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How much do you plan your series?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by RavenOfSummer, Dec 12, 2017.

  1. RavenOfSummer

    RavenOfSummer Scribe

    It sounds like you have an abundance of material that is ready to burst into stories! I'm particularly interested in the ideas for your Empire series. My actual professional/academic background is in international politics and international development, with a heavy emphasis on post-war reconciliation in developing nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Based on my experience, conflict recovery is indeed a context that is absolutely teeming with stories about the human experience on every level. I hope you'll continue to write these stories- I would love to read them! I'd also like to try out some of the story challenges here. I'm quite new here so there's a lot for me still to explore :)
  2. LWFlouisa

    LWFlouisa Troubadour

    I hadnt discussed at the time, but I'm wanting to get more into that routine.
    RavenOfSummer likes this.
  3. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    This is the approach I'm taking.
    RavenOfSummer likes this.
  4. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    The 'Labyrinth' and 'Empire' stories take place in the same world at the same time, and grapple with some of the same issues.

    'Labyrinth: Journal' began with an obscure notion from AD&D - the 'endless labyrinth,' presumably patrolled by all manner of beasties. I got to thinking about that. How to build such a creation? Who built it and why? In the process the maze shrunk, though its still roughly 800 miles/1200 kilometers across. The story itself revolves around an aristocratic scion and Traag War veteran who flees into the maze to escape arrest.

    'Labyrinth: Seed' takes up a decade after the end of 'Journal.' It boasts multiple POV characters, one of whom is not even remotely human. The story revolves around a group of characters who join a massive military expedition to fend off a barbarian horde threatening the Empires southern marches. Social and economic themes are explored along the way. Then things turn seriously weird.

    'Empire: Country' begins with a massacre: Lady Tia Samos and her companions stumble across half a dozen dead peasants plus livestock mere moments after they were killed. Tia is the daughter of prosperous commoners, attractive, intelligent, and educated at the prestigious University of Solace. Her parents seek to move up in the world, taking advantage of opportunities reserved for the aristocracy. They decided their best option was to have one of their offspring marry into an impoverished aristocratic clan. The other three principle characters are Tia's employees: Sir Peter Cortez, hero of the Traag War, bastard son of a minor family (being a bastard, his claim to nobility does not transfer), Kyle, a massive brute of a man, former serf, former legionnaire, and petty magician, haunted by his experiences during the war (think PTSD), and Rebecca, a gypsy from a decimated clan who acts as Tia's bard, stylist, and confidant.

    These three books are written, and have been through enough drafts to show to others. Labyrinth: Journal has been shared with a couple others here; Seed needs some editing but is passable. After umpteen attempts, I now have a draft of 'Empire: Country' I deem passable. Provide me with an email address and I shall send you copies.

    Beyond those...

    I am currently working on the first rewrite and expansion of 'Empire: Capital' - a tale of intrigue and assassination. After the events of 'Empire: Country,' Tia and company became the star witnesses in the resulting trial, presided over by the Emperor himself (occasionally). The story opens shortly before sentence is pronounced. Tia hasn't just been testifying, she's been pursuing Knights with an eye towards matrimony. Alas, most of the Knights in the palace are either religious zealots (Tia is dating one) or drunken thugs in armor (Tia is dating one whilst attempting to avoid the attentions of another.) She is also far, far from the only gal at court engaged in this activity.

    'Empire: Capital' leads to 'Empire: Estate.' In my view, this is the Empire story that requires the most work. Basically, Tia and company visit the estate of a powerful aristocrat with an eye towards buying labor (slaves). Slavery is uncommon in this part of the empire - Tia's home province of Equitant is at the center of a sort of industrial revolution (very roughly up to early 19th century tech levels). However, other characters and forces are in play here, including some thought vanquished. The tale ends with Tia making a terrible choice.

    'Empire: Metropolis' exists in first draft form, as do the next two books in the series. It takes place in Corber Port, largest city of the Solarian Empire. Economic chaos and refugees have almost doubled the cities population; it now tops a million souls. Fierce debates between merchants, aristocrats, artisans, and laborers are common, sometimes resulting in massive riots. One such riot, some weeks prior to the stories start, resulted in three major avenues into the city being closed, replaced with a tortuous trail through burned rubble termed the 'Snake.'

    All I will say about 'Empire: Spiral' and 'Empire: Judgment' is that the bulk of these stories take place on different worlds altogether and the Lovecraft/Chambers loom large.
  5. Fluffypoodel

    Fluffypoodel Inkling

    I've planned out quite a bit in the series I'm working on right now. I have character outlines, plot outlines, conflict outlines... then I start writing. I find that I get through a few chapters, maybe 30k words before I have to revisit those outlines and make changes, based on new discoveries while writing. My outline is a work in progress along with my actual WIP. The overall world building doesn't change but it does expand as I strike inspiration or need to solve problems.
    Thoras and Michael K. Eidson like this.
  6. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned


    I wrote alot of background over time, turned them into scripts, designed every character in terms of drawing, and a couple of settings, did a first draft of each graphic novel in pencil, and am working on the second and final draft.
  7. writeshiek33

    writeshiek33 Sage

    I am panster myself so for early stages writes as i go then develop things as i go i use scrivener to to write to keep everything together
    Chessie2 likes this.
  8. The funny thing is, I originally wrote one book, with the notion that I could continue it into a second book. Then I added a third and fourth, and then planned out five more books but didn't get very far. Then, for nearly three years, I worked on making about a quarter of the ideas into one book. Now, one year later, [partially thanks to NaNoWriNo], I've use about a quarter more of the ideas, and suddenly have a five book series [two of which are short story/poem collections] with two more coming and no end in sight.

    I recently rescued my old story files from my old, decrepit laptop, but they are a version of Microsoft Word that is very outdated, and I'm not sure how to convert them to the version I have on my new laptop. I'm not entirely sure if I want to look back at my first attempt at a novel, but I'm keeping all of the files anyway.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
    Chessie2 likes this.
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I don't have a series, but all my stories are set in Altearth, which has a specific history, so I face some of the same challenges. When I say a thing in one story, all subsequent stories have to live with that. As do I.

    So far, my approach has been to leave things undefined for as long as possible. What do orcs look like? Do trolls have kings or war chiefs? Where do elves live? When did gnomes first arrive, and where? And a thousand questions more.

    I have a WorldReference project in Scrivener where I keep notes and speculations. This stuff is malleable. But when I write a story, that becomes like one of those pivotal points in the Doctor Who world. They cannot be changed.

    Over time, the more I write, the less flexibility I will have. I'm guessing that this is not unlike planning a series. Once Volume One is in print, there's no takesy-backsy, and the writer may come to rue a choice made in an earlier volume. Consider it a business risk and go forward.
  10. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    Do you have a series bible? Seems like it might come in handy. I have to dig into previous manuscript files and hunt down information that I can't remember. Usually dates and character names.
  11. LWFlouisa

    LWFlouisa Troubadour

    One peculiarity I'm experiencing is, because everything is kind of pre world built and outlined, I'm not having to outline as much as I used to.
  12. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    Definitely keep the files. They can be converted. A couple years ago I did the same thing with a few 20 year-old story files, and I'm trying to remember how I converted them. I'll send you a PM when my more tech-oriented wife gets home and maybe we can get those converted for you.
  13. Thank you kindly! :)
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    I’m writing a trilogy that will expand into a series that runs to the end of the world... The gods only know how many books that’ll take, heh heh. I use the term waypoint writer. I know key events, in particular how things end. I also know necessary waypoints that will occur, but how the characters and world get there is often in the air.
  15. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

    I just finished up a trilogy (third/final book should be out in March) that built on a previous trilogy. The first trilogy was definitely planned out and a bit of a continuing story; the second group of three books came a bit more haphazardly, each featuring a different main protagonist, and this latest novel is not at all the one I thought would tie things up (though it does, in its way). So I've done it both ways. It looks like there will be another related series coming eventually, based on what I had originally planned for the sixth book. I mighty even plan it out...
  16. When I first started seriously writing, way back in 2013, I originally just wrote one book. Then a trilogy. Then I was planning a nine book series. Then, between 2015-2016, I started all over again, combining a huge section of my ideas into one book. Then, in a year, I effectively wrote four more books [with help from NaNoWriNo], and I'm planning two more for next year, coming to a grand total of seven books. It was an adventure, that's for certain.
    Lisselle likes this.
  17. Lisselle

    Lisselle Minstrel

    Hi, I have finished my Trilogy, and I don't really plan. At the moment I am doing a final re-write of all three, making sure I have enough threads, details and saturation of my World to carry through to books 4,5,6,7,8 and 9, without the unrealistic sudden addition of facts or information needing to be added later on, which would jar the reading process. (I hate that!)

    Book 1 was an idea I had when I was seventeen, and in 2009 I began writing. It evolved very organically, and from there, books 2 and 3 developed. I dreamed the end of book 3 in April 2017, because I was absolutely stuck on how to consolidate the climax with the conclusion.

    I have mapped out the next six books, yet these are vague guide-lines. I carry a notebook with me everywhere, and jot down ideas. I daydream about my stories a lot, and see scenes and images that I know have to be included, and these become hinges upon which plots can develop.

    My characters create their own stories a lot of the time, and while I have a general idea of who will love, who will succeed or fail, and who will die, they often surprise me with the directions they take.

    I write every day, so my immersion into my World is intensive. In many ways I live there more than in my real life, and my thoughts are mired in my story, so the development of story-lines is an ongoing and enjoyable process. Oh, and every book seems to be easier to write, which is strange. Maybe it is because I now know all the Characters, they have all grown, as have I, and their World is now familiar to me.
    Thoras, TheCrystallineEntity and pmmg like this.
  18. ^What you've described here is very similar to how I write. :cool:
    Lisselle likes this.
  19. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    I plan out an overall arc and jot notes...basic events and consequences for different books, but I don't do detailed outlines for all the planned books.

    My SF series (Crax War Chronicles), I know the ending now. Actually have written parts of the final scene, but that will be in the 5th book. I have only completed two thus far. In my fantasy series (First Civilization's Legacy), there isn't as solid of an overall story arc planned, but I do know the main plot for two books yet to come, and how events in the first three books instigated or point to what happens in subsequent novels. With these series I have striven to write the books so that they stand alone well enough that a reader could pick up any one and begin reading. With a series, as it gets longer, I think that is proving more difficult.

    With the current WIP, an new series (LitRPG) I do not have the ending of the series figured out, although I know the characters' goal. Whether they reach it and how? We'll have to see.
    Sheilawisz likes this.
  20. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    I haven't come to the point where writing a series is reasonable for me to attempt but as I'm attepting to finish longer pieces than minor short stories I am plotting it out fairly well.

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