1. ILaughAtTrailers
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    ILaughAtTrailers Member

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    Trying to figure out the structure of my series

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ILaughAtTrailers, Oct 4, 2016.

    I have these fourteen characters. They each have their own agendas and goals and sometimes come in contact with each other. There's romance, battles, torture, running from the law, crimes, magical powers, fantasy, side characters, sacrifices, corrupt government, war, magical items, magical beasts, deception, redemption, and much more. It sounds like Game of Thrones but it's not about kings or queens or power. It's about a race of people on the run from the government that want to kill them. The people then take over this corrupt government and own their right to live. Something like that.

    I don't know what to do. I don't know how to put it in order. I've tried doing sticky notes and putting it in order but there's too much. I have tried "just starting" but there's so many failed first drafts that I have started that it must be in hundreds by now. I have tried putting them in chapters and episodes forever but I can't seem to ever get it right. I'm really trying to outline it first before I begin to write the thing. I don't consider myself a very good writer (as my posts in the novel section will show you) but I love this story so much that I can't wait to get it on paper.

    I don't know whether to start them together or in different places and I don't know what the incident is that gets them started. I just have these scenes in my head that they're in that I want to write for them. I need help. I need an idea. I need something to help me outline this. I need a person I can shoot ideas off of and someone who can ask me questions. I wish I could just write this down already but I can't. I try everyday but I can't. There's so many failed drafts that I don't know what to do anymore. I don't know what works or what doesn't anymore.
     
  2. Grub-r
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    Grub-r Member

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    You say you have a bunch of scenes in your head, is there some sort of timeline that they follow? Does one scene have to happen before another can take place? Even some minor detail like one scene happens in the morning and one at night.

    If possible draw a line on a piece of paper, get some of those post-it flags and give each scene a title. Try to place them on your line. Even if you split them evenly by morning and night, you've cut it down by half. If you can add midday in there you have 3 piles. Early evening, now 4 even smaller piles.

    I'm just using time of day as an example. it could be or include (even better): Days of the week, months, years. Events. Even places.

    Without really knowing the specifics of what your writing, perhaps even what makes those scenes separate in your mind can help guide you to where they belong.

    you stated
    Are there scenes that happen before they run? when they start to run? Do they band together? (at that point you can start to bring some characters together) Overthrow the government?

    It sounds like you have the rough timeline of the plot already, just try to plug in the scenes first into some kind of order and then worry about how they connect to one another.
     
  3. IHaveNoName
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    IHaveNoName Active Member

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    I'm in kind of the same boat you are - I came up with an idea many years ago, wrote 8-10 pages, came up with a bunch of notes, and then let it sit for years, because I'm a pantser and I had only a vague idea of the plot. When I was finally inspired to really work on it again, I ended up dumping out almost 70K words. Problem is, only 10K of it is at the beginning - the rest is scenes scattered all over the story, things that popped into my head, things that were pestering me to write them. Finally, I had to sit down and actually work on building the world, and after awhile I realized that those scenes I was writing were my subconscious trying to help me figure out what was going on. Course, I've had to heavily revise my plot, and I'll probably end ditching a good 20K words and rewriting the rest, but now I have a much better vision of my story.

    So, what I'm saying is this: Try writing out those the scenes, and don't worry about them being perfect, or even good. Just write them. For me, getting things out of my head and onto paper helps to "iron out the kinks", as it were - I can see where things are missing, find plot holes, and get new ideas - and with that out of my head, it frees up space for new scenes to come forth.
     
  4. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    So - not sure how helpful this is, but as another person who has a massive series in his head and is trying to figure out how to actually operationalize this world, these are some of the things I've tried to do. They're more "tough love" type of things, but I've found them important and effective.

    Item 1) Don't write the series, write the first book. If you choose to seek publication, you sell book one as a "standalone with series potential."

    Item 2) Per Item 1, your first book should work as a standalone - which is to say that it wraps up nicely in a way that the reader feels like they've read a complete story even if they never pick up Book 2 (this is practical, because there is no guarantee Book 2 will ever be published - whereas if you get to Book 2 there's a really good chance you'll get Book 3 as well).

    Item 3) Book 1 - and frankly the others as well - will need a somewhat defined main character and a slightly more limited cast. This means you are going to have to "triage" your fourteen characters and decide which are most important to the story. Some of them may barely appear in this book, if at all, because you need to focus on your protagonist and the people immediately around them. How you decide that is up to you, but I'd try to identify a more limited story-within-the-larger-story that serves as your starting point - then throw in four or five people who you know are going to be your core cast and the rest will have to wait.

    I break a lot of these rules myself and pay for it (especially regarding cast size, although there are important characters who I'm forcing to wait their turn). But I think they're pretty solid. If you can break out a smaller story, which you can then outline if you like, you will have a more easily-managed project compared to eating the whole giant series elephant all at once.
     
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  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also - as an addendum - even if you're writing an ensemble cast, it's worth knowing with certainty who the main character in the series is. If you know whose story you're telling, it helps you prioritize information and events in terms of their importance to that character's journey.
     

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