stuff like that. And the thing with Madame Merle … wow, that was hilarious! I mean, not everyone would get it (most people haven’t probably read A Portrait of a Lady), but I loved it. I wonder if Peter ever tells Alice what it means, or will she go on illustrating forever under that name? I guess I’ll have to wait for the next book, assuming Alice is in it.
It was nice to see more of Cassie, or should we say Lady Mary? *giggles because DOWNTON ABBEY* She was a super supportive friend, and it’s nice to see that she’s en route to her own happily-ever-after even if she isn’t quite there yet. (Spin-off? Spin-off!?!)
Anyway, before I go on to something else, I’ll just say that every single one of the characters had a super dynamic relationship with each other. I love how they all interact. It’s interesting, realistic, and sometimes humorous (or adorable).
The plot … well, let’s say it wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it’d be a pretty straightforward romance (which was actually not what I wanted; I was hoping there’d be a twist other than the usual woes of separated lovers or whatever) … Alice would meet Kirk, they’d fall in love, Alice would have to struggle against society to be with him, etc. before she finally decided to marry Kirk (despite the social pressure, her parents’ protestations, and everything else that would hinder such a ridiculous display of class-jumping as that).
Well, was I wrong! This wasn’t a story about Alice and Kirk’s romance. In fact, it wasn’t so much a story of Alice and her romance with anyone. It was about Alice choosing to do the right thing. It was about Alice not following her heart or her head or what she thought was right or anything else, but following God, wherever that may be and whenever He wanted her to go there.
In the end, I was very happy, which, considering the frame of mind I started reading it in, was strange. Without leaving the bounds of her era, Miss Roth delivered Alice a happily-ever-after free of the usual cheesy ‘love conquers all’ clichés where a lady can marry a former stable boy and get away with it unhindered (just because they’re in love …? Oh please …). Why, Elinor had to suffer for marrying a perfectly respectable curate in Sense and Sensibility … sorta. 😉
The description was amazing. It made everything feel real. You got an amazingly sharp mental image which you can taste, feel, smell, and hear. It wasn’t too much, either, which was nice. She tended to go on describing stuff just a wee bit too long in The Dressmaker’s Secret, so she’s obviously sharpened her skills.
Favorite quote: “In America, we have Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans, and goodness knows how many others. The more the merrier is an American idea, and I’m afraid it spreads into everything. Don’t they know it’s all about Jesus?” ((I just made this up, and I don’t know if it’ll go in the novel, so …)):
Overall, this novel is just the right mixture of dramatic, hopeful, happy, humorous, sweet, meaningful, and exciting. I’d recommend it to anyone from the age of twelveish up. I can’t wait for Book 4!
What do you think?
(And, no, that isn’t me bragging about a book I haven’t even written. It’s a review from an imaginary person about a book that’s never been written. There’s a difference.)
That’s all I’ve got to say today, so I’ll publish this post! Tomorrow or Friday I’ll be posting (though I’m not sure what on), and then there’ll be one last post Monday before NaNoWriMo strikes! During November, just so you know, I’ll only be posting once a week to give you a quick update. 🙂