This evening, I went for a little wander into town, picked up some supplies and popped in a few shops. “Hey”, you say, “weren’t you supposed to be planning that novel?”
I find the best way to plan a story, is to step away from it. A walk, a shopping trip, a movie, anything to reset the brain so you can look at it afresh is so much better than just staring at a blank screen all evening with writer’s block. I’ll often be out walking and an idea will just pop into my head
I have a lot to consider and my trip resolved a lot. I’ve decided for the sake of planning to treat it as a 5 book sequence, even though I’m pretty sure it’ll only be 4 books. Better to do that and merge books 3 and 4 than have to pick things apart mid-series.
My work on what I’ve now decided is book 2 has convinced me of the magic system I want to use in the books, and I’m not kidding you when I say I think it’ll be one of the book’s strengths. I want the intensity to build over each novel but still have book 1 be totally kick-ass, so I’ve been thinking about that.
To help me I’ve created a spreadsheet, listed books 1 thru 5 down the side and listed what the key magic moment is for each one beside it. Hopefully, this will help ensure that the story really grows with each novel.
I also want the overall 5 book arc to have a pace to it so I have a column I’ve called ‘Secrets’ and in it I’ve listed what the big reveal is for each book. This has really helped because already I can start to see where some things come a bit unknotted in book 3.
Then I have the characters, and have listed in each of them a couple of word summary of what their character arc is for each book. Again, I’m able to see areas of concern, such as books where characters don’t really grow emotionally.
I’m not usually a huge fan of such organised planning. I tend to work things out in my head, but I did some spreadsheet based planning on a first draft of another book I wrote last year and I found that amazingly helpful.
I still need to drill down into book one and go into more details on the character arcs. I’m aware that turning the original novel into two, certain elements need to be moved forwards and I’ve come to the conclusion that the New Salisbury needs expanding to serve that purpose. I also need to get my aforementioned epic magic moment in.
So long as I get to the end I have already drafted I want pretty much is everything is up for grabs. I’d decided in the previous draft that Maureen’s story needed to be a little darker to offset the humour of her character, and I think Darwin’s thread can have the tension ratcheted up.
I’m also asking myself a lot of questions like some petulant child. Why are characters doing this? What’s their motivation? Why do this when they could do that? It’s enough to make your head spin.
And hence that’s why I plan to retire to bed early tonight and read. Flush everything out my brain so I can look at it afresh tomorrow morning. I’ve made good progress tonight but there’s still a long way to go, so I need to make sure I feed my brain with books and entertainment to keep the levels of creativity up.