Keep in mind, I am not telling anyone how to write a series because let’s face it, no two authors write in quite the same way. Many people plot every aspect. They know exactly what is going to happen and when. There is nothing wrong with this and in fact probably makes the process faster.
Oh if only my brain worked that way. But it doesn’t. No my mind is a lover of barely controlled chaos. Because of this, I am easily distracted. It goes something like this: I really need to sit down and write somethi–oh look! Something shiny! I get to the store and forget what I was there for; unless I bring a list and actually remember to take it into the store with me. I forget what I did with my keys, where I put my purse, where I left my shoes, and a myriad of other things that drive my poor husband crazy. Who by the way, usually knows where I’ve left everything.
So how does one with a mind like mine write a multi-book epic fantasy? Not like most people I expect.
I am mostly a pantzer, but not completely. I don’t run blindly into a story with no idea of where it is going. I know the beginning and the end. I know several key scenes that need to happen both for the series as a whole and each book. Are they things I have written down? No. If I start writing down things that need to happen, my writing brain stops working. I don’t know why and it really makes no sense, but there you have it.
I do have extensive notes, just not story notes. I have character lists so I can remember who all of them are (I have a large cast both in POV characters and in minor leads), how I spelled their name, where they are from and what they look like. I have an item list as well so I remember how I spelled certain things and a word list so I can remember what is supposed to be capped and what isn’t. When you have a lot of made up things, that last is extremely important.
But when it comes to story notes, those all stay in my head. How they don’t get lost in the mess in there, I will never know.
Beyond the beginnings, endings and a sprinkle of in-betweens though is where the pantzer part comes in. I have no idea how my characters plan to get from point A to point B and beyond. Many times they throw things in that I was unaware of and I have to add it to my story notes in my head so I don’t forget. Yes, I am perfectly capable of forgetting why I went into the bathroom, but I never forget a story element.
Is this the proper way to write a series? Probably not, in fact you probably think I’m crazy at this point. But one thing I’ve learned, there is no right or wrong when it comes to writing. I think in any book, whether it is a series or a stand-alone, knowing where it’s going is the most important. I would be lost if I didn’t know how it was going to end, or at least a really firm idea of it. Everything you write needs to be working toward an end goal or your book will wander all over the place. Even as I say this though, I know there is some writer out there shaking their head and thinking, “I never know the ending until it happens.” And if that works for them and their writing, then they should go for it.
As for me, I’ll continue doing what it is I do in my semi-organized chaotic world of writing–that I wouldn’t change for anything–and also hope that I helped inspire at least one person.