Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland - Book Review and Giveaway

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

This past August I had the privilege of taking a class from writing instructor David Farland. I filled at least a dozen pages in my notebook during that class. The man breathes wisdom, and I did my best to jot it all down.

Then, a few weeks later, I got to see him again at Salt Lake Comic Con. I had him sign two copies of Million Dollar Outlines. One for me. And one for you.

Here's a picture of me with David and the precious autographed book that I'll be giving away in today's blog post.

Here is a little bit about the book:
Bestselling author David Farland has taught dozens of writers who have gone on to staggering literary success, including such #1 New York Times Bestsellers as Brandon Mull (Fablehaven), Brandon Sanderson (Wheel of Time), James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). In this book, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel so that it can appeal to a wide readership, giving it the potential to become a bestseller. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors go on to prominence.

And a peek at the table of contents:

Section 1: What Makes a Bestselling Story?
        Introduction: Writing as a Form of Entertainment
        What is Entertainment?
        What Is a Story, and How Does it Work?
        On Story Types Versus Shapes
        Defining a Million-Dollar Property
        Why Do Research for Becoming a Bestseller?
        Audience Analysis: Novels
        Using Emotional Draws
        Pulling it All Together

Section 2: Identify the Elements that Help You Plot Your Story
        Elements of a Story
        Brainstorming Your Settings
        Building Characters
        Finding Themes in Your Tale
        Novel Plotting Tools

Section 3: The Plotting Process
        Promising Starts to a Novel
        Story Middles
        Ending Your Story Well
        Writing a Million Dollar Outline

What I thought of the book:

This book got me excited from the start. David Farland talked about entertainment and why people read popular fiction. He talked about story structure. Things like ... 

-Stories are strongest when they start with some sort of mystery that leaves the reader asking, "Why?" 
-The importance of having high stakes. 
-Letting the hero go through at least three try-fail cycles as he attempts to resolve the problem. 
-How to suck in your audience. 

All good stuff. The kind of stuff that can help you create a story that appeals to the masses. Though, based on the title, I would have liked to have seen at least one example of a million dollar outline in the book. A very small portion of the book is actually about outlining. But this is the way David Farland teaches. He has discussions. He talks about craft, the industry, his experiences, books that did things right, books that failed. It's like you're sitting down with him, talking over lunch. So while reading this book might not leave you walking away with a million dollar outline, you will be inspired and excited to get back to your story and apply all that you have learned.

Have you ever read this book? If so, what did you think about it? What other books on outlining fiction have you read that helped you?

USA entries only, since this book is in my house! Enter to win here:


  1. This sounds like an awesome read. I'm entering!

  2. Ooh! This sounds amazing. Thank you very much, Mrs. Williamson.

  3. This sounds like a pretty helpful book. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  4. I haven't read any books about outlining, but I have read Go Teen Writers! You guys have really helped me.

  5. Am I eligible???? ;)

    I thought this book had such a unique take on storytelling. The explanation he has in there about building stress and relieving stress for readers was brand new to me and really caused me to think differently about how I organize my stories.

    Like you mentioned, I didn't really walk away knowing how to create an amazing outline. But I did close the book with a deeper understanding of story as a whole.

  6. I've read only one outline book, and it was helpful, but I'm always open to ideas :) I'm not a plotter by nature, but you've enticed me...thanks for the chance.

    Hoping I get lucky! But best of luck to all who enter!!

  7. I'd love to have that book :) I follow Farland's blog. It's a great resource!

  8. I've never read this book, but as a serious plotter, it sounds great! : ) I get his newsletters, and they're awesome.

  9. I've heard of Farland and have one of his ebooks downloaded on my Kindle. Really interested in this book.

  10. I've never read this... but it looks great!

  11. It sounds like a great book and will help me with all of my writing weaknesses.

  12. This book sounds so good!
    Let's see...I've read Go Teen Writers (the book) and Seize the Story by Victoria Hanley. I also have Gail Levine's Writing Magic books, but I haven't had a chance to finish them yet.

    1. I only read her blog, but I've heard wonders about K. M. Weiland's outlining books. Just thought I'd mention this, because the other books I mentioned aren't really about outlining.

  13. Sounds like a helpful book if you want your novel to be successful from a business standpoint.

  14. Oh I'd love to get this! It would be so handy when I get to the point of rewrites.

  15. This sounds like a really great resource. Even if I don't win I'll see what I can do to get my hands on it.

  16. This book looks cool. I heart wheel of time.

  17. I haven't read this book, but I'd REALLY REALLY REALLY like to win it! I've read the GTW book, and a book by Mary Kole, but 'Save the Cat' and 'Bird by Bird' are both on my tbr!

  18. Sounds like a good resource to look up.

  19. This books sounds like an awesome resource :) Can't wait to enter.

  20. This is definitely going on my "to read" list.

  21. Believe it or not, much of my education on outlines came not from books but from Go Teen Writers blog. This book looks fascinating, though!

  22. This sounds really really awesome!

  23. I've never been much of an outline person, seeing as I'm one who prefers to be swept up in the lovely madness and personality of characters -- as well as the story. But truthfully, I have been trying to form and stick to outlines, more! :)

  24. I haven't read this book or any others on outlining, but I need to because I'm terrible at it. In my mind's eye, though, outlining would make my writer's life ever so much easier... Hehe!

  25. I haven't read this book, but I'd really like to! It was really cool meeting Mr. Farland at Realm Makers. ^ ^

  26. I haven't read this book, but it sounds very useful. xD I have only read one book on outlining, but it was very useful... I think it was called, "Outlining Your Novel." xP

  27. This book looks so cool! Definitely hoping I win :).
    ~Savannah Perran