Hopefully you’ve read Part 1 of this post, so you’ve got the feeling in your mind of how writing one fiction book can be draining.
Now – what if you had to write a fiction series?
Sure, you might think. I just keep progressing the story line from one book to the next.
But wait – what about the large plot points you hinted at in book 1? What about the tiny plot points you hinted at? How are you going to set up the plot points for book 3? For book 4? And plots don’t have to be linear – ooohhhhhh no.
I’ve started to compare it myself to doing a really complex piece of hair braiding. Imagine each book is its own unique French braid. But while you are working on the first braid, you also need to simultaneously start work on the second, and a little on third as well.
Then, once you finish the first, you keep working on the second, while reaching back to the first to remember how you did it and link up parts of that braid with the second. And now you need to keep braiding the second while you also link up parts of the third braid… and start on the fourth. And what if you had braids within braids?
Starting to feel like you may not have enough hands?
That’s the equivalent feeling of mentally juggling the plot lines of a fiction series.
In the end, it becomes one very complex (and knotty) braid. But one, in theory, which you should be able to easily untangle right at the end of it all.
After all, the last thing you want is for readers to get to the end of your book and look back and say, ‘Not sure how that character went from point A to point B in that story…’
So, on top of the general draining feeling you can get from fiction writing, the complexity of plot juggling can also add to the strain. Most writers have their own way for managing this, and it can range from frequent writing breaks to tracking plots through complex spreadsheets.
For me, I mentally track everything, but use ‘next up’ dot points on post-it-notes to guide the writing of the next few chapters I’m staring down. In addition, I have an outline sheet that develops as a I go along. But the post-it-notes are my favourite method – there’s nothing like peeling a post-it-note off my desktop once I’ve finished working in the plot point, scrunching it up and making it swish into my little garbage can under my desk (if I miss the shot it is slightly less fun).
But otherwise, I generally know in my mind how I want my books to go to from point A to B and just track everything when it becomes closer to that writing part and more granular.
(Side note – once I used to plan so much that I could never actually get a book started, much less finished! Less planning and more writing are the tools that works for me.)
So, potential writers be warned – fiction writing, while it may appear easy, is not. It is just the hallmark of a good fiction writer that makes it seem so.
But while it is not easy, it is rewarding. Honestly, there is nothing like having your book published and seeing the workings of your mind wound through page after page and knowing that others are entertained by it.
So. The big question. Is it worth it?