Planning to Write a Series.

I’ll be the first person to admit, I’m obsessed with continuing stories. I love being able to find my beloved characters in new situations and follow their continued growth. As a writer, I feel about the same. So much time and effort is put into the characters and their stories, letting them go can be hard and sometimes you just have so much for them to do. But, I also recognize that this isn’t always good for readers.
Writing a series is a commitment.
Now, we are talking about a series like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, not a serial which is similar to a manga which is released in chapters or parts over a longer period of time. We will get to Serials later.
So, how do we plan for a great series? How do we create a story that flows and elevates itself while allowing the books to maintain their own identity? Here is a list of key elements I like to define before I start writing.

 

Series Premise.
This is only second to coming up with the story idea. The premise is my version of the tell-all synopsis, a summary that gives all the twists, turns, climax, and resolutions. This is for author eyes only but is a vital piece to any series creation. You put all your ideas, no matter how insane or disconnected they may seem, into a flowing synopsis of the entire series. If you want it in your story, write it. I have an entire section in my Scrivener project for the premise of the series and then each book respectfully.

Definitions.
Once I have my ridiculous Premise, I like to set some definitions for my series.
What is my genre? What is my sub-genre?
What are my goals for the series? Why do I want a series?
Can this work as a single book?
Is this a stand-alone series (where each story is connected only by a world or event) or is this a continuous series (where each book tells a smaller portion of a whole story)?

Repeating Connection.
Characters aside, though a character can be a repeating connection, what within my story pops up repeatedly? Is it just my character? Is it a spell, a charm, an amulet, a demon, a murder, a story, or an event? Defining what pulls the stories together, like the red thread of fate, is key. Each story shouldn’t feel too disconnected even if they are stand-alone stories. When a reader picks up a second or third book in a series, they should feel a sense of delight when recognition hits them.
This is also a great time to start tracking subtle cues you want to drop, like breadcrumbs, to your series. Maybe an army went missing, someone saw an explosion in a distant area, or villages are reporting people going missing. While not a conflict directly linked to the current story, giving hints to the next story is always fun for readers.

Characters.
Are the characters recurring? There are several ways to define your series characters.
Recurring Leads – Our lead is the same from the first book to the last.
Revisited Characters – The Main Character (MC) of the first book is a Secondary (SC) character the rest of the series. The SC of the first book is now the MC or an entirely new MC is introduced.
All In, One Out – All the characters are introduced in the first book and become the MC of their own books later.
Ornamental Leads – Each book has a new MC we’ve never met but original the original MC becomes an ornamental character, there by name only. This could be done through mention of a “legendary hero” or a deceased friend.
There are several ways to deal with characters in a series but the key is to never forget about the original MC.

Define your ending.
I can’t say this enough: end your series. We want to keep going, some readers want us to keep going, but we have to have a point where we put the brakes on. It is for the sanity of the author as much as for the reader. Every story has an ending and there is nothing wrong with letting fans use their imagination to think about the future of their favorite characters.
Keep in mind, plans aren’t written in stone. When writing creative fiction we should always look to our plotting as a guide, however we should still always plan an ending. Every life has an end, so does every story.

Time line.
This is the point, after you’ve plotted as much of the general information as you can that you start a time line. I love to use Aeon Timeline for this. It may look very basic right now. You only have a few points to plot, but it is important to do this now. Set your start and end points for your story but allow yourself space before and after to make adjustments.

 

That’s it. Remember, a series is a commitment. You may make a small change in one place that becomes a huge change in every other plot, but it is a labor of love. From here, it is all about building our realm, which is a topic for another post.

How do you plan your series?

Inspiration: What It Is and the Top 5 Ways I Find It.

If you are a creative person you’ve probably experienced it: inspirational void. You stare at your white page and wait, realizing nothing is coming to you. Some of us just wait for inspiration to hit us. After all, inspiration is when it all bursts int our conscious and throws us into a parade of thought, right?

But is that what inspiration really is?

The definition of inspiration calls it a stimulation, especially creative, to feel or do something. It is a trigger, a creation of your environment bringing your innate ability to think or feel a depth of creativity that had been previously dormant.

To put it simply, it is a massage for your creative mind.

Well, we can massage our brains, in a metaphorical sense, can’t we? Yes, we can.

I won’t lie. I was a lazy creator. I sat on my butt and waited for inspiration to hit for oh, so many years. I’m spending everyday working to correct this error in my life and I’ve found five things that have really helped me jump-start my thoughts. So, without further figurative language, here are the top 5 ways I’ve given my brain a harsh elbow into creative thought.

A morning journal.

Yep, I keep a morning journal. One thing that I’ve found is I tend to have some awesome dreams and it is those dreams I want to remember that vanish by the time I sit down to write about them. So, instead of jumping out of bed and neglecting my writing, I start the writing almost immediately. My journal sits next to my bed and I pick it up, roll out to make my coffee and start writing right away. I write anything from dreams to things I want to do that day.

Daydream.

I like to take an hour or so with my favorite music playlist giving a concert in my ears and let my mind wander with the music. I don’t focus on anything in particular, just let my head slip into a lull of music and imagination, usually while washing dishes or folding laundry.

Existing media.

Depending on the mood I’m going for, I’ll turn on a movie, television, or read a book or magazine. I look for the smallest things to inspire me and I jot it down immediately in my ideas book. (This is a separate book from my morning journal).

Observation.

It isn’t easy as a mother of four to go out and just stare at people, but I try to do it whenever I get the chance. Though I often have to commit things to memory or summarized scratch, I try to listen to those loud conversations and make note of the way it flows. Sometimes, the kids and I play a game where we guess what is going to be said next. I do this to my kids as well. I just sit down and type everything they say in their hilarious games together. I’ve got material for days to embarrass them with later in life. Your own conversations can be great material as well!

Inspiration Boards.

There was a time I kept a Tumblr of inspiration but I have to admit, Pinterest is the bomb. I have been trying to take all my paper cutouts of inspiration and move them to digital but when I really need inspiration I open my device, pull up Pinterest and start pinning. I do this for dinner, too!

There are a dozen other things you can do but these are my favorite methods. How do you create your own inspirational environment?

This Year I Will: A Promise to Myself

We all know what the end of the year means: resolutions. Not all of us, but there are a ton of us that just get distracted and lose our heads in the new year. We just can’t stick to a resolution. I am one of those people. I’ve sputtered through a few smaller resolutions that have positively affected my life, but never stuck to any major changes set at the start of the year.

This year I want to be different.

To help myself along, I’ve already started to take steps. This blog is one of them! December of 2016 is my month to get into a new groove and adjust to some major changes in my life. Trying to manage a house full of children and animals, keeping up with my family, surviving holidays, and resisting the urge to transform into a hermit that never leaves my home is difficult.

So, what have I done this December to prepare? A lot, though I’m still actively working on this list.

  1. Build 5 2 complete story outlines from already formulated ideas.
  2. Create 5 4 timelines to match story outlines.
  3. Just write. Write 8 4 chapters from any story.
  4. Submit 5 4 works to my editor.
  5. Enter 2 contests for the winter.
  6. Create new 2017 poetry file.
  7. Schedule social media and blog posts each week.
  8. Create comprehensive task management.
  9. Build a database for work related items.
  10. Revise my writing methods.
  11. Build my daily writing platform. Define my reasons to write and goals.
  12. Craft my visual determination board.
  13. Plan my 2 serials for the year.

You’ll notice some are crossed out or changed. This is because I’ve already made some progress on this list – I got started the last week of November and have been pushing like mad. I feel invigorated and excited! I’m ready for 2017 and I have success in my path.

Well, then there is the question of my goals. What are my goals? What is my resolution? I only have one resolution: Become a stronger creator.

I’m sure people are sighing. My resolution seems very anticlimactic, but hang on. This resolution has some lofty goals attached to it. Each goal takes me one step closer to my resolution and puts a stronger foundation beneath myself. I’m making up for eight years of failure.

So, without any more rambling, here are my goals in order to grow as a creator in 2017.

  1. Complete 2 manuscripts, including editing.
  2. Submit 1 manuscript to agents.
  3. Finish my children’s book.
  4. Craft more in my free time.
  5. Read more books – not just instructional or educational.
  6. Complete 2 full serials on my website.
  7. Keep a strong, tight schedule of blogging.
  8. Start a Youtube channel.
  9. Organize and write 3 more manuscripts.
  10. Draw more often.
  11. Write EVERY DAY
  12. Enter at least 5 contests.
  13. Stay organized.

These are fairly straight-forward. Writing everyday is a big one. I use to do it all the time. I definitely miss it.

Well then everyone, what are your goals and how do you plan to reach them?