I’m about to start a story, whether on my own or at the request of
others, I work up an outline that covers most of the plot. But it’s
not just a road map, it’s an advertisement for the story. I make that
outline fun to read. When you outline your story, always do so with
the intention of showing it to others, even if you never do. The goal
of the outline is to excite interest. Once someone finishes the
outline, they should say, “Holy moly! Now I want to read the
book!” I am currently writing a Western called The Curse of The
Black Rose. It’s about ninja nuns. No kidding. It’s not my idea. Here
is the outline:
Cobb Hansen brings in Chaco, a wounded, dehydrated Indian boy to the
mission at Santo Tomas where the nuns nurse him. Chaco escaped from
General Alcala Nebres, a rogue Castilian forced to flee Spain due to
his participation in a plot to overthrow King Alfonso. Nebres sailed
to Mexico where he claimed an ancient land grant in Hidalgo Province,
while rebel forces seek to depose President Diaz, who gave him a land
grant in exchange for his support. Before rebels forced him north,
Nebres plundered an ancient Mayan temple, claiming it belonged to
has moved north into Chihuahua, but even there, the revolution nips
at his heels. He travels with is own priest and gives confession
daily. Determined to carve out his own kingdom, Nebres looks across
the Rio Grande at Texas. Chaco says Nebres enslaves and tortures
Indians and Mexicans alike.
Mercy dispatches Catalina, Sister Sofia, and Sister Caroline Harp to
check it out, and if what Chaco says is true, to kill Nebres and free
the slaves. Cobb Hendricks’ ranch is in flames, Hendricks barely
alive to describe the attack. Nebres stole his cattle and drove them
across the river.
Mexico, a rebel patrol “escorts” them to Pancho Villa, who
recently escaped prison and is deeply troubled by his actions. He
seeks absolution but nuns can’t hear confession. Catalina questions
him on Nebres, with whom Villa has been feuding. Nebres claims a
mandate from God and from Mayan deity
to create his own land. Villa is determined to drive him out of
Mexico. He chews coca leaves constantly, and plans to cultivate the
nuns accompany Villa on his raid against Nebres’ men, who have taken
over the tiny town of Sagrado Corazon, killing the men, abusing the
women, and taking their prized Miura fighting
The nuns join the fight, astonishing both sides who have never seen
fighting nuns. A captured lieutenant reveals that Nebres has staked
out a vast territory in New Mexico and declared himself an
independent nation. Itzama has made Nebres invincible, attracting
embittered Spanish/American war veterans. Rough Riders.
learned strategy and history from Aguiles and his sons. Disguised as
Apache, Catalina, Sofia, and Caroline head north, onto Apache land.
Surrounded, they reveal themselves and demand unarmed combat. The
Apache are astonished. Catalina, Sofia, and Caroline kick butt,
astonishing the Apache who adopt the three nuns into the tribe and
agree to help the Sisters. Nebres’ men raped and murdered an Apache
woman and killed her child. The Apaches catch up with the raiders.
Catalina recognizes one from Elan’s description. Surrounded by
Apache, the braggart challenges one of them to fight him hand to
hand. Wearing warpaint, Catalina mutilates him, puts him on a horse
and sends him back to Nebres with a message. Vengeance is coming.
the Guadalupe Mountains, the sisters view Nebres’ through telescopes.
He has taken over the San Cristobal Mission and put his troops to
work building corrals and robbing trains. The mortally wounded priest
curses Nebres. “God will send an angel disguised as a devil. She
will take your soul.”
Mexico is barely four months a state when a platoon from Fort Diggs
arrives to ascertain whether the rumors are true. Nebres’ men
slaughter the soldiers and send the captain away beaten and naked,
tied backwards on his horse.
has heard about the mysterious convent and its warrior nuns. His man
barely made it back before dying, but not before he delivered Lina’s
message. Father Armando assures him that he is a good man and that
those who resist him are evil. The mission has its own well and four
hundred men. Ring Lardner interviews the general for the New York
Herald, sees Nebres fight a bull.
sees no need to fight an army. All they need do is cut off the head.
A night attack at the east gate allows Catalina, Sofia, and Caroline
to enter the compound, disguised as Apache from the west. Sofia and
Caroline run off with two hundred horses, leading Nebres’ men
straight into an Apache ambush. But the Apache are outnumbered and
melt into the landscape after killing a dozen of Nebres’ warriors.
The troops return to the mission where Nebres celebrates his “great
victory,” posing for Lardner’s camera, dictating his legend.
promises Lardner the most exciting bull fight he has ever seen on the
morrow, his men bringing in prostitutes from nearby Bennett. Sofia
and Caroline Harp return in the dark.
noon, Nebres prepares for his “moment of destiny,” prays to
the Holy Virgin, puts on his matador gear and walks into the arena
before hundreds of his men and grandees from surrounding ranches. But
when the chute is opened, it is not the bull that emerges, but Sister
Catalina in her fighting gear, her face painted.