The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Cliff’s Notes version

Hey, readers! Has it been too long (a whole six months!) since you read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms? Have you forgotten all its little plotty bits and pieces, but don’t have time to go back and re-read before you tackle The Broken Kingdoms?

Well have no fear! I’m here to help. Here you may download the original outline for the novel (under its original title), which I wrote back in 2008 when my agent was getting ready to submit that novel to publishers. It’s long — 19 pages — but still shorter than the whole book. Note that it contains spoilers (obviously), including for the ending!

And for the writerly-oriented among you who might be wondering, I’m following one of the outline* formats suggested on the old version of the SFWA website; looks like it’s no longer there, or I’d link to it directly. This is by no means the only outlining method out there, note. It’s just the one I prefer, because it’s structured in a way that helps me organize my thoughts when I’m breaking ground on a new novel. It can also be revised easily to give to editors, when the book is done. The initial version is rarely this detailed, by the way. Usually the last section starts as just a series of bullet points, or a few paragraphs explaining the first few chapters then the basic plot thereafter, and the ending. (Always have to include the ending.) I actually revise the outline several times as I’m working on the book, and one final time before the book goes out to publishers. I often run the penultimate outline past my writing group, to see if it conveys all the important points of the story concisely enough, and to make sure it’s still comprehensible.

Anyhow, in the spirit of that lost SFWA article, I share this freely so that prospective writers will see an example of a successful outline. It’s licensed under Creative Commons, so don’t sell it or change the text, and if you pass it on, be sure to say who you got it from. Aside from that, hope it’s useful to you. But remember: reading the Cliff’s Notes is no substitute for reading the actual source material!

*Not synopsis! This includes a synopsis, but an outline is something different.

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3 Responses »

  1. Having read (and loved) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I really like the ambiguity of its original title. It leaves the question of which personal title refers to which character completely up to the reader. I personally like to interpret it almost as many ways as possible, simultaneously and/or depending on the situation.

    Thank you for sharing the outline :)

  2. Hi Socchan,

    Yeah, I liked the original title too — obviously, since I came up with it — but the problem was that it was a spoiler regarding one element of the plot (the “surprise” revelation that the Gods’ War was actually a lovers’ quarrel gone horribly wrong). It also ran the risk of alienating those epic fantasy types who are allergic to any hint of girl cooties before they ever picked it up. Some of them are still getting hives over the girl cooties — man, every time I glance at the George R. R. Martin forum it’s hilarious to see their “OMG there was sex and romance nooo!!1!” conniptions* — but most of them seem to have gotten over it and enjoyed the book.

    So I prefer the new title, since it at least implies the scope of the novel. The events all take place in one palace, but they certainly affect the whole world.

    *And I’ve seen the same screennames in other threads in that forum making statements like “women shouldn’t write epic fantasy,” so yeah, it’s definitely the girl cooties.