K.M. Weiland lives in Make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic. She writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in western Nebraska and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was twelve and published a small newsletter throughout high school. I independently published my first novel, the western A Man Called Outlaw when I was twenty. But I didn’t really take it seriously as a business until my next book, the medieval historical Behold the Dawn, came out three years later. And now, here I am publishing my fourth novel! Storming, my action-adventure aviation novel about a barnstorming pilot in 1920 just came out this month.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
As a novelist, I am inspired by countless excellent authors and filmmakers. Specifically, Brent Weeks’s epicness, Margaret Atwood’s prose, and Patrick O’Brian’s sheer genius speak to me and urge me on. As a blogger, I’m inspired by the professionalism and creativity of people such as Joanna Penn, Porter Anderson, and Jody Hedlund.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Write for the love of it, first and foremost. As Anne Lamott says, “Being published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is.” Write the stories of your heart, not the stories you think the market wants. Write the story you’d want to read if you were one of your own readers.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Oh, a plotter, definitely. My writing flows much easier when I have a roadmap to follow. I need to know where I’m headed if I’m going to reach my destination. My outlining process has evolved into a pretty time-intensive routine that usually takes about six months. I do all my outlining longhand in a notebook, simply because something about my sloppy handwriting seems to free my creativity. I start out by jotting down what I already know about my story (which has typically been kicking around in my head for a couple years already) and then asking myself “what if” questions to fill in the blanks. Then I progress to character sketches, using a list of “interview questions” I’ve collected over the years. (Anyone interested in the interview sheet can find it in my free ebook Crafting Unforgettable Characters.) Then I progress to a lengthy, plot-point-by-plot-point outline. Once that’s done, I organize it using the amazing writing software Scrivener—and move on to researching.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
You mean other than a satellite phone? A boatload of coffee, a generator to recharge my Kindle, and a good pair of sunglasses. Who wants to be rescued, right?