Click on over to Soul Mate Publishing and check out my post about how to write a novel using, what I call, The Building method. This technique builds inspiration upon inspiration, like a house, from the ground up.
Below is the example of how I used the technique for one of my young adult novels, Silverweed: A supernatural fairy tale.
Foundation: Little Red Riding Hood/werewolves/superstitions
Framing: Silverweed Muffins: Short Story
Exterior: I did something both fun and challenging for the outline. I condensed the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood down to 20 sentences. These 20 sentences became my chapter titles. So when I began to write, these were also my inspiration for the story. Below are the first ten chapter titles:
Chapter 1: Once Upon A Time
Chapter 2: There Was A Dear Little Girl
Chapter 3: Take These Goodies To Your Grandmother
Chapter 4: I Will Be Careful
Chapter 5: Half A League From The Village
Chapter 6: “Good Day,” Said The Wolf
Chapter 7: I Must Act Craftily So I Can Catch Both
Chapter 8: Little Red Drifted From The Path
Chapter 9: The Wolf Knocked At The Door
Chapter 10: He Devoured Her
Interior and Final Walkthrough : Silverweed a Supernatural Fairy Tale
Love and Laughter,
Z for Zachariah
Novel (1974): Written by Robert C. O’Brien
Movie (2015): Screenplay by Nissar Modi directed by Craig Zobel
The set up:
Our group (women ages 22-48) pick a book that has been made into a movie. We read the book and then get together for thematic food, to discuss the book, and then to watch the movie.
On the menu:
Each of us are to bring either a drink, dessert and/or appetizer and it is fun to use the story for inspiration. Below is what we ended up with this month.
Appetizers: mini chicken and waffles, hummus with pita chips, deviled eggs (2 people brought these)
Drinks: Red Rose wine, Pinot Noir, and Flip Flop wine
Dessert: Birthday Cake
Quick Book/Movie Summary:
Book (From Amazon): Ann Burden is sixteen years old and completely alone. The world as she once knew it is gone, ravaged by a nuclear war that has taken everyone from her. Ann soon realizes there may be worse things than being the last person on Earth.
Movie (From IMDB): In the wake of a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, two men and a young woman find themselves in an emotionally charged love triangle as the last known survivors.
Thoughts about the Book:
A couple of us thought the story had a good build up to suspenseful scenes.
We all agreed that it was slow at times with the mundane work of the fields and milking cows and gathering eggs and cooking and working on a tractor and gas pumps … but somehow it still ended up being a quick read.
We all felt that there were way too many conveniences – like the fully stocked store, the cane, her taking a class in school that taught her how to care for a person when they were sick.
I was not happy with the dog situation. I did like the overall idea and plot of the book.
I felt deceived as far as Edward’s sudden attitude. But others in the group pointed out places that did support the change. There was also talk of unreliable narrator because it was all from the girl’s point of view (her diary) and perhaps she was the crazy one …
The ending was pretty bad and so we came up with 4 alternate endings (If you haven’t read the book you might want to skip this part.)
She shoots him and is alone again in the valley as it was, reclaiming her house. The last line – There are worse things than being the last person on earth.
He kills her. The last line – After reading this journal, I guess you can call me Z for Zachariah. (Bringing that around full circle.)
Gone Girl Ending – She stays with him and they try to make it work.
The Truman Show Ending – She’s actually on a reality show. She wins because she escapes.
Thoughts about the Movie:
We all agreed it was really really Boring. This was a completely different story than the book. And that would have been fine if it had been a good story. The book was YA – the movie was not. There was really no plot. There was no mention as to why the title was Z for Zachariah.
I did like how the setting from the book came to life. I really wish I could have watched the movie according to the book.
Using his notes, Robert C. O’Brien’s wife and daughter actually wrote the book after his death.
The Girly Discussions:
The movie would have only received one wine glass but we all agreed to give it half a glass more because of Chris Pine’s blue eyes. Cheers!
We thought the casting of Margot Robbie was a little off. Since we read the book first and knew the main character Ann was 16 we thought Robbie was too old. I was shocked that she was the same actress from The Wolf of Wall Street and Focus. There were some thoughts about how they really had to change her look so she could fit the part.
The Group’s Average ratings:
The bottom line:
These are two different stories. So much so I really can’t compare them. But individually, I liked the story from the book a lot more than the story from the movie. But they did have one thing in common – they both had disappointing endings.
Read the book, skip the move.
Next month’s Book and Movie:
Love and Laughter,
Here’s my TBT short story – I’m really not sure when I wrote it (before 2010) and it wasn’t one that was inspired by a classic fairy tale but is my own fairy tale.
The Kingdom of Pillars
by Dorlana Vann
“I didn’t do anything!”
“Do you want father’s wings to be taken off? Is that what you want? You march yourself right back there.”
I stared at my sister, all blue and getting bluer by the minute. If we would’ve been having this conversation a couple of months earlier, I might have turned my back to her and aired her out. Instead, I smiled.
“What are you up to, Rose?” she growled.
“I understand everything now. I’m happy and miserable at the same time.” I sighed and sat down on a buttercup. “I even understand love and how it can fill your heart and break it at the same time.”
“You did go to the Kingdom of Pillars, right?” Indigo glared at me.
“I didn’t have a choice. Remember? Guards with sticks and mean words.”
“Hmmm… Are you telling me you fell in love in there? With what? Your reflection?”
“It is a lovely sight, isn’t it? But no, you see, I was once like you, only able to see outer beauty.”
“Is that so?” she said. “Let me get this straight. You think the Kingdom of Pillars is beautiful … or is the King?” I could see her thinking herself into a small gag and look of distaste.
“When I’d first arrived, I looked at them the same way everyone does. It’s like a line has been drawn between the lands. One side, our side, is light and green. You make one tiny step and the world becomes scary and dark. And I was scared.”
Indigo looked a wee bit uncomfortable, almost guilty, so I kept going.
“I understand why father picked me to go instead of you. You were already betrothed to Emerald before you were born. He had no choice but to send me. It wasn’t your fault I was born second. Always second. I understand that a princess had to be sent in order to bring peace. Besides, if I wouldn’t have gone, the curse might not have been broken.”
“Wait a minute.” She smoothed her long, sparkly blue hair behind her ears. “You’re telling me that you broke the five thousand-year-old curse?”
“It was the most wonderful sight in the whole entire world. First, let me tell you what happened in the beginning, when I arrived in the Kingdom of Pillars.”
Indigo arched her eyebrow as she sat down in the morning dew.
“I was a bit grossed out when I first met the King. You know how Pillars look, right? Kind of round and prickly-looking. Those black and yellow spots and rings aren’t very flattering either. Oh, dandy me, he crawled so slowly … on the ground. He had tiny little legs and those black little dot eyes. He was no where near as hideously handsome as Emerald.”
Indigo had been staring at me with curiosity and a growing grin, but at this, she looked down.
“I suppose I wasn’t the best guest,” I continued. “But I was in shock, you know, out of my element. Could you blame me? I was surrounded by these … grubs. Not to mention, I felt like my own family had deserted and sacrificed—”
She shot me a look. “Now you’re just being dramatic.”
“Really? My husband had sixteen legs.”
“You just told me you thought he was beautiful,” she said smugly.
“Well, maybe at first, I didn’t. I hated him, the place, you …”
Indigo crossed her arms.
“The first night I did nothing but sulk and refuse anything offered to me. Really now, how could I eat that dull food? Everything was already half dead, like winter had already arrived. It seemed strange to eat and live in such sadness. That was how I felt; alone and sad as I sat there and watched them eat and eat in the madness of the day. King would look at me every once in a while and ask if I was okay. I hate to say, but I turned my back to him and fluttered my wings.
“He kept asking, again and again, so I let him have it. I told him exactly what I thought about him and his ugly kingdom. I hurt his feelings, and I was glad … until he said, ‘I’m sorry, my Queen. I will not bother you again. Even though your presence makes this gloomy world bright, you are free to leave.”
“So you did?” Indigo jumped up and put her hands on her hips. “You came back home! How could you, Rose?”
“But I didn’t!” I smiled. “At that very moment, I felt special. More special than I had ever felt in your shadow. Indigo this, and Indigo that. I was Queen, no longer a princess.” I wrapped my arms around myself and flew into the air, twirling around as I did.
“Get down here, Rose,” she shouted.
“Come with me,” I said. “You have to see.”
She sluggishly stood, but a second later she was beside me, and we flew through our forest.
“Oh … he lavished me,” I continued. “He was kind and made me feel like I was the most important creature in the world. He brought me flowers and dew drops and honey. The food didn’t taste as dull as it looked, it was fine. Everything was fine.”
“Hmmm … so then, if it is such paradise, why are you here?”
“One day he told me not to worry, that he would be sleeping for a couple of days. He said the kingdom did this every couple of months. Still, when it happened, I grew scared and cried and cried over him.”
“You cried because he went to sleep?”
“No, not just asleep; it was bizarre. They were all wrapped in these web-like cases.” I tried to explain it with my hands. “I didn’t think he could breathe in there. Something was wrong. I thought he was dying, so I sprinkled my life-dust on him.”
Indigo’s mouth grew into a giant circle and she stopped mid-air. “You used your personal dust on him? Rose, you know you can’t use it on yourself any longer! If something happens to you—”
I held up my hand. I understood the consequences. “It doesn’t matter. The most amazing thing happened. His prison started coming apart, and the most beautiful, amazing winged creature emerged. It was my King! He had huge double-like wings, oh so much bigger than any fairies. So many colors! Not just one, like ours. He was bright yellow and white and orange.” I put my hands to my face. “And then, and then… they all emerged. The entire kingdom, all so colorful and beautiful, floated into the air. They reminded me of buttercups, daisies, and roses, being blown by the wind. Even the dark, gloomy clouds drifted away and the sun began to shine.”
Indigo’s face froze with an expression of bewilderment. Then she said, “I didn’t think it was true. I had heard that they used to be beautiful creatures before one of us cast a spell.”
I closed my eyes as my thoughts turned bittersweet. “We played and flew and chased for days on end. Even when the sun set the splendor of the colors was almost more than one could bear. But then …” I grabbed her hand and flew faster to my destination.
“What?” She asked, letting me drag her through the air. “What happened? Why do you look so sad? If it was so wonderful, why did you come back?”
I choked back a cry with a smile as I looked at my sister who seemed genuinely concerned. “Like snowflakes they all slowly began to return to the earth. I went to the king, who balanced on a leaf barely able to move. I asked what was happening.” I held my hands to my heart as I remembered his words. “He told me not to worry, that I had broken the curse. That he and his kingdom owed everything to me and my sacrifice. My little fairy dust did all of that. I went to give more, and he told me he didn’t need it. He said he had finally been able to live out his cycle and now it was time for them to move on—to die. They had been trapped and unable to evolve for thousands of years.”
Indigo gently pulled free to wipe her eyes. “That is so sad,” she said.
“The fluttering of their wings quietly died away. The last words my king said to me were, ‘Long live Queen Rose.’” I pointed down to the valley below. “Look! Can you see them?”
Indigo sucked in a quick breath. “I thought you said they all died.”
“They,” I said looking at my adopted children, “are the next generation. A generation that will live, fly, and die like they are suppose to. This is why I came back to see you one last time; I needed to tell you, to tell father, that the feud between the two lands is truly over. And from now on, my home is no longer to be called the Kingdom of Pillars, but the protected Land of the Butterflies.”
“Oh, boy,” Haley said, dropping her head back down. Bits and pieces of the night before came back to her, more in emotion than in actual events. She knew she had come home with some strange guy, and by her nakedness, they had become much acquainted.
Remorse, guilt, and pure shame fought to be in front. Why the hell had she listened to Maximilian? What had ever possessed her to think that she could seduce someone? But, wait a minute . . . Apparently, that was exactly what she’d done! She had played the snowman.
She peeked back under the cover. Huge score for a snowman, any man on the prowl, actually. Not even the ultra-sexy Travis had managed to bed her on the first date. Not that she hadn’t wanted to, but she had self-respect. Well, she used to.
Where was this guy anyway, this stranger she had seduced? She sat up and listened for any type of sound. Nothing. The classy décor, the showroom-clean living room in creams, maroons, and dark browns didn’t fit her memory of the unkempt guy. A beard! He had a beard and wore sloppy clothes. She had slept with a guy with a hairy face. Gross.
Haley had to make her escape now, leave before the guy showed his ugly face. She sat up slowly, eyeing her purse, a bottle of ibuprofen, and a glass of water on the table next to the couch. She drank some water and got a pill down.
As she finished off the water, she noticed her clothes in a messy pile at the other end of the couch. One last step to complete the snowman experiment—she had to leave something—even though she really didn’t think she’d learned a thing.
The front door handle jangled, and then the door opened, and the guy from the night before entered. Haley’s chance to escape quietly and quickly with dignity, gone.
The man carried a bag and a couple of Styrofoam coffee cups that probably came from a gas station. His hair wasn’t as long as Haley had remembered, but she hadn’t been wrong about the beard. He looked lean, but not too skinny, and carried himself with confidence. “You’re awake,” he said, the tone of his voice faintly bringing back conversations from the night before. “I figured you would sleep till noon.”
“Hi.” Haley forced a smiled.
He shifted the coffee cups and the bag into one hand, held out his right hand and said, “Larry . . . Larry White.”
His eyes caught her off-guard. They were deep and dark and seemed to smile. And his face was the opposite of ugly.
She shook his hand and nodded, remembering. “I’m Haley Monroe.”
“Like the bombshell.”
“Right.” She hadn’t given the Marilyn Monroe spiel since she was, like, fifteen. Super.
He let go of her hand and shifted the cups around. “In case you don’t remember, nothing happened last night. Between us, that is.”
Despite the fact that she hadn’t scored like a gifted snowman, she had the urge to run the back of her hand across her forehead and say Woo-wee! Holy crap, I’ve never been so relieved in all my life! Instead, she said, “Oh. But then why . . .” She glanced down at herself and then back up at his smile.
“Last night I went to the kitchen, and by the time I got back, ta-da. Say, are you hungry? I have donuts.”
Haley grimaced over the food and over how he’d said everything in the same tone of voice, like one was no more humiliating than the other.
The Trouble with Snowmen (Book 1 Trouble with Men) by Dorlana Vann
Snowmen drift into your life like they were sent from above. The relationship is great, rolls right along and builds. Everything seems perfect … until a little heat is introduced. Then they melt, leaving only their hat, their scarf, something to remind their victims of what they’d lost.
Urban cowgirl Haley Monroe is told that the fabulously hot guy who just dumped her was a snowman. Her friend, Maximilian, convinces her that the only way she’ll ever stop being played by snowmen is to become one. It takes a lot of drinks to work up the nerve, but Haley gets her sexy on and goes on the prowl.
Famous horror author Larry White drops everything to attend a midnight séance at Maximilian’s apartment where he meets Haley. By the way she’s dressed—and just propositioned him—he assumes she’s a hooker. Larry can’t pass up the chance to get inside her head, especially since prostitution is the character’s occupation in his next book.
After spending the weekend together, unexpected sparks surprise both Haley and Larry. The trouble is Haley is dead-set on snowmanning the unkempt “starving artist” she met at the séance, and Larry doesn’t think he could have a real relationship with a woman with a past, so they go their separate ways.
The real fun begins when they meet again and find out neither one of them were who they thought they were. Can they reignite the flame? Or will they have a snowman’s chance in hell?