K.M. Weiland is the author of the epic fantasy Dreamlander, the historical western A Man Called Outlaw and the medieval epic Behold the Dawn. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her website Helping Writers Become Authors, her books Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, and her instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration. She makes her home in western Nebraska.
Enjoy this interview, and by all means check out her books. I do believe they will be well worth your time.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, and books you've worked on/published:
Thanks for having me! I’m a very stereotypical writer chick, hibernating in my make-believe worlds, most of which are either historical or fantasy. I’ve published three novels A Man Called Outlaw (western), Behold the Dawn (historical set during the Third Crusade), Dreamlander (fantasy), and the non-fiction writing how-to books Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success and Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story.
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story just came out. Tell us a bit about this book and how it can help writers.
I am so excited about this book. When I first learned about story structure it absolutely blew me off my feet. Writers are always dragging themselves through painful revisions, because, deep down, we sense something is wrong with the story. But we’re just running off gut instinct. An understanding of structure helps us see our stories, where they’re working, and where they’re not. Structure has revolutionized my approach to writing. If I can’t share with others anything else about writing, then I’ll be happy just to share structure.
Care to give a teaser tip?
Structure just knocks my socks off—every single day. Even years after I first learned about it, I still can’t get over the fact of how much it has changed and eased my writing process. And it’s one of those rabbit holes that goes ever deeper. Every time I think I have it figured out, I learn something new and fascinating. Probably my favorite aspect of structure is also the most basic: that of splitting a story into four distinct parts, divided by three plot points. The first quarter is the setup, the second is the character reacting to the first plot point, the third is the character beginning to take action, and the fourth is the climax. It’s all much more detailed than that, of course. But even just that can help us make so much more sense out of how a story works and which parts go where.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Locations, real life “characters”, other books, music?
I like to say that “inspiration is everywhere”—which is a bit disingenuous, since I’m really not very likely to find a new story idea by staring at my pencil. But, hey, you never know! All of the influences you’ve mentioned have certainly played a part in inspiring my stories. For Outlaw, the genesis was a song, for Behold my original idea came from a children’s picture book, and for Dreamlander the idea was actually given to me (or maybe “forced upon” would be more accurate!) by my brother. My two current WIPs were inspired by a dream and a movie, respectively. So, see, inspiration is everywhere!
What is your favorite part about writing and the writing process?
Ooh, that’s hard! I love every part of the process, even the parts I don’t love. Okay, no, I take that back. My favorite part, easily, is the conception stage—when the story is full of perfect color and wonder in my imagination. Stories are like butterflies and when we pin them to the page, we lose a little of that life and vibrancy. As for the actual work part of writing, I probably enjoy the outline most, since the possibilities are endless and my inner editor doesn’t yet have an opportunity to carp at my prose.
What are your own personal and professional goals as a writer?
I’m actually not big on long-term goals. Succeed, I guess you’d say, is my only long-term goal and that, of course, is pretty subjective, even within my own perspective. My biggest goal as a writer was to be able to support myself writing full-time, and I was able to start doing that in 2011. So, of course, one of my biggest goals right now is to maintain that.
I prefer to focus on short-term goals: deadlines, etc. I keep an eye on the long-term vision, but when the little goals are being met, the rest falls into place. I always have projects underway that I want to see finished and readership that I’d like to see increase.