Question is at bottom When I pan out a story it's kind of an entire process. Let's imagine it's the same as creating a golden statuette. First you have to find the rare unprocessed ore, refine it, then sculpt it. I get bursts of inspiration, and at the time I feel it's the greatest story ever, I later realize that it has to be worked on until it can become more usable. For instance I'll start off with the idea that I potentially want a series. My next thought is that I want the series to not have the hindrance of being stuck to a particular linear plot. If I focused on a specific period in time, on our current adaption of the planet, and was historically accurate... I would be limited. If I was to adapt a more sci-fiction aspect and open up myself to this galaxy (John Carter in a sense), I would still be limited by the knowledge of what is known. If I bypass this solar system and open myself up to the entire universe the only limitation is my imagination. Any form of planet can be imaged and any life form as well. My first thought was that I simply wanted more options to branch out for a later date. I took this idea and worked with, feeding off the books I had been reading at the time, but ultimately it all sorted blended into a the realm of nonsense (black holes to negate the need to justify time lapses, omniscient being(s) to explain everything i.e. most religions, humanity on the brink of being well played out, etc.). It took almost two years of throwing out an incredible different variety of ideas until one just... made a lot of sense. At the same time I was able to come up with another potentially marketable book series. The only problem I'm facing with that one is whether to make it more serious or humorous. I think I'm going to try both and see which one comes off more to more liking... but that's another story. I know EXACTLY what my plot outline is now, but the problem I'm facing is how to decide on the other factors? How many characters should I encompass? What difficulties should I give my main and supporting characters? How much should I give in dividends towards their achievement(s)? How do I appropriate a well corresponding ratio between success and failure between a series? Should the first book be a cliffhanger of potential repercussions or a heartfelt ending designed to cling to those heartstrings? I have a general outline of how I want the story to play out, which includes a beginning and a series end. I could start off with the M.C. developing at a younger age or skip a few years and use a back-shadowing moment to explain what could have previously taken 1-3 books. If I started at a younger age I would have to encompass other characters that would go past the traditional supporting role, though could later be taken out entirely. How does everyone feel about that? Eliminating a character that was presented a larger role simply to fill a gap needed to bring attention to the development of another character? I'm leaning towards going the younger age route and placing my M.C. in a specific timeline that can be "shortened" due to special circumstances. Age is not as reflective in this story as potentially that of others, after all. It's more a story of reflecting a personal commitment and growth into a tangible reward. Few things I need to iron out, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm sure I can figure all of this eventually out by myself, but I was mainly just ranting and letting my own juices start flowing. My real question is... when faced with alternate plot lines how do you decide which should be used and which should be eliminated? What makes you decide... this is what my story should be like. This is the problems my characters should face. This is the ending I envisioned.