David Farland was an award-winning, international best-selling author with over 50 novels in print, and a tireless mentor and instructor of new writers. He built an audience with his "Daily Kick in the Pants" for writers, launched an editing service with MyStoryDoctor.com, created the Apex writing group, and he was one of the Founders of Superstars Writing Seminars (with Kevin J. Anderson, Brandon Sanderson, Eric Flint, James Artimus Owen, and Rebecca Moesta).

As a writing instructor, Farland mentored dozens 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).

For many years he was the coordinating judge for L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest, perhaps the largest worldwide writing competition for new fantasy and science fiction authors, and he worked in Hollywood greenlighting movies and doctoring scripts.

In his own fiction, he won the Philip K. Dick Award for his first novel On My Way to Paradise, the Whitney Award for his historical novel In the Company of Angels, and the International Book Award for his fantasy thriller Nightingale. He is best known, however, for his New York Times best-selling fantasy series The Runelords, and his Star Wars novel, The Courtship of Princess Leia.

David Farland passed away in January 2022. WordFire Press is pleased to bring back into print this profoundly important and seminal book on writing.

Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland

Outline your novel for success, taught by a master writer and instructor.

Bestselling author David Farland taught dozens of writers who went 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).

Dave was an award-winning, international best-selling author with over 50 novels in print, and a tireless mentor and instructor of new writers. His book Million Dollar Outlines is a seminal work teaching authors how to create a blueprint for a novel that can lead to bestseller success.

In this book, Dave teaches how to analyze an audience and outline a novel to appeal to a wide readership. The secrets found in his unconventional approach will help you understand why so many of his authors went on to prominence.

David Farland was hailed as "The wizard of storytelling" and one of the best writing instructors in the field for many years. Dave passed away in January 2022, but WordFire Press is pleased to bring this vital resource back to a wider readership.




Introduction: Writing as a Form of Entertainment

You want to be a writer. That's great. But how well do your desires fulfill an audience's desires? Will the audience accept you?

The average person who takes up writing may do so for a variety of reasons. Very often writers are passionate people who feel the need for self-expression more deeply than others. For them writing, like music or painting, offers an outlet where they can engage in heightened communication, expressing emotion as powerfully as possible.

Some are revolutionaries, out to change the world.

Other writers are less passionate in general, but may have a specific conflict in life that they need to express. For example I've known writers who have suffered from child abuse, spouse abuse, or unusual sexual desires and who need to create fictionalized stories about it as a form of therapy.

Again, I know writers who have no specific passion or conflict, but who write merely to attract attention. They see the medium as a road to fame and fortune.

The fact is that your motivations for wanting to write are probably complex. You may have a few great passions, you may want to be rich and famous, you may need therapy.

In fact, your reasons might be primarily economical. You may recognize that being a writer gives you a certain kind of independence from local economies so that you can live in an area where good jobs are tough to find.

Heck, I've known many writers who take it up for health reasons. When I started, I was so sick that I couldn't hold down a regular job.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to be a writer, the audience doesn't give a damn.

Audience members each have their own agenda. And in order to satisfy them, in order to sell widely so that you can make a living from your art, you need to understand your audience.

So, Why do People Seek out Stories?

The answer to that question depends on who you ask. Many people will tell you that they read or go to movies for "entertainment," which is a vague and unsatisfactory answer. After all, one man imagines himself laughing when he's entertained while the wife standing next to him imagines herself crying.

So the answer to the question is quite complex, and the reasons for seeking stories aren't necessarily the same for all readers.

For example I don't read horror. I've seen enough real horrors in life that the fictions I have read seldom can even faze me. Nor do I like murder mysteries. I had friends murdered by a serial killer when I was a child (they were hacked into pieces and thrown from a speeding car). So such tales may be too painful to read.

Nor do I consider myself to be an expert on romance. But I will talk about some attractions that are common to almost all fiction, and I'll discuss how to use that knowledge.

Before that, I'd like you to perform an exercise.


You probably have a good idea about what you want to write—horror, mainstream, fantasy, historical, romance, westerns, religious fiction, and whatnot. Sit down for ten minutes and list five things that you feel you most like in the fiction you read. Then list the biggest potential danger you see in trying to create that effect.

Doing this exercise will help you understand who your potential audience is, and some of the challenges you may face in reaching that audience.

For example, let's say you like fantasy. Your response may resemble the following:

1—I like to escape to strange new worlds

But I'm afraid that the worlds I create might not be strange enough. I sometimes wonder if I have enough imagination to compete with the likes of Tolkien. Other times I imagine things that are so alien that I'm not sure I can communicate them to my audience.