Thursday, January 26, 2012

World Organization

No, I'm not trying to organize the entire Earth. I'm just trying to organize the world building going on in a futuristic series I'm writing.

This is a BIG series. The final 3 books in the series are out (Human Touch, Living Proof and Leap of Faith). Those 3 books take place 400 years after the start of the series -- which is what I'm writing now. In those 3 future books, they allude to things that happened in the past -- the past I'm writing now.

Confused? Nope, I'm not. I'm Organized. Or I'm trying to be organized. I am anticipating at least 7 books to be written for this multi-generational saga. That means I need to keep track of a lot of details. I tried computer organization -- calendar programs, address books, databases, but none of it was quite right and there was the problem of synchronization. I tend to write on many different computers in the course of one day, carrying my current files with me on a memory stick. It got too hard to remember what to update, what was updated, etc.

So I reverted to paper tracking and it's working out very nicely. I went to the local thrift store and found a bunch of old DayRunner organizers. Remember those? They were all The Thing a while ago. You could buy all kinds of nifty stuff to put in the organizers -- the kind of stuff I need to organize a world.

I have calendars (blank ones for the future that I can write in and set up my own dates), an address book (in which I keep track of characters, their names, their traits, their appearance), To Do lists, photo sleeves ... I have one MASTER planner for things like vocabulary, places, timelines, 'facts'. Then I'm keeping another planner for the current book and its details. I have a place to jot down ideas, a place

Some of this I do keep on my computer. My detailed character sketches for the main characters are on my memory stick, for example. I printed out a copy to put in the planner but whenever I update it with a new fact or event that affects that character, I jot a note on paper and then eventually I transfer it to the computer and I print a new version.

I've been doing this for a year now (this is a BIG series and it's going to be written over the course of several years, in between other projects) and I am calling it a success. I put this series aside for about 5 months and just came back to it. My notes made perfect sense to me and I can pick up right where I left off. My jotted notes make sense and I can see where they'll fit.

I think I may finally have this organizing thing figured out (at least for this world). Now if I could just get the socks all to match...


Alison H. said...

JL, I'm so impressed! I've never attempted anything on the scale of your series, but I can see that you'd have to be super organized to keep track of all the details.

Barbara Edwards said...

Useful information for another series writer. Thanks

Jannine Gallant said...

Wow, very impressive, JL. I have yet to plan a series. That isn't to say I haven't used characters from previous books in their own stories. I have. I just didn't know I was going to, so there was no planning involved. In the sequel I'm now writing to Victim of Desire, I have to read my own book again and take notes! I love your organizational ideas. A trail of paper is right up my alley!

Jerri Hines said...

Sounds awesome, J L. What a series! Helpful information.

Laura Breck said...

I love that you have writing plans stretching way into the future.