Novel Project Outline: A Wing and a Prayer

This is the NPO for my story.  The title is subject to change…

Novel Project Outline

Title: A Wing and a Prayer (subject to change)

Author: c. a. webb (pen name)

Genre: Drama

Audience: Pre-teen and up



Elinor Poole, protagonist:

A young woman of about twenty-three, Elinor is a quiet, hardworking girl with many hopes and dreams.  She has strong emotions but rarely allows them to show.  She is naturally gentle and reserved but possesses many of what we would call firstborn characteristics: confidence, assurance, strength, dignity, responsibility, motherliness.  These characteristics were enhanced by the death of her father seven years prior which forced her to aid her mother in providing for the family monetarily and physically.  While they often stand her in good stead, the first-born characteristics often become obstacles in her relationship with her brother, who at seventeen is trying to become the man of the family and take on the responsibility of leading, protecting and providing for his mother and siblings.  Because this is the role that Elinor has played for so long, it is hard for her to accept the changing dynamics attendant upon her brother’s growing up.

Elinor is engaged to be married to Ethan Hayne who is an airman in the war.  She struggles with the danger that Ethan faces constantly, the uncertainty of his safety, and most of all, trusting God through it all.  She wrestles with laying her love open to the will of God.  This also plays a part in her anxiety about the chance that her brother may be called up.  Meanwhile, Elinor supplements the family income by teaching day school and piano lessons, setting aside some of the money for her upcoming marriage.

In person, Elinor is about medium height, slight of build with dark hair that she inherited from her father.  Her eyes are gray-blue and do much of her talking for her; she has a sensitive, expressive face.  She loves music, fresh flowers and children.


Rosamund Poole, protagonist:

Elinor’s mother, Rosamund, is one of those women whose deep inner strength comes out in adversity.  She has struggled to provide for her family for years following her husband’s death, and though she has experienced much sorrow in her life – including the childhood death of a son who was born after Elinor – she always stays her hope on Jesus.  She could be described as a strong woman, but that strength is sweet, subtle and feminine.  In order to support her family she takes in sewing and rents a small room in the back of the house.

She also worries about the possibility of Derek being called up.  In her eyes he is still a young boy and she cannot bear to think of his going away to fight and possibly being killed.  This possibility is even harder for her because of her previous losses.  She is very happy for her daughter’s upcoming marriage, yet this joy is mixed with the pain of remembering her own courtship so many years ago and the pain of soon “losing” Elinor.  In addition, she is walking with Elinor through the difficulties of Ethan’s absence and danger.

In person, Rosamund is a tall and graceful woman of about forty-five with light brown, graying hair, brown eyes that always look slightly tired or shadowed with pain, and a sweet smile.  Her hands are neither soft nor calloused but rather worn smooth by years of hard work.


Derek Poole, protagonist:

Derek, Elinor’s seventeen-year-old brother, is a tall youth with a shock of dark brown hair and deep brown eyes.  He feels the responsibility of providing for his family and becoming the man of the house but is unsure of himself.  He also is torn between his desire to “do his bit” for his country, his fear of war, and his desire to stay home to provide for his family.  He feels protective of his mother and siblings, but is slightly insecure in his position as a younger brother.  He is trying to become a man but does not know how.  He has almost a brother’s relationship with Ethan Hayne, who is his role model.  Derek is eager and sometimes too hasty for his own good.  He has a quick temper but never holds a grudge.  He works at a farm just outside of town in order to help support his family but his dream is to enter the police force.


Ethan Hayne, protagonist:

Ethan Hayne is Elinor’s fiancé who is overseas fighting in the war.  He could be described as a tender warrior, gentle and quiet-spoken but very protective of and ardent in his love towards Elinor.  He is about twenty-five years old, a hardworking, steadfast Christian man on whom the war takes a hard toll.  But through it all he encourages Elinor to remain strong in the Lord, to trust Him for everything, and to submit to His will in all things.  He has no family, so he has come to look upon the Pooles as his adopted family.


Jack Poole, minor protagonist:

Jack is one of the five-year-old twins.  He is small and chubby with big grayish-blue eyes and light brown hair.  He is protective of his mother and sisters, reverent of his big brother and Ethan Hayne, and very imaginative.  He often comes out with witty sayings that make his family laugh.


Polly Poole, minor protagonist:

Polly is the other twin.  Like her brother, Jack, she is small and chubby with light brown hair, but she has velvety brown eyes like her mother and Derek.  She is a busy little girl, rather mature for her age.  She loves to help “Mummy” and makes friends with animals of all sizes.


Point of View

Written in third person, past tense, limited omniscient.  It is written mainly from the viewpoint of the main character, Elinor, but viewpoint sometimes changes to Rosamund, Elinor’s mother.



Story begins in the fall of 1941 and ends in the spring of 1942.  Location is the small town of Winchelsea, East Sussex, England.


Plot Outline

Elinor and her family live in a small town in the English countryside.  Because Elinor’s father is dead, Elinor must help support the family monetarily.  Elinor’s anxiety is divided between her fiancé who is fighting overseas, the possibility of Derek going to war, and the difficulty of maintaining a family in the difficult times of the 1940s.  As the war goes on and Elinor’s faith is tested, she learns to lean solely on Christ.  She also must learn how to help her younger brother to become a man.



man vs. man: Elinor, Rosamund and Derek have difficulties figuring out their changing family dynamics.  This causes some tension between them.  Minor conflict.

man vs. environment: The Pooles struggle to make ends meet financially.  Minor conflict.

man vs. himself:  Elinor struggles with trusting God through her trials – trusting God to keep or send Derek according to His will, trusting God to protect Ethan or take him Home according to His will…entrusting Him with everything. Major conflict.

man vs. animal: n/a



Primary: Trust/Faith

Secondary: Love and War/Peace


Literary Devices

I’m not quite certain yet what literary devices I will use in this story.  I will most likely use some metaphor and some flashback, but other than that I will need to see what fits with the mood of the story.



I fell in love with the World War II era a few years ago, mostly because (I know, I’m mercenary) of the women’s fashions from the 1940s.  But since then I’ve realized that that period was special for more than adorable dresses, fabric flowers and cute heels.  The war brought out a hidden strength in the people who lived through it, particularly in England where the war was more of a daily reality than in America.  The British mystery series, “Foyle’s War,” showed me so many day-to-day dimensions of the war that I had never even considered.  That is part of what inspired me to write this story.  How would I cope in a situation like that?  If someone I loved was away fighting, would I have the courage and the faith to say “Thy will be done?”

The secondary conflict of the relationship between Elinor and Derek reflects a different wondering I’ve had for some time now.  How would things work between an older sister and a younger brother?  More specifically, what would it look like for the sister to gradually relinquish some/all of her authority or motherliness towards him and begin to look up to him as a man?  I thought it would be interesting to flesh out and would provide some needed tension in the story.

~c. a.


2 thoughts on “Novel Project Outline: A Wing and a Prayer

  1. Yay Carreen–this looks great! While I am normally kind of an action guru (I like watching ’24’ for example), I have a soft spot for quiet, peaceful stories in which not much happens. I’m curious–many stories like this have some kind of tragedy in them (i.e. some family member perishes). Do I see that in this family’s future? lol
    I don’t know if you are writing thie younger brother/older sister conflict from experience or just from interest. I will say that I can certainly identify, since my only sibling is a brother 4 years younger than me. I had to have a transition period where he went from being my “baby brother” to being–in an odd way–almost like an older brother. All that to say, if you are not writing from experience and you ever want a reference for this one, I’d be happy to help if I can.
    *shrugs* All that to say…great job and I can’t wait to start reading it! (not sure about the title, but maybe one will come once the story is going along…I can’t talk because I don’t even have one at all yet)

    1. The tragedy has kinda already happened, with the dad dying before the story begins. I’m kicking around the idea of having the fiance come back wounded, but I’m not sure if that’s cheesy…I’ll keep thinking. I’m doing absolutely nothing except hang out with my family and a friend and her family next week, so I’ll be able to ponder without pressure. =)

      The brother/sister thing is completely from interest. I have one brother who is four years older than me and one sister who is three years younger than me, so I’m an older sister to my sister and a younger sister to my brother. That’s always worked out really well for us. When we were little my sister and I always looked up to him so the transition from kid- to more adult-relationship was fairly smooth. (Sometimes I wonder if we’re all as old as we are though…the things we laugh about late at night! Good times…) But I’ve always wondered how it would work if I had a younger brother. Like you said, I can see there being a point where he almost would become an older brother, and I wondered how that would work. He would have to become a man and I would have to give up some of my older-ness. All that to say…yes, I would love input on this conflict in particular! I have no experience, just imagination and some observation of friends. =)

      And title…I know. It was the best I could do but it’s already been taken by a non-fiction book. I’m hoping that as the story matures something big and blaring and really creative will just pop out.

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