The Pealsong Refounding fantasy trilogy by Michael Warden. Gideon's Dawn, The Waymaker, The Word Within.

Inherited Lands

Novel Update: The STEP Outline

4 comments | Posted: Book-Update, by Michael D. Warden
“Life is conflict. That is its nature. The writer must decide where and how to orchestrate this struggle.” ~ Robert McKee, Story

My office has been transformed into a war room.

In preparation for the writing journey ahead, I’ve stripped the walls of photos and artwork and framed diplomas. In their place, I’ve slapped up this strip of butcher paper, curving round the space like a virgin road to God knows where. On it, I’ve mapped the future—Gideon’s future, mostly, but also my own, ‘cause I’ll be writing this baby over the next several months.

You’re looking at the outline for The Word Within, the third and final novel in the Pearlsong Refounding trilogy. The green and orange and yellow tags you see in the photo above signify major scenes in the story, arranged on the butcher paper according to the storyline to which they belong. On each I’ve noted the key events that make up that scene. Each individual sticky represents ten to twenty pages of manuscript. In fact, based on my butcher-paper estimates, the final manuscript of The Word Within will have:

  • 7 diverging/converging storylines, divided among
  • 40 chapters, constituting around
  • 140,000 words.

In other words: Big. Maybe too big.

Well, we’ll see. Once I get into the thick of the woods, I may find some ways to thin out the trees.

Aside from Robert McKee’s STORY course, and his book by the same name, which has been invaluable, here are the words that will be guiding me in the coming months as I write:

“I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices, almost as if it were something medical. But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.” ~ C.S Lewis


“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.” ~ Richard Wright

Pray for me. I’ll need it. :)

Marybeth T. Says:

It could never be TOO big. Looking forward to reading this last installment.

Scott S. Says:

Ditto, the above comment from Marybeth… I get a condition every now and then where my body becomes very restless and I cannot sleep. It has been somewhat attributed to a magnesium deficiency due to some other stomach issues I’m currently dealing with… I can honestly say that my first encounter with Gideon’s Dawn, was the absolute MOST ENJOYABLE time I’ve ever had not being able to sleep! When my body finally started to settle down enough to try to sleep, I just couldn’t put it down until I’d at least finished a chapter! Starting Waymaker tonight and will definitely be eagerly anticipating the next installment!! At the same time it will be with some sadness that it has to come to an end…

My prayers are with you on this endeavor… I hope God will excuse me if there is a bit of a selfish motive behind one or two of them ;-)

Joanne Says:

I love this post. Saving my pennies for The Waymaker. Loved Gideon’s Dawn. Happy word-hurling…looking forward to hearing the echo.

Anon. Says:

Enjoyed the 1st 2 books a lot! haven’t been back to the blog in a while though. I know you’re blogging the 3rd, but will it eventually be available in a hard copy? Thanks!

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Gideon's Dawn Waymaker

"...a work of extreme depth and breadth of vision."
-Christian Fiction Review


Michael D. Warden has been working professionally as a writer and editor since 1989. After several years as Managing Editor for a large publishing house in Colorado, he stepped into the adventure of writing full time. In addition to his fantasy trilogy The Pearlsong Refounding, he has written several non-fiction books, and contributed to more than 150 other books and magazines.

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