1. ShadowKyogre
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    ShadowKyogre Member

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    Do people plan out a series or just write what they think along?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by ShadowKyogre, Aug 5, 2009.

    I was thinking of planning out a series...but I have no idea if I should immediately plan the plot line or just start writing a story and see if people want me to continue?

    Do any of the great writers plan their series in the first place before writing it? :confused:
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    JK Rowling planned out the whole of the Harry Potter series fairly strictly, I believe.

    I'm not sure about others. Stephen King's Dark Tower series wasn't planned out from the beginning, I don't think, but then he did write it over about a 30 year period.

    Do whatever you prefer, basically.
     
  3. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make sure that each book in a series can stand alone, as a book that is obviously part of a series will not be accepted by publishers who are unsure about whether it will actually sell.
     
  4. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    for me I think its going to need a bit of both. I've planned book one and currently in edit/rewrite stage. During the 2 yrs i've been at it, the next couple of books stroll into your head. For instance i know the general plot of my next story, but ofcourse that is very flexible. as for the last book, i only have a vague idea of what will happen but i know it will come to me.

    But yerr, planning i think, one can get hooked up in the research that they forget to write and create, which is where ideas generally come as you see what characters do and develop as you write.

    RM
     
  5. RIPPA MATE
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    very true.
     
  6. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Sitting down with no plot or any ideas for a plot is too intimidating for me. I can't do it. Before I sit down to write, I need a general idea of where I am going, else I just sit for hours staring at the blank page.
    Before I could even begin my book, I needed a general idea of a plot. Specifics were worked out along the way, as holes were discovered, but it was a starting point.
     
  7. murphcas
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    murphcas Member

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    I agree with Elistara. I usually need some sort of plot to start writing, even if it's just a tiny part of it. I would suggest thinking of what you want to happen in the series overall. I also agree that your books should be able to stand alone. There are plenty of series that are series and they don't leave you with a cliff hanger at the end of the book.
     
  8. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Particularly from a first-time author. If your story can stand alone, then it's more likely to get picked up, and then if it is successful, you'll likely find it a lot easier to get subsequent sequels published.
     
  9. I'interieur de ame
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    I'interieur de ame Banned

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    I think that everyone plans out their writing in one way or another. I have to plot and plan and look over everything before choosing which way I want to go. I would say that all writers great or small plan in one form.
     
  10. hawkedup
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    hawkedup Member

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    I have a very rough outline of my entire series. When I say rough, I mean that it's detailed but I have no qualms about changing things when I need to. Because of the format of the book (chapters resembling interconnected short stories) I'm able to outline the book by chapter names and general ideas first. Then I go back and I write about a page describing everything I want to happen in each story. After that the writing comes easily.
     
  11. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think for a series to be cohesive and to achieve the greatest impact with your plot points, the entire series should be outlined before you start writing. J K Rowling did it and thats how everything fell in to place in the latter books. If you do this then you can sew seemingly insignificant seeds in the first book that can flourish in the subsequent volumes and escalate to a thrilling and epic climax in the last book, a conclusion that was beyond the scope of any single book.

    The last thing you want is to be writing book 4 and realize that the hero's brother shouldn't have died in book 2 because he would have made the ideal villainous mastermind that was behind all the tragedies that the mc had suffered.
     
  12. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Both. I have in my mind what I want to write, but at the moment of doing so I improvise some parts or add some tid-bits here and there... It's like when you leave your home. Most people don't leave without their keys or their wallets, but even with these one might not now what's going to happen 'til the end of the day. Yes, you need to "prepare" an outline, but the outcome might be different than planned.

    Just my five cents. :)
     
  13. Ice
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    The question's already been adequately answered, but I can't be bothered to get my ass in gear and read the thread so I apologize if I'm repeating.

    Series are usually planned ahead if they have an overarching plot. Examples would be ... well, almost every series in the fantasy and historical fiction genres.

    If they don't have an overarching plot, they may or may not be planned. These tend to be your suspense dime-a-dozens (e.g., anything by James Patterson) and mysteries with a recurring detective or sleuth (e.g., Dennis Lehane's Kenzie series).

    Of course, there can be planned (as far as I know) mystery/suspense series (e.g., Peter Steiner's Morgon series) or an unplanned (as far as I know) fantasy series (e.g., Steven Brust's Taltos series).

    It doesn't really matter. If you're writing a series with a grand, overarching scheme, you should probably plan it out ahead of time, or at least before you finish the second book. If you're doing mostly standalone novels, it doesn't make a difference.
     
  14. g1ng3rsnap9ed
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    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

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    Depends, I s'pose. Some people prefer to have everything written out beforehand and some enjoy finding out as they go. Personally I do a little bit of both, as in I don't write the entire plot down, but if I come up with an important idea I do not want to forget I will write it down on a piece of notebook paper and leave it in the back of the notebook I'm using.

    PS: This is my first Post in what seems like ages! :D
     
  15. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Haha, yeah. When I saw your username I thought, "Hey, I haven't seen her around in a while." So, how's life for you? :)
     
  16. Lijde
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    I'd recommend at least getting a rough outline written down so you have something to refer to.

    For me, I do outlines by scenes, and along side those I put little notes on the characters, settings, action sequence, etc,. I keep an overall outline in my head, but do specifc outlines for each chapter.

    But I also find it's fun to write whatever comes to mind, but those are usually short stories for me. I almost always write with some sort of plan.
     
  17. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    You need to decide which you prefer. I suggest experimenting with a series of short stories. I think you should at least have a basic plot in mind before you start writing a series, but you don't have to follow a strict outline unless that works best for you.
    ~Eliza
     
  18. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    It's a matter of personal preference. Simply do what works best for you and don't worry about what 'people' do.
     
  19. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    Something that I've noticed (specifically in movie trilogies) is that the first of a series will be stand alone, and then the second and third will be almost completely dependent on each other. While I can understand why things would be done that way (no one knew Star Wars would be such a hit, and George Lucas had actually planned to have the sequel end up as a book if the first didn't sell well), in some cases there's really no excuse for it (Pirates of the Caribbean is based on one of the greatest theme park rides of all time, and is by Disney. That's almost a no brainer).

    I think that it would be good if people were either willing to take the chance and make all three books were intertwined, or that all three parts of a trilogy were able to stand on their own and still be together. Though the second is harder and the first is riskier.
     
  20. essential life
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    I think it's absolutely essential to have a plan.

    Look at something like Robert Jordan's (may he rest in peace) Wheel of Time. I don't if he really had it planned out or not, but it sure as heck didn't seem like it and he lost me about midway through the series.
     
  21. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nah RJ definitely had a plan. nobody sets out to write a twelve book series without knowing the beginning the end and a rough idea of how to bridge the two. He just made that plan too elaborate for anybody who wasn't actively trying to memorize character names, and diligently jotting down summaries of the one or two scenes per a book in which each of them appeared.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's circular reasoning, Joker. Jordan had to have a plan because everyone who writes a complex series has to have a plan in advance, thus illustrating with The Wheel of Time that complex series must have an advance plan.

    An alternate interpretation: After a book or two, a rough idea began to form to extend what was written as a full cycle. Knowing in detail the first two pieces, and now with a general long term objective in mind, he writes the rest of the series, and as he proceeds, his vision for the whole develops and sharpens.

    Maybe he did have a plan from the outset. But unless you have his own comments to draw upon, how can you know how he developed the roadmap before he started writing the series?
     
  23. The-Joker
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    I guess its just a gut feeling from reading the books ( the first six anyway). Each one had a partial conclusion, but there were so many storylines occuring simultaneously and many of them didn't recieve any semblance of resolution at the end of whichever books they featured in, it felt like they were part of one long twelve thousand page story. But perhaps you're right about the first two books written independant of any preconceived road map. As far as I can remember they were the best formed out of the lot. The second one, The Great Hunt, was Jordan at his best. But even those weren't self contained in any way.

    If he did do what you're suggesting, then when he had to write the outline of each of the next ten books, the plot would have been circumscribed by what he'd already written in the first two. He wouldn't be able to include anything that conflicted with those books. And if he did, then he'd have to find some way of writing himself out of the inconsistency which would involve more words and an even more complicated plot.

    Considering the the sheer complexity of his latter works, maybe thats exactly what happened...

    In which case, you two are probably right
     
  24. Michael5188
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    Michael5188 New Member

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    When the topic of first time authors writing series comes up I'm always curious. Is the publisher weary of taking the chance because they aren't sure if the book will be commercially successful? Or are they concerned that the author hasn't proven they can consistently produce quality work, and the remaining books in the series could flop? Or is it a mix of the two?

    In other words, would a publisher be more willing to take a chance on a first time author's series if they had already completed the entirety of it and the publisher could see the quality of all of the books is steady?

    As for the topic, I've never attempted a series myself, but from reading them I feel it's essential to plan a certain amount. As a reader I find a tidbit from the beginning playing a large role later down the road extremely satisfying for some reason. I also find it brilliant when an author can lead me to remember a little, seemingly unimportant fact from the start throughout the entire book, without leading me to realize it is important until the right time.
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    definitely both... the first book has to prove itself with the reading/book-buying public, by hitting [and 'having legs' on] the bestseller list and the writer has to prove her/himself with subsequent books quality-wise, so it's extremely rare for a publisher to contract for a series from a beginner...

    ...still only in extremely rare cases, since the first book usually has to first gain a huge following, to make publishing sequels a sound economic option... and until the first one is out there and selling, no one can really tell if it'll hit the top, or not...
     

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