Want to see the original outline for Shades of Milk and Honey?

I know a lot of you are getting ready to begin NaNoWriMo. I’ve mentioned before that I wrote Shades of Milk and Honey for it. I’ve also mentioned before that I had planned a completely different ending for the novel. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Since this was the first time I’d written to an outline, I stuck with it through the end of November, even though I had a sense that I wanted the novel to be doing different things.

At the end of the month, I read my 50k words, thought “Yep” and tossed 20k to get back to the point where I was still excited. In subsequant years, I go ahead and revise the outline and count those words towards my overall total. The moral of the story is that if your outline isn’t pleasing you, change the outline.

Edited to add: Bear in mind that this was my first outline for a novel. When writing now, my outlines are longer and, at times, more detailed.

And now… Here is the original outline for Shades of Milk and Honey.


Character List:

Miss Jane Wentworth – The oldest daughter of Mr. Charles Wentworth.
Miss Melody Wentworth – Her younger sister. A great beauty.
Mr. Charles Wentworth – The second son of an old British family, presiding over an entailed estate. Respectable, gentlemen farmer.
Mrs. Charles Wentworth – Much given to neuralgia and vapors.
Mr. Edmund Dunkirk – The eldest son of the Baronet of Downsferry. Stands to inherit a sizeable estate.
Miss Elizabeth (Beth) Dunkirk – The only daughter of the Baronet and sister of Mr. Dunkirk.
Mr. Christopher Dunkirk – The younger son of the Baronet of Downsferry
Lady FitzCameron of Banbree Manor- Dowager with an eligible daughter.
Miss Livia FitzCameron – Daughter, known to use magic to cover her horse teeth.
Mr. David Vincent – Artist who creates murals with magic for nobility. Currently in residence at Lady FitzCameron’s
Captain Harold Livingston – The nephew of the Lady FitzCameron

  1. Jane Wentworth has an attachment to Mr. Dunkirk, as does her sister Melody. Jane determines that she should suppress her own interests in him, so as not to hurt her sister’s chances.
  2. Jane comforts Melody.
  3. At nuncheon, the family learns that the FitzCamerons plan to hold a ball to welcome home their nephew, Mr. Harold Livingston, a Captain in the Navy.
  4. In which Jane and Melody go to town to pick fabric for new dresses for the ball. Mr. Dunkirk is there escorting his sister for the same purpose.
  5. Dunkirks come to call. Melody is jealous. Jane faints.
  6. At the ball, Jane sees Mr. David Vincent, an magic arts muralist (glamourist) who is creating a diorama for the FitzCameron’s dining room. Captain Livingston flirts with Melody.
  7. Berry-picking party. Jane is pressured into creating a pantomime with Mr. Vincent.
  8. Berry-picking party continued. After the pantomime, Mr. Vincent takes his leave. On the way home, Melody falls and sprains ankle.
  9. Livingston and Dunkirk come to call on Melody. Some posturing between them. Jane realizes that Melody has not sprained her ankle after all.
  10. At home. Jane evades Dunkirk, believing that he has come to call on Melody. Spends time with his sister instead. Mr. Vincent arrives at end of Chapter
  11. Mr. Vincent has been sent by Lady FitzCameron to amuse Melody. Jane goes to check on her mother. Captain Livingston arrives, both men flirt with Melody.
  12. Jane goes to Dunkirk who and spends time with Miss Dunkirk, who hints that she is in love. Receives invitation to FitzCameron dinner party.
  13. At dinner party, Jane is seated next to Mr. Dunkirk. After dinner, when the ladies retire to the drawing room, a chance comment, overheard, hurts Jane’s feelings. “Plain Jane? I should judge her fortunate if she were only plain.” She flees to the garden where–
  14. She seeks seclusion, but is almost caught (in an overwraught state) by unknown people, so she uses the invisibilty thingie to hide. Overhears lovers, uses invisibility thingie. Realizes that it is Captain Livingston, but not certain who the girl is. He is apologizing for paying attention to Miss FitzCameron, but must in order to keep their love secret until its proper time. Jane is appalled. Lady FitzCameron asks her and Mr. Vincent to do another tableau vivant for them.
  15. Mr. Vincent collapses from the effort of too much glamour. Jane, as the next most experienced glamourist, is pressed to service as his nurse until the surgeon arrives. Over the course of the next several days, Captain Livingston brings word as to Mr. Vincent’s recovery. Jane is praised as having saved his life by her quick thinking. She and her father arrange time for Captain Livingston to be alone with Melody, thinking he might propose.
  16. Melody and Jane escape Mrs. Marchand’s recital of her ailments and have a conversation in the garden, during which Melody admits to having a secret lover, but will not admit who.
  17. Lady FitzCameron, removes to Bath, taking Mr. Vincent with her. Several days later, Jane goes to Robinsford Abbey where Mr. Dunkirk says that he is worried about Beth and confesses her history to Jane. They agree that she probably had a one-sided attachment to Mr. Vincent and that the immediate danger is past now that he is gone. Mr. Dunkirk accidentally calls her by her maiden name, apologizing by saying, “Forgive me, Beth so often calls you by your Christian name that it has become familiar to me. I apologize deeply for the presumption.”
  18. Jane calls the next day, as she arranged with Mr. Dunkirk, but Beth is in deep melancholy. She soothes her.
  19. Beth awakes. More comfort. Mr. Dunkirk gives her a horse.
  20. They all go riding.
  21. .Jane talks to her father about Melody. They both agree to keep an eye on her.
  22. The Dunkirk parents arrive, and other guests for a house party to keep Beth amused.
  23. Soon hear that Captain Livingston has returned to Banbree Hall on business for Lady FitzCameron. Daily expect him to call.
  24. Jane wakes and hears Melody slip out. She has conversation in the garden with Captain Livingston. Jane captures their words, hardly knowing why, and ties the thread off in the garden, making a silent loop.
  25. Jane learns that Captain Livingston has asked for Miss Dunkirk’s hand and that she has accepted. Jane realizes that Livingston is making love to both Miss Dunkirk and Melody, and that Miss Dunkirk is the young woman that she saw him with. In turmoil, realizing that it will destroy the girl’s happiness, and also knowing that it is a conversation which she has no right to have possession of she asks Mr. Dunkirk to the garden to listen to the recording. Devastated, he determines to write to their father and tell him to deny permission for the union.
  26. Jane returns home to tell Melody of Miss Dunkirk’s engagement to Captain Livingston.
  27. Miss Dunkirk runs away.
  28. She is found.
  29. Recovering, Miss Dunkirk receives Jane and in passing mentions that she hopes to be well by the time of her brother’s marriage. “Oh, yes. They settled the engagement in Bath.” Scene where Jane congratulates Mr. Dunkirk on his good fortune. He is confused and then says, “Oh, my dear. My younger brother is marrying Miss FitzCameron.”
  30. She winds up with Dunkirk and her sister winds up with Vincent.

If you are interested, I’ve also posted the outline for Glamour in Glass, and the synopsis with which we sold it.

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10 thoughts on “Want to see the original outline for Shades of Milk and Honey?”

  1. Holy cow (or other quadruped)!

    I know it’s learned, but to date I’ve been unable to outline stories . . . destined to be a discovery wannabe-writer (it’s not too bad).

    . . . that almost looks like a variation of the snowflake method, but I assume most outlines do.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow…Blinks and nods. The difference is …well a series. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for not writing that book…for giving us Vincent AND Jane.

  3. I’m a serious pantster (or as the Writing Excuses team calls it “discovery writing” and I like that term a lot) but I find outlines fascinating. I wish my brain worked like this! I skimmed through your outline because I haven’t read this book yet (it’s on my kindle!) and I didn’t want to spoil it 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  4. Hmm . . . if you did not write that book, was there another outline, or did you modify this on the fly, eventually discarding it?

    I’m wondering, if there wasn’t another outline, about the difference between outlining and not following the outline, and discovery writing.

  5. Holy moley! I’m glad that Vincent was sufficiently interesting and Jane independent enough to change that outline! I very much love their ongoing story.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this Mary, it was extremely interesting.

    Out of interest, what was the final word count approximately on Shades? I’m curious to know how many more words went into it (or were taken out) as a result of the re-writing.

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