Writing in Series

As I’m finishing up Book 3 in my series, I’m noting how increasingly hard it is to keep track of things. Things it never occurred to me that I would forget. . . yup, I forgot.

Here are some things I’ve used to keep this very complicated series manageable. All documents are works in progress.

1) Style sheet. Impossible to create after the fact, but as I started out, I wrote down, in categories, things like: characters (ages), technology terms, politics, place names, geography, flora, fauna, clothes, food, terms of the culture (many of these), sayings, oaths, homilies, literature titles. The style sheet not only reminds me what things are called but specifies case and spelling.

2) Series notes. 3-ring binder with notes on many of the things mentioned in the style sheet; as well: notes on characters, their physical aspects, diction, and attitudes; history, overall science concepts and notes; characteristics of sentient species; calendar and counting system, and particular to The Entire and The Rose, time passage chart. Tucked into sleeves: notes from scientists–or way smart people–who I leaned on for an hour’s phone conversation.

3. Synopsis. This is the document on the basis of which I sold the series. Increasingly irrelevant. Being a tad compulsive, I’ve made stabs at margins notes trying to describe how things went differently. But sometimes, when I had the question, “Where the hell am I?” the synopsis actually helped.

4. Maps. I’ve drawn maps of the universe and, when you read book three, you’ll know why a map was needed! Also, a map of the Ascendancy; a map of the Arm of Heaven Primacy.

5. Name resource list. I’ve researched Chinese names and gotten quite picky about which ones to use and how to modify them. I also keep a list of other sentient species names, if I wake up in the middle of the night with the perfect name for, say, a Hirrin preconsul.

6. Other things: Excerpt list by literature category (I have extracts from the local literature heading up every chapter.) Scene list. (The most important document I keep, this is a brief summary of each scene as I write it.)

Anybody find other things helpful?

4 Responses

  1. gooddamon says:

    For one of the novels I’m working on, I did a character “interview” after fleshing out the basics of the character. Basically, I asked her a bunch of questions about herself. Very useful, both for maintaining the character’s tone and giving her a robust back-story.

  2. criada says:

    I also like to keep a file for each character’s story arc– where they’re going both plot-wise and character-wise.

    I use Mori (and my PC-using friends use Wikidpad) for keeping track of my enormous world. It’s basically your own personal wiki, and makes it easy to jot down a bit of inspiration in an organized manner.

  3. Kay says:

    Character interviews

    I’ve heard of people that do that. I just can’t get my head around the scenario where a made up person is answering the author’s questions. I can’t believe my imagination doesn’t stretch that far!

  4. Kay says:


    That’s program that people are starting to rave about. Must investigate. Thanks!

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