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I've spent this week going over the ideas I have for later on in my story. These are ideas I brainstormed in the year before I started writing. During that year, the plan to use looser right-brained techniques to come up with stories ideas, which I did, and eventually I developed something resembling an outline from them, but I had little enthusiasm for it. That's when I decided to just plunge into the story by the seat of my pants like I did in the old days and hope the act of writing and the developing characters would reveal the story to me. This has not been entirely successful, either, and so we are back to thinking about the larger story again, the characters, where I'd like them to go.

And I'm ok with that, too, the eternal dance between the forest and the trees.

One thing I've realized this week is that there are too many stories I want to tell all at once, and I am trying to tell them all in one novel. Now, the simple reply to that is, "Concentrate on one character, one story, and write a book series for the others." Except that all of the stories occur simultaneously and are interconnected. Gee...just like my last novel. Now one idea I had was to write a series that tells the same story, each time from a separate point of view. Or, write one long story in such a way that it has convenient stopping points in mid-stream, so that book one is part one, and then the story continues in the next novel.

Then I smack myself and say, "You haven't even scratched the surface of the first one, and you're planning a series? Get back to writing."

It's just...I can't stop myself from writing all of them at once. I can't.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 10th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
I generally end up with several stories going at once many of them meant to be in a series so I'll probably be of no help with this
Apr. 10th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
Well, how do you juggle them all?
Apr. 11th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
usually one of two ways

I can handle writing two or three at once and I generally do that. If that's overwhelming me, I take the one whose talking the loudest and work on that one alone for a while.

I have, however, learned to take notes on scene ideas for the ones I can't get to immediately or I will forget and if it is a series I write out vague time line notes
Apr. 11th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a reasonable way to go on all counts. Especially the part about jotting down ideas on the ones you're not working on actively so you have them when it starts speaking loudest again.
Apr. 11th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
i've tried it the other way,not writing them down. That was ok in my 20s but now, yeah I forget them
Apr. 11th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
Jesus, I *always* write them down!

I have a memory like a sieve.
Apr. 11th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
mine has become one
Apr. 11th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
I did the same thing and wasted months because of it. Several paranormal and regency writers write books that happen simultaneously. One of my favorites, Kresley Cole's, last two books were this way. The reader, especially in paranormal, will accept events that aren't fully explained. In the first book, the younger has to get a sword for the older to use. When the younger gives the older the sword, the older looks like a mad man. In the second book, you find out why. In the first book, the older is missing. In the second, you find out why. If you read them out of order. In the second book, when the younger gives the older the sword, he is upset. In the first book, you find out why. The two books enrich each other, while still allowing the reader/writer to maintain focus.

Especially when mania hits, focusing is very difficult. Fortunately, I've learned a few tricks along the way. The biggest help is to write the book down in one sentence. You will need this when you pitch later and the sooner you develop it, the more focused you will be. Here's mine:

Lucifer just wants to go home and his only hope lies in an ancient prophecy and a highly intuitive artist who has no idea what she really is; that is if he can find and protect her before the Grigori murder her...again.

You need goal, stakes and conflict stated in that sentence. Anything that doesn't go with that sentence goes in an idea file for future books. One of my secondary characters is Maggie and her story is very compelling, so compelling it's too big for a sub-plot. Her attempt to destroy the Vatican sets up the final battle with the antagonist. The reader will find out why she wants to in the next book. Ideas towards that go to the next book. I even one sentence for that book.

Another thing that helps is to focus on the skeleton of the story created by four acts. This goes back to Plato and stories that work follow it. This doesn't stymie creativity. It frees you. If I work on the hero's story and how it fits those four acts, I get a focused story. Larry Brooks site I gave you earlier really goes into this. Writing by sketching out the milestones keeps the story tight.

Another thing to keep in mind is our job is not to tell a story. It is to get the reader to feel things. People will forget what you do or say. They remember how you make them feel. Crafting your story with this in mind, will help you focus. When you look at the story from different characters, you are trying to craft different feelings. This is the emotional equivalent of head hopping, heart hopping.

Another one is to remind myself I have at max 400 pages/100K. That's it. If other characters hijack the story, there is no way I will make that. They will get cut during the editing process.

There is one more trick. Some characters are persistent and won't leave me alone until they get to talk. I write a short story for them and tell them they'll get more screen time later. The short story doesn't necessarily fit the time frame of the story. More often than not, it doesn't.
Apr. 11th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC)
You need goal, stakes and conflict stated in that sentence

Oh, I'm way ahead of you. I did all that months ago. Worked quite hard on it, and then promptly hated it, felt no "drive" beneath it that made me want to write those characters. So I dumped it, started writing the story by the seat of my pants, and am now, slowly, figuring out who these people *really* are, and now I am getting somewhere close to a position to really write those sentences. I just have some more writing to do.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )