Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Expanding on the Master Chapter List.

A few weeks ago we talked about master chapter lists. Usually, I make the list after I write the rough draft. This time as I draft a rough things are different. I have a one year old who thinks his life goal is to drive me nuts. Using my old "just rely on the structure page" is not working. I have so little time to draft and my attention is scattered all over.

So I altered my plans a little. This time, instead of writing them down after I write the chapter, I took the entire storyline and wrote them down on index cards. Scene by scene. Then I took the cards and taped them to the door to my office. It didn't matter how I put the up as long as I had room at the top of the door to start putting them up in the right order.

I grouped scenes together like everything that went with PP1, mid point, and PP2. and started to tape them in order starting at chapter one. I walked away from it for about 15 minutes so I could look at it with fresh eyes. When I was sure the order was right I numbered them before I took them off the door.

Now I have a master chapter/scene list and so when I have a little snippet of time I know exactly where I am going and what scene I need to write.

It's worked so well the last few days, I think I might do this every time. It tells me where I need to go but it provides me with the pantsing freedom that I seem to require to draft.

It's a win win.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Parallel Novels and Anchor Characters and Worlds

There's a type of series that are called Parallel Novels. Where the main character isn't consistent in all of the books. Where the setting and world details are the same, or the the worlds are all in the same galaxy. And the MC of one book is a secondary character in the other.

I am totally in love with the idea of these novels. I love series, and getting to know the world and characters better. I love parallel novels even more because I get to see more of the world and meet more of the characters. Not just the world according to one MC.

Sherrilyn Kenyon does parallel novels well. Her League and Dark Hunter books are excellent examples of novels with the same characters and world but with different people as Main Characters. Melissa Marr is also really good at parallel novels in her Wicked Lovely series.

In writing my book, I have developed an amazing world. At least I think so. I had two series planned one is four books with the MC of the first book and a second three books with the first MC's son. About a year ago I had an awesome idea for a scifi/steampunk YA adventure. I began to work on it in my head and jot down notes. Then I realized this was an extreme prequel to my series and was on the same world.

I refused to accept it for a long while. I almost felt it was cheating. But after a few months I realized that indeed it was the same world just hundreds of years in the past. Then I also realized that with this book I had an opportunity to create an amazing world and have a lot of fun with it.

Since then I have added another trilogy to this same world, and two stand alones. (at least in ideas and plotting out books) As the idea of the story became parallel instead of series, I became more excited. I also have a few novel ideas in an Urban Fantasy world. I'm excited to get working on them too.

So what makes it a parallel novel(s)?

Anchor characters and anchor worlds.

Anchor characters are a character that is seen in all of the novels. Or you might see a handful of characters throughout the books but there is always at least one.

In my Emergence world there are three main characters, one in each series/trilogy. But my anchor character(s) isn't one of them. He is a secondary character in all of the books though. He's a genius inventor and entrepreneur from Australia. He is the character that links all of the books together. I also created a character that although he is almost non existent in four of the books, (but is mentioned in a round about way) is a larger character in the others. He IS is the fix to a universal plot hole in all of the books.

Another type of parallel anchor is world or setting. If you have a world that is unique and interesting you might want to revisit it again and again with different characters.

While two of my series books and one stand alone in the "parallel universe" are based on Earth. The other trilogy/series, and the one extreme prequel is on another world.

In this way, everything is connected by either world or character and you get to enjoy many different places and characters as well as keep up on some old favorites.

Give them a try, I hope you decide you like them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lessons Learned

At the moment, I am editing as well as drafting. While I am awaiting the release of my first tech suspense, I am writing a new YA scifi/steampunk, and editing the #2 book to the one being released this summer.

This sweep is probably the tenth or eleventh time I have gone over the book in preperation for it's submission to my publisher. I am down to the point where I am making tiny little adjustments. Adding or subtracting words, punctuation, rearranging sentences for clarity and deleting fluff. The major stuff is all done. Chapters added, plot holes fixed, character developement polished.

So yesterday I sat down and re-numbered my chapters. I will not be adding anything major to the MS and felt safe making sure they were all in order and no numbers were off.

This is where the little lesson comes in.

After I write the rough draft I take a seperate document and make a "master chapter outline". It's usually about four pages long and includes the chapter number, the "unofficial" title* of the chapter, the plot reasons for the chapter, and a short synopsis. *unofficial title: a word or short phrase that gives me a clue as to what the chapter is about. IE the begining chapter of soon to be released book is titled "blood". Have I intrigued you yet? LOL

THIS document is my lifeline for the duration of the story. I print a copy of it and paste it into my project notebook. I also take this notebook everywhere I go. If I have an idea or an epiphany it goes into this book.

Back to the chapter outline though.

As I re-numbered the chapters I found two problems. I'd written down two chapter entries for a chapter I eventually didn't split, so I had an extra number. I'd also forgotten to add in four chapters as I wrote them into the MS. So instead of 46 chapters I actually have 49. Talk about messing with my allready addled brain.

While this "master chapter outline" saves me TONS of time. (Being able to "see" the book in four pages.) Forgetting to add those chapters and not correcting the non-split, messed with my productivity and took almost an hour out of time I could have have been doing something else.

I am sure there were reasons, whether good or bad, that I didn't update my list. But I have learned my lesson. I will definitely not avoid updating on purpose again. I'd rather take a few minutes on occasion than hours fixing it later.

This method works for me. It might not work for you. But hey its worth trying anything once right?

Monday, June 4, 2012

A little sweepstakes for my birthday

June is my Birthday month. I'm officially 43 years young. In honor of my birthday and my new office I will be giving away two awesome books. they are the LDStorymakers Guides to Writing and Getting Published. I actually found that I have two copies of each book and thought that I should gift them to someone who needs them.

So if you comment on any of my posts this month I will count you in the "bowl" of names. And one lucky person will get both books. (They are kind of a set and really do go together.)

Other good news is my book Emergence might be out this month or the next. Stay tuned for all of the hullabaloo surounding the release.