If you guessed C, All of the Above, you are correct! Reward yourself with a Girl Scout cookie.
As you know, I’ve reworked the outline for the Robin Hood/Maid Marian story a dozen times in the last eight weeks. I’d work at it from one angle, thinking I finally had it, but then after a few days I’d realise something was missing. I’d shift, trying to catch that string of thought, and I’d lose whatever I had going for me in the first version. And etc.
The last outline came closest to being correct, but it still felt like there was an aspect of the story just out of reach that I wasn’t capturing. Saturday, I talked to my dad about it and (trying not to give away spoilers here) we came to a realisation about the midpoint of the novel.
Once I realised that, I suddenly understood how Marian and Robin’s stories work together. He starts out as more important in the beginning of the novel, and her story gains importance. At that crucial midpoint, things swap so her story is the prominent one that ends the novel.
I grabbed a piece of paper and drew two arrows in an X across the page, with a box in the middle to symbolise the midpoint. And that’s when I realised my plot is a Union Jack.
So, the two lines of the saltire are Robin and Marian. They represent the most visible parts of the plot of book one. He starts in the top left corner and goes down, she starts in the bottom left corner and goes up. They cross at the midpoint that I’m still not giving away.
The horizontal line of St. George’s Cross is the political stuff going on in the background. The characters won’t be aware of much of it until the end, but having it on the outline means I know what’s going on and what kinds of things need to be foreshadowed.
The vertical line of St. George’s Cross is the backstory for the relationship between Robin and Marian. Most of it is history that won’t be displayed or even talked about in the book, but again, it’s helpful to me to have it on the page.
The coloring, I admit, was extra. I could have just drawn the lines and written the plot points down. But honestly, once you’ve drawn a Union Jack, you pretty much have to color it in. And I realise I messed up the counterchange on the saltire–the red stripe is slightly not right–but I didn’t really sit down and plan or research this, so I think I did a pretty good job for an on-the-fly job.
More importantly, I have a much more solid grasp of what’s happening in my novel. All those times I felt like I was missing stuff? It’s because I was only writing one stripe of the story, instead of all four. Now that I have them all written down, I should be able to weave them together into an interesting novel.