Want to see the original Glamour in Glass outline and the synopsis with which we sold it?

Yesterday, I posted the Shades of Milk and Honey outline. Today, I have two things for you.

First, is the synopsis with which we sold Glamour in Glass. Now, I need to be clear that this was part of a two book deal and that even now when I’m selling a new book to a publisher with whom I have an established relationship, that I write a significantly more detailed synopsis.

In the reprieve after Napoleon abdicates, Jane and Vincent go to the continent for their honeymoon. While there, the deposed Emperor escapes his exile in Elba, throwing the continent into turmoil.  With no easy way back to England, they struggle to escape.

When Vincent is captured as a British spy, Jane realizes that their honeymoon had been a sham to give them reason to be in Europe.  He has been using a new technique to capture glamour folds in glass in order to send vital information back to England, where the court has great interest in the politcal unrest in the region. Jane is angry, not at the reason for going to Europe, but that Vincent had lied to her.”Had I know, I would have come willingly. Do I not love King and Country as much?”

Jane must use all the glamor at her disposal to rescue her husband from the prison.  In doing so, she creates a glamour in the glass to disguise herself. Inside, she finds that Vincent has been tortured and is in shockingly ill health.  As she helps him from the prison, he stumbles, causing her to drop the glass.  Their illusion broken, Jane and Vincent work together to flee, narrowly escaping to the coast, where they are returned safely to England.

From there, I had to expand it into an outline. So…

This is the original outline for Glamour in Glass. There are two things I want to call your attention to before you take a look at it.

First thing: People talk about outliners vs. discovery writers, as if there are only two ways of approaching writing. Outliners plan and then begin writing. Discovery writers (or pantsers) launch in and discover the novel as they go. I think it’s a spectrum. While I am more heavily on the outliner end of the spectrum, I also discovery write parts of the novel, too. For instance… there’s a chapter than consisted entirely of “Sailing!” I knew that I needed to get my characters from point A to Point B and that this was the job of the chapter. Within that, I just needed to make it interesting.

Other chapters have a more complicated job, by which I mean, they tie in to previous chapters and later chapters in ways that will cause the story to break if I get them wrong. Those often get more detailed outlines.

Notice that M Chastain’s family is NOWHERE in the outline. I discovered them while I was writing, and worked them into my plans later.

Second thing: You’ll see numbers below. Those aren’t chapter numbers. I often don’t figure out chapters breaks until I’m in the process of writing, because they exist to control pacing. For instance, Number 1 wound up being two chapters long. While 2 and 3 got rolled into the same chapter.

Here’s the email I sent to my editor with the outline when I turned it in.

Here’s my preliminary outline for “Glamour in Glass.”  Left to my own devices, I would start writing from this and fill in details, adjusting as I worked. I can see that there will likely be an additional chapter or two and a minor subplot, but until I get into it, I likely won’t know exactly what those are. I’m guessing this’ll come in around 80k.

As I researched I decided to move the main action from France to Belgium to take advantage of events leading up to Waterloo.  The border region, in particular, had strong tensions between the Bonapartists and the Royalists.  Binche is a border town on the route that Napoleon takes as he marches to Waterloo.  People living here would have been able to hear the gunfire during the battle.  Plus, it has a mask festival that’s been going on since the 1400s which provides some nice local color.

Overall, while you are reading the outline, the arc I’m looking at for Jane is that she’s struggling with in this book is her role as a wife vs. her role as a glamourist.

And now, the outline itself.

Glamour in Glass outline

  1.  Jane and Vincent at dinner with high society in a home where Vincent has been commissioned. They are still but recently wed and it is their first joint project. As the dinner continues, we meet the Prince Regent, who has made the commission. Discuss Napoleon’s abdication and the end of the war. Rumblings of Bonapartist’s who want to put his son on the throne. The prince shuts down the conversation as not being suitable for ladies. Dinner ends and the ladies exit to the drawing room. As they exit, the men immediately begin talking about the situation in France again.
  2. The conversation in the drawing room consists, as it always does, of gossip. One woman comments that she wishes she could do glamour like Jane can. When Jane says that it is a matter of practice, the woman replies that the doctor won’t allow her and Jane realizes that she is with child. This is shocking since the woman is unwed and Jane realizes that she’s talking to someone’s mistress. It causes her to reevaluate her position since the only person freely talking to her is also somewhat shunned and yet also has more social power than Jane does.
  3. The men reenter the drawing room, and have clearly been talking about the commissioned piece. Jane feels left out of the conversation and struggles with the fact that it is supposed to be a collaboration between Vincent and her.
  4.  Vincent suggests they go to France. He has a colleague, Mssr. Chastain, that he hasn’t seen since they studied together with Herr Scholes. Plus he and Jane haven’t had a honeymoon and it seems like an ideal time with Napoleon in exile.
  5. Sailing!
  6. Welcome to France! Meets Chastain.
  7. In their rooms, the maid drops something and apologizes in English. Jane is delighted that Chastian arranged for an English speaker. This is Anne the daughter of an Englishwoman who was left behind back in the French Revolutionary war. She offers to help Jane navigate the social differences.
  8. Gets idea for glamour in glass from prism. Can’t find Vincent to tell him about revelation initially. When she does find him, he is vague about where he has been.
  9. Social scene. Struck by how differently women are treated in France.
  10. Try fail cycle to tie off a simple glamour in glass. Tries an invisibility bubble, because the shape lends itself naturally to blown glass but it’s still a failure.
  11. Jane faints but isn’t doing glamour. Anne runs to fetch Vincent, who should have been in the lab, but isn’t. The doctor is called and realizes Jane is with child. She’s now unable to do glamour. Struggles with this disassociation from self identity. Will Vincent love her without her glamour? When he arrives, he is deeply apologetic for being away and delighted with the news.
  12. Work scene where she can only offer suggestions but not actually do any labor. Frustrating for both.
  13. There are hints that Vincent is keeping something secret from her. But he has much interest in her day, which mostly consists of conversations she has with Anne and other ladies so she tries to make the best of it, while feeling certain that he’s lost interest due to the pregnancy.
  14.  Takes bubble out into sunlight. Vincent comes looking for her and doesn’t see her. She realizes that the glamour in glass needs strong light to work.
  15. Napoleon comes out of exile. Subject of much conversation.
  16. Privately, Vincent tells Jane she must leave France. She points out that they are out of the line of Napoleon’s march and that she is not worried in the least. If Vincent feels free to stay and study, of course she will too. He finally confesses that he is there to spy for England. Someone in Chastain’s household is a Bonapartist and so Vincent must stay to keep an eye on things, but it means that they are in more danger if discovered than other Britons. Jane is extremely upset, not that her honeymoon has been co-opted but that Vincent has been systematically lying to her by omission. “Do I not love King and country as much as you?”
  17. Interesting scene which builds tension with local characters. Jane realizes that Anne is the Bonapartist and has been using her French-English connections to help with the overthrow of Louis XVIII. Tells Vincent her suspicions. He is impressed with her wit and Jane realizes that she might have something to offer besides glamour.
  18. Napoleon’s soldiers come for Vincent. He realizes at the last minute that it’s because of the military potential of the glamour in glass. Hands it to Jane, yanking the velvet covering off and shoves her into the sunlight where she disappears. Jane watches him taken away, muffling her sobs with her hands and wishing she could do glamour to save him but knowing that she has to keep the glass safe.
  19. Finds out he’s being taken to the front lines to work the invisibility glamour for Napoleon. Has to wait for a sunny day to attempt to rescue him.
  20. Jane confronts Anne, who denies spying on them. Not believing her, Jane explains that she is with child and that she is now in exactly the position that Anne’s mother was in when her husband was killed in battle. Crumbling, Anne protests that she didn’t realize they would take him, when she told Napoleon’s men about the invisibility glamour. Had she known, she would never have done it. Jane says, “And now you do, so will you help me?” Anne agrees to help, despite her loyalty to Napoleon.
  21. When they find him, Vincent in bad shape from being forced to overdo glamour. As they are leaving the sun goes behind a cloud, revealing them. Sun comes out and they are again invisible. Run frantically. Vincent stumbles, the glass drops and breaks.
  22.  Jane works the spell herself, knowing the risk it places on her unborn child. Both of them loaded into Anne’s laundry’s cart and hauled away. Chased. Cart breaks axle. Must flee bareback. Barely escape but catch up with English army.
  23.  Report situation to General Wellington.
  24. Jane miscarries. She is heartbroken and yet filled with relief that she will be able to do glamour again. The guilt at the relief is very strong and, as Vincent is trying to comfort her, she confesses it to him. He kisses her and reassures her that she will be his muse always, whether she is doing glamour or not. She takes some comfort in this and falls asleep in his arms.
  25. Back in England at dinner. Prince Regent says that he wants to hear a full report while the ladies withdraw. Vincent asks Jane to stay. “I have learned that it is to my folly to do anything without my wife.” Happily ever after.
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14 Responses

  1. disperser

    Good explanation . . . I’m probably at the far end of the spectrum; I have a scene in mind, and build from there with little forethought.

    Then again, I don’t make a living from writing.

    Still, I’m unclear on your process. Does modifying an outline mean working on another outline?

    By that I mean plotting out the book again from where you deviated so as to still have a roadmap of sorts to proceed with. Or is it more of a jump in the spectrum from “I’m on the path” to “I’m off the path, but let’s see where it goes”?

    Only asking out of curiosity, and because thinking about how I write, it seems I might be constantly reworking any outline I have, perhaps to the detriment of actual writing

    By that, I guess I’m asking if “seeing” the whole story as you write is your default mode (not all the words, obviously, but major plot points and ending).

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

      Modifying the outline means that I revise the outline that I’m working on to reflect the story that I want to be telling. So it would be more accurate to say “There’s a fork in the path. What are the consequences of taking either one.”

      I think of it as a roadmap. Actually… there’s a Writing Excuses episode where I talk about outlining. Maybe give that a listen and then take a look at my supplemental material for the episode?

      1. disperser

        I remember the episode (and there are other podcasts that touch on outlining through guest interviews), but I had not read the supplemental material (thanks for that).

        I was just curious, and the explanation makes sense. I was merely trying to understand it in terms of my own process.

        Part of me resists outlining because it’s just a shortened version of writing the story (get an idea, develop characters, develop plot, adjust as needed). I equate it with composing a piece of music (I’m not a musician, so I may be talking out of my . . . well, let’s just leave it at I’m not a musician).

        I imagine composing a piece of music is a lot like writing, and I can’t envision having an outline for the music; I imagine it more organic, where you have an idea for what you want and build on it.

        Outlining a story always leaves me lost because I don’t have the feel for the characters, the interaction of the characters, their actions in response to events, etc.

        Not making excuses, or asking for help; maybe a bit envious of them who can “see” what they want from a story beyond just the premise.

        Thanks for your time.

        1. Mary Robinette Kowal Post author

          I have no idea about musicians and would love to hear a composer talk about their process. As an artist, the outline, for me, is the armature upon which I build the story. I want to make certain I have a solid foundation. All the details and embellishments get built onto that.

          For the most part, that outline shows plot. It’s not showing the character interactions or their emotional reactions. It’s telling me the events that happen and the order in which they happen.

        2. Crystal

          I think a better analogy would be to look at how some visual artists work. Many do a light but detailed sketch in pencil to outline the work, and then the real art comes when you take that outline and add the colors, the layers, the emotion to the piece. I see outlining as something similar. It’s up to the artist as to how detailed the sketch is, and some of course, don’t sketch at all.

      2. disperser

        You have comments closed on the supplemental material post, so I’ll comment here.

        Thanks for that. I better understand the process . . . enough to know it’s not well suited to what I do.

        Understand, I’m not slamming it. I admire it, evy it even.

        What struck me about it is the discipline it requires . . . and how different it is from the impending preparation for my second NaNoWriMo (as in “I think I’ll try a detective novel”).

  2. Benjamin

    … Every time I’ve heard an author talk about outlining his or her story, I have always assumed that he or she was using the typical Roman numeral/little letter/big letter outline.

    I.
    a.
    b.
    II. …….

    This way makes SO much more sense….. I’ve wasted so many hours trying to make the other work (because, that’s what I thought the “successful ones” were doing).

    Thank you for sharing….. You’ve just lightened a burden for me. Off to be productive!

  3. Rachel W.

    These last two posts have been so helpful during my run-up to NaNoWriMo. Thank you for sharing!

    My goal this year is to finish a real draft in my 50,000 words, which calls for a bit more focus and planning than I’ve used in the past. I don’t quite trust my instincts enough to go without an outline, but part of me always fears that too much structure will smother all my interest in a project.

    Now I’m excited to go work on my outline. Your showing how skeletal these can be, with lots of space left for fun discoveries, changed me from “bah, this is a boring Thing I Should Do” to “wait, duh: this is a helpful tool that will make will make my job more fun!”

  4. Peggy :)

    I’m really enjoying these posts! Comparing this with the finished novel is fascinating and useful. Thank you! 🙂

  5. Katrina

    Thanks so much for this Mary! I’ve wanted to know how you did this since I first listened to ‘Outlining the Mary Way’.

    I’ve been trying to backwards engineer something similar to this as I’ve been struggling to visualize the whole of my novel. I wrote it as a pantsing exercise before I had any real grasp of outlining, and I know there’s something wrong in the structure but can’t see the wood for the trees. This and the previous post on ‘Shades’ are just what I needed!

    Brilliant!

  6. Chella

    That’s really, really helpful. Plus, it sounds like a bloody good read. I will have to get into these books, as I reeeeally want to read your latest one.

    Thanks so much for showing the workings behind the magic show.

    I’m not an outliner, but it helps to know what they look like, just in case I feel the urge.

  7. Keith Manuel

    I’ve seen a lot of writing advice online, but this gives me a concrete (and winning) example. So thank you very much for this.

    I also have been struggling with what I had been trained to do in the social sciences, i.e., I. A. 1. a.

    I thought I was a discovery writer because I could not stick to the outline I had written (which was rather crummy), but now I feel liberated. Thank you.

  8. Crystal

    I’ve transitioned from being a pantser to an outliner over the past couple of years. I’ve found that outlining helps me have the big picture of the story down, so that my brain can focus on all of the other questions and details. It’s helped me shorten the amount of time it takes to finish a story. Even more telling (for me at least) is that I’ve sold two stories that were outlined, and none of the ones (yet) that I just sat down and wrote.

    I also know that outlining becomes more important depending on the length. A 1500 word short may have three sentences of an outline. My novel-in-progress has many, many more. (Oh Scrivener, thank you for showing me the ways of novel organization.)

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