After much discussion with my editor, here’s my to-do list for planning this Thing:
- A bare-bones single-page summary of the series.
This is the 50,000ft view. No subplots. No detail beyond the bare essentials. Not even character descriptions. Just [Name] goes [Here] because [Reason] and finds [Thing], and how it fits together to make a single arc.
- Break out the index cards.
10,000ft. I’ll be working from the summary at this point so I can see the whole picture, but I also have flexibility and a place to note significant details and subplot progression. Significant Tattoo can go on one card, and then I can decide where it fits – do I stick it into the chain of events at wherever I think Book 6 will be, or does it need to be introduced earlier? When do Those Two Characters get married? How much foreshadowing do I need for the Big Villain Reveal? I can go back and change my summary here, too, if I need to.
- The Notebook (or ringbinder, or text doc, or whatever.)
10ft. Now that I know what my overall scheme is, and I have the logical progression of events sorted for plots and subplots and sub-subplots, I can sit down and write detailed drafts. Drafts of these subplots and how they progress over the course of several books. Drafts of synopses for these books – especially that book in the middle which winds up two major subplots and introduces three more. And of course the drafts might result in me going back and changing the index cards around, which might mean more changes to the overall summary. This could get annoying, but if it means a better, cleaner, more complex, tightly woven end product, who am I to complain?
(And at some point I’ll have to decide just how many books this series is going to take. 7 won’t be anywhere near enough. I could maybe squeeze everything important into 14, but I’d have to drop material. I’m not sure that I have /enough/ material to justify 21 books… but I can always come up with more ideas, right? Mark it down as another ‘wait and see’, then.)
So, that’s my plan for the next wee while, in-between juggling working two jobs, editing Chorus, querying Whitu, and everything else that comes with normal life. What are your thoughts? How do you plan your writing?