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I, Margaret the Magnificent, will now perform the amazing, death-defying act of writing three novel outlines simultaneously before your very eyes. If my attention slips, if I falter, my brains will begin to leak from my ears, but I scoff in the face of danger and dive into the challenge without the least tremble. See how steady my hands are as they pound against the keyboard, how my eyes crinkle with concentration, how my teeth grit as I attempt this task? Watch carefully as the scenes bloom under your very eyes...

Okay, not really, but that's how it feels at times. I am doing something I have never done before.

I've written, edited, and prepared three different novels, I've even actively written two WIPs at the same time, but I have never tried to wrap my mind around three different worlds simultaneously.

You nod your heads sagely and say that this explains the sudden silence on my writing blog. You might even wonder if you can see a hint of red behind these black letters as blood vessels pop in my forehead, but I swear I have a logical explanation for my latest insanity.

If you recall, I mentioned I was teaching a class on outlining. And you might also recall I mentioned a sudden inspiration out of nowhere.

These seemingly unrelated events are actually behind this situation I now balance precariously.

I've learned from the other classes I have taught that it helps students if I perform the same tasks they do, live and with possible hiccups. So I had planned to work on an idea for the class long before that little inspiration dropped in my lap.

Then, when I started on the fairytale example (to use a fairytale is part of the class), I started seeing double, one a true telling and one a modern retelling.

Since my students were welcome to do the same, a true telling or an adaptation, I went ahead and built both as examples. Not only that, but I specifically chose a fairytale that would challenge me to work on one aspect of my fiction writing I find weak--writing humor.

Then, round about week three of the class, the outline marathon begins on Forward Motion in preparation for the 10-day Labor of Love writing challenge I usually participate in but was not planning to this year. I couldn't very well leap ahead of the class and outline my new stories because it would encourage my students to do the same. So instead, I wrote only what I needed for the next lesson (5 scenes each) and pulled out that inspiration to get another 20 scenes.

And there I found myself outlining three stories. It happened almost without my conscious knowledge, or at least without my acceptance.

If you're curious as to what happens next, join the club. For the time being, I'm working on each of the outlines separately and with different levels of focus. During the outline marathon, I focused mainly on the inspired idea because of where we were in the class. Since then, I've worked on both of the class outlines (as well as starters for at least three additional outlines as extra examples in the class) and the modern-day retelling is winning at the moment, though the inspiration, Let Me Tell You All About Myself, is still the one with the most scenes with 20. The Princess in the Tower has sixteen, and The Laughing Farmer Boy stands at only 6.

Ideally, all three will be fleshed out in time for the big decision as to which gets written for NaNo. If, as I suspect, The Laughing Farmer Boy turns into a young YA or middle grade, it won't be long enough for NaNo. The Princess in the Tower is sure to be YA so between 50k and 60k most likely, while Let Me Tell You is a complicated mature novel that would best fit in women's fiction if it didn't focus on a male MC. What do you want to bet I do both the fairytale inspired ones? Sigh.
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Margaret McGaffey Fisk

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