1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    When planning a series..

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lea`Brooks, Jul 29, 2015.

    My current WIP is the first book of two (possibly three, if I start planning it and realize I have enough content to split it up). I already have the first book completely planned, chapter by chapter, ready to start writing as soon as my wisdom tooth extraction heals enough to get me off medicine. :p

    My question is, should I plan my second novel before I start writing the first?

    I know with J.K. Rowling, it took her forever to write the second Harry Potter book because she was planning all of the other books at the same time. And I have a book about writing a series that suggests doing it this way, so that you can drop in little clues in the preceding books to make them more connected. Plus, the book suggests it keeps me (the writer) from writing myself into a plot hole later in the series.

    Has anyone ever done it this way? Does it work, or is it a waste? Opinions? :)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    The way I am currently doing it is:

    Wrote the guideline for my first book (because if I don't then I can't write long books), then started actually writing my first book and am half-way through it and now I am working on my second book (so far it is just basics of what is going to be in it).
     
  3. AspiringNovelist
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    AspiringNovelist Contributing Member

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    Hmmm. I don't have any real experience in this, but if I were to write a series rather than a single novel, I'd probably write three quick epilogues as guidelines. The first epilogue to resolve the first book, then carry over to the second book. The second epilogue to resolve the second book, then carry over to the third book. The final epilogue would resolve the story.
     
  4. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Also shortly after figuring out the second book I started getting ideas for the third. In reality though my first book isn't really connected to the other two other than the ending of the first starts off the major events of the next two.
     
  5. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect she was also trying to find out whether The Philosopher's Stone would get published. After all, that took from 1990 to 1995 to write, and she began a teacher training course - presumably as insurance - while she was waiting to get it published, and it's possible that she may have found her time a little restricted for writing. Especially as she was by then a single mother.

    But to the OP, it seems somewhat ahead of yourself to formally plot the sequel to a novel that may never get published, may never even get finished. With my own WIP, I can see the possibility of it being part of a series, but I'll cross that bridge when/if I ever get it finished!
     
  6. Chewie
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    Chewie Member

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    When I was writing my first book, I had an idea that I wanted to write a series but I didn't really plan anything out. As I was writing the first one small little plot points came into my mind. I put them all in another little file and went back to them once I finished my first draft. I was then able to plan out my ideas for future books and on my second draft I started adding or re-writing bits to connect to future books.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Why are you doing a series?

    If it's a continuing story (a Book One, Book Two and Book Three, like the Lord of the Rings) I assume you know where you're going with it and how it all will end. JK Rowling wrote hers that way. She said she knew exactly how the saga would end all along. If you're doing that, you'll need to make sure all the pieces move towards that goal. It's essentially one long story arc which gets developed over a long period. It's tricky. I figure an outline is essential to start with, if you're not going to totally lose control of it.

    If each of your books is a stand-alone story set in the same world, time period, family or whatever, that's a bit easier. All you need to do is make sure nothing you do in later books contradicts what you've set up in the first one. That's a bit tricky, too, but easier to pull off.

    I know I've salted a few details into my first book that don't figure in that particular story, but will be there in future books, should I decide to write them. Once a character is born, you can't change his birthday in later books, so that kind of stuff needs to be consistent. But with a series of stand-alone stories, you don't have a single story arc you need to stay with. You should probably keep a timeline as you write, so details like when a character was born, or when he and his family moved somewhere, or when somebody died is easy to backcheck as you write. But you don't really need an outline. A timeline is more like a diary. It's an ongoing record of what has happened—not a plan for what will happen.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
  8. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I originally didn't plan on making it a series. I felt I could fit it all into one book. But as I started planning, I realized it was moving too fast and I was missing proper character development and losing drama because of it. So I cut it in half and found that it worked much better. I made sure to end my first book so that it could stand on it's own though.

    As for how the series ends, I have a vague idea. lol I know the bad guy and his minions. But how he's defeated, I haven't really worked out yet. And since this bad guy is barely even mentioned in the first book, I didn't think about it too much. That's partly why I felt it might be important to plan the second book before I start writing. Ideas seem to come to me easier when I'm laying out chapters versus just brainstorming. It helps me to let the story tell itself instead of me forcing it.

    Yanno.. Nevermind. :) Everyone writes their own way. I'll probably go ahead with this just for my own sanity.

    But thanks everyone! :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
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  9. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    if you don't mind my asking, how many first draft novels have you completed?
     
  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't say I have experience in actually executing this, but I think it's something a lot of people do naturally. So as long as it doesn't interfere with actually writing the first one (and that's a really big, important consideration) go for it. The one hitch being make sure the "first book" in the "series" works as a satisfying standalone - as there's no guarantee you'll get a second one published and you want your reader to feel good at the end of the book so they come back for the second one.

    I'm writing my first novel, but I know my overarching plot is planned to spread into four parts, of which I'm only writing the first. That's the problem when you toy with a story in your head for eight years, never knowing whether you're actually going to write the thing...then decide randomly that it's time to finally sit down and write it...it's too big and you just have to bite off one little chunk. I still know the whole thing, and I treat it as one story in my head - so I can't avoid mentally spending time in what I think of as "Act 3" or "the middle" when in actuality that material is two books ahead of where I am. Light bulbs go off all the time about what happens down the road, and those actually inform some of the stuff I put into the one I'm writing now. In a lot of ways those are more interesting to me, plotwise, than what I'm writing, because the first part of the story is the part I've known the longest, and has the smallest climax. But they key thing is that I still have to buckle down and write THIS BOOK before I spend too much effort on the next one. For me that's very hard to control, but an important skill to work on. Strangely enough, part of my "blowing off steam" from the later plot has been to commission artwork on Deviant Art reflecting scenes or characters that haven't been written yet and won't be for some time...that way the ideas that bother me are outside my head, I feel like I've done something with them, and I can look at them on a page as a goal without having to invest thought and effort into writing them.
     
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