A Peak Inside the Story: R+B


You got it (or in case you missed the title and the picture ha): I’m featuring R+B on the blog today! This story still doesn’t have a name. Lovely.  Is it just me or is that one of the hardest parts? The silly TITLE. So for now, let’s call this work R+B – or Rob.


My inspiration for this story comes from a couple different places.

I read Reedeeming Love by Francine Rivers and really enjoyed the Biblical story retelling. I believe the story the author drew from was fairly vague so she had a lot of fun with the details.  Her romantic plot line…..GAAAHH   The  understanding guy.  The lost girl.  The details.  The hints.  My favorite love story by far.

And – what I love about Rivers’ writing so far – she fits God into her stories with ease, making it sound completely natural and not preachy.  So why not write my own retelling drawing from these details?

The history. The exact time period keeps changing, but I love the vintage style.  I love the old-fashioned romance.  My notes for Rob consist of Alaskan census information during the 1930s and major events in Alaskan history.  Not my favorite history topics but interesting nonetheless!

I wanted to write something new.  Something different.  My repertoire lacks a  villainless story.  Yes, there are characters against my main characters, but no big baddie with henchmen and scary entraces.

I’ve never written a story about some one’s life without adding a huge villain, so something new will be learning to keep it interesting without fight scenes (except maybe an occasional brawl with the main guy *cough cough*).


Ruth Holmes is far too young to be a widow.   When her grieving mother-in-law Mara announces she’s traveling back to her hometown, it doesn’t make life easier. Following Mara into the Alaskan wilderness, Ruth must learn how to survive in a town with a surplus of rough trackers and miners where the only gentleness is in the peaceful stream flowing beside her tent.  

Born and raised in a cabin outside a growing Alaskan town, Harrison Boaz’s life changes when he earns a share of his father’s farm land.  He soon discovers this new business to drain his freedom and squash his mountain adventures out of existence. Fighting the tug of the wilderness, Harrison struggles to fulfill his duty of keeping the family business strong.


The starring lady in Rob is Ruth Holmes. She looks a little murderous upset in this picture but still resembles Ruth slightly.

She’s young, stubborn, slow to seek friendships, and perhaps – with what few friends she has-  loyal to a fault.  And VERY underdeveloped…


Harrison Boaz:  gentle and quiet, yet adventurous.  Also,  he may (hopefully!) have his own POV in a couple chapters.


This picture from Pinterest is my original inspiration for what Ruth and Harrison look like. Especially the red nails and lipstick and the peacefulness.




The rest of the cast is a little rough right now…but these three have definitely made their way into the story: a nosy businessman from out of town, a girl with a talent for trouble, and a not-so-wise mentor.

PicMonkey Collage5.jpg



wilderness.  animal tracks.  mud.  coffee on the stove.  cinnamon.   freshly cut crops.  white tents.  dust-covered faces.  dogs.  cold streams.  warm fires. 


Rob is in the DRAFT 1 stage right now.  After plotting, I gave in and created a scene list so I could (hopefully) eliminate some wasted time staring at my computer screen, thinking of what to write next.

Goal words:  75,000ish
Genre:  Romance, Christian

I’d like to push up the goal words once the first draft is done, but for now 75K is longer than any previous story I’ve written.


GUYS.  I can’t wait to write a romance.  Writing the scenes that are SO ANNOYING to read. You know the ones – where the couple is so amazingly close to looking at each other and then…..they don’t.  It makes the end so much more fulfilling.  Unless it’s one of those stories that ends with the main character dying *wink wink*

Also, the different plot lines.  I have several lines that will be so fun to intertwine so the focus isn’t completely on the two main characters.  Throw some politics and craziness in there to mix things up.

Annndd there’s Rob!  Messy and thrown-together with underdeveloped characters, but I’m excited!

What is your current story about?  What stage are you in: plotting, drafting, editing?



How I’m Plotting 

Plotting generally doesn’t work for me.   Extensive, scene-by-scene outlines make me lose excitement after plannin so many “boring” scenes.  AKA scenes that don’t involve fighting or romance.  But not plotting ends in me never starting because I never know where to start.

With the only novel I’ve finished – The Dove of Hope – I had a writing buddy that chatted with me daily so we kept each other writing without outlines to guide us. (SIDE NOTE: WRITING BUDDIES ARE AMazInG) We talked about endings and shared excerpts, but that was the extent of our plotting.

Without a friend to write with, I have a million unfinished projects.

When starting my most recent project, I decided to try a mixture of two plotting techniques – the zero plot method and the snowflake method.

To start off, an overview!

The Zero Plot Method

This method involves writing a quick draft without any details.  You describe the main events that happen with any important details and leave out the rest to fill in in Draft 1.  For example, here is part of my zero plot for the the first chapter or two for R&B, my current project.

R, a young widow, follows her mother-in-law M to her home town in Alaska after World War I. She is forced to sell her wedding ring in order to pay for room and food during the first few weeks. They come into town and discover it ridden with miners and railway workers after the Treadmill Mine incident the year before. In new surroundings, R is forced to quickly find a job, despite the abundance of workers, in order to open L’s broken-down shop. She runs into B, a handsome farmer, and M remarks how much he looks like O’s husband.  

Ignoring how rough it sounds – gotta love first/zero drafts – I wrote the main events in present tense to quickly get the words on paper. Try not to think too much about it and write through the whole story.

The Snowflake Method

This method takes plotting a little slower, leading up to a summary that basically is a zero draft.  I found the snowflake method on this site.  It takes you step by step, starting with a one-sentence summary:

A young widow struggles to open a shop in a growing Alaskan town while falling for a rich man.

You go on to create a quick one paragraph summary about each character in your novel. Next, you expand your one-sentence plot summary into a full fledged paragraph with characters and conflicts.

You continue to expand each sentence of the character and novel summaries into full paragraphs until you have a few pages of each. At this point, you have a zero draft and pages of character arc information.

The website leads you into creating a spreadsheet to lay out each scene from your summaries before writing the first draft.  I prefer not to do this step.  I also don’t expand the character summaries beyond one paragraph.  Once I go much farther past these steps, I lose inspiration and start drowning in the details.

Merging the Two

By the time I finished using these two methods (following the first steps of the snowflake method and jumping to the zero draft), I had created the following for my novel in a couple hours:

  • A list of major characters
  • A full paragraph description of each character’s goals, motivations, and a brief plot line.
  • A one-sentence book summary.
  • A full paragraph book summary with each major conflict and the ending.
  • A 3 page “zero draft” of my novel with major scenes involving the main characters.

What I didn’t create from the methods:

  • Full page character descriptions with small details like dislikes, favorites, physical descriptions, and backgrounds.
  • A spreadsheet of in-depth scene descriptions.

If you’ve read my other posts, you know that my favorite part of writing is creating characters.  That’s where the planning stops for me. I have a general view of what I want the character to be like but details don’t come out until I’m writing the first draft.  Once in the middle of writing, I create a more in-depth description of each character once I get a feel for them.

Remember, your plotting doesn’t have to be pretty either…this may or may not be a scene idea in my zero draft:

He has to find R is some amazing, exciting way and he FINALLY professes his love to her. Kisses may occur mwahaha

Then you start pounding out the words, filling in scenes here and there and most likely changing your outline as you go.

I’m excited to put these methods to use in all my unfinished projects!

How do you plot?  Or do you prefer to jump in without outlines?


Also, forgot last post, but I have a new blog design! I know…this is not the first time I’ve changed it.  But oh well!  🙂