I’m not a panster – someone who makes up a story as they type it. But I’m also not a plotter – someone who plans the story, outlining each chapter before sitting down to write. I’m somewhere in between.
I write a rough outline of the story, like an incredibly rough draft that has major plot points including the ending with not much else, before sitting down to write the full story. But the more I write, the more critical planning is becoming.
Now, if I was writing stand alone novels, this post might be irrelevant. But my brain struggles to keep the stories confined to just one book cover.
In the novel realm, the shortest I’ve been able to come up with is a duology. My current work in progress is a trilogy. The idea nibbling at my mind demanding attention after this project is at least a trilogy and there’s another idea on the backburner which will span two generations. Who knows how many books that will end up being. (Yes, my head is very full at any given moment.)
To make sure I have consistency though out the length of the series, planning all those books out before writing them is crucial. I don’t want to find a massive plot point in book three that should have been set up in book one, especially if book one has already been published.
The doubting, negative thinker in me points out that I should find out whether the series is sellable before spending the time and energy in making a rough draft of the additional books in the series.
That thinking is short sighted.
Yes, if I have to shelve the series because no one wants to buy it, then it is energy I could have spent elsewhere. But if book one does sell, I want to have the rest lined up mentally, at the very least, to avoid issues later in the series.
And I do believe in setting up for success.
So, I need to plan. Lay out story lines and character arcs that will span over the entire series, not just the book I’m working on now.
At the end of the day, whether it gets published or not, I want to do right by my stories. If I’m going to spend the time to create a polished draft of one book, I’m going to spend the additional time to plot and plan the rest of the books in the series.
I know I may not cover every eventuality – sometimes in writing, the stories take on a life of their own and wander off in a direction my rough draft didn’t prepare me for. But a firm foundation in planning will help prepare me for everything else that comes.