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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) | 67 comments I'm wondering how other authors plan out their books, how you put together your ideas and organise them into a coherent whole?

For my first few books (none of which have been published) I adopted the obvious approach of planning each book in isolation. With hindsight I think this led to rather flat plot lines and much missed potential.

In the last couple of years, I've taken to planning several books ahead, usually in decreasing detail as you get further away from the next couple on my project list. I did this as my current books are a series and I thought it would help continuity, but it's turned into a wonderful source of inspiration. The amount of times I've come up an idea for one of the more distant books and then ended up using it to enrich the one I'm working on now. Sometimes this can be as extreme as combining two books into one.

The result is often much more intensive storylines, more twists, more 'cool' moments and general (I believe) a better experience for my readers.

So, I'm intrigued to find out if anyone else plans their novels in a similar way?

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) | 67 comments Anyone?

message 3: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Eliason (RachelEliason) I use storybook to lay out my novels on a storyboard. It works great for me. Most of my writing is individual novels, not series so I can't say much about writing series.

message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) | 67 comments I tried various bits of software to plan everything out a few years ago, but never really got on with it. I can away from the experience thinking that if I was planning a murder mystery or thriller it would work very well, but throw interstellar space travel, time-dilation and a single-book plot covering 13 years and the software just isn't tuned for that.

I don't know if any of the software packages out there are setup for series? I've ended up with a very large spreadsheet to do that - each column is a book, each row a moment in time. That works very well and lets me see how the books overlap. For example, Book 5 is set entirely in the middle of Book 1, but following mostly different characters in a different location. Although each book is designed to work as a standalone read, I have to make sure that they all tie up and there are no contradictions.

I'm sure my description above sounds much more complicated than it really is. My spreadsheet is more of a continuity aid, rather than direct planning.

message 5: by Richard (new)

Richard Sharp (RichardSharp) | 1 comments I find that I need to find an anchor or perhaps a pivot point, some event, place that sets the theme and atmosphere for the book. That is always my starting point and it may come at the beginning, somewhere in the middle or the end of the work or in the ending. Once the work (novel in my case) is tethered to that point it gives the author a lot of flexibility to work forward or backwards, using a test of relevance to develop scenes, characters and plot lines. For me, at least, that is more productive than trying to start from a killer opening line or backward from a dramatic conclusion.

message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) | 67 comments That's a very good point, Richard. I often find that entire book plots grow out of a scene or a single idea/twist.

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