Keep the Confusion to a Minimum!

Do you ever get a feeling of Déjà vu when you’re talking to somebody?

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You know you’ve said those exact words, but somehow it doesn’t seem like you said it to the person you’re currently speaking to. Or you call somebody you know by another name and not even realize it.

In real life this can embarrass you, but as a writer it can also be very confusing to your reader. This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve caught my mistake before it went any further than the pages of my story. Keeping your character’s activities and personalities consistent is essential for a well-crafted manuscript.

Now image you must keep track of more than one project.

I find when I write multiple series at one time my imagination flows, but my work demands I stay focused. That conversation I thought I had? I did; but with other characters. And the character I so easily called by the wrong name is a character from a different series. These are common mistakes I’ve made, and I know there are more. They can quickly get out of hand when I’m writing multiple series. However, for me, the benefits of writing more than one serious far outweighs these little mistakes that can be caught and fixed.

When I write in multiples, it keeps my word count consistent. If I find I’m stumped on a scene or I can’t quite get to the research I need to finish, I can easily push one to the side and work on another. I use scrivener and this helps me tremendously because you can write by scenes and chapters. Scrivener allows me to move from one project to another as the ideas come, filling in where I need to.

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Another lesson I’ve learned to help me jump from project to project is having a ‘Series Bible’ for each of your series. This is essential, especially as you get deeper into each series you write. Most writers are thinking of scenarios constantly, and if one doesn’t fit in this book, it might fit in another. So why not write out your thoughts and insert them while they are fresh on your mind? Rather than waiting until you finish this book and increasing the chances of losing that thought or passage forever. In a society geared on multitasking, this is an excellent practice to begin. But only start a Series Bible if this method feels comfortable. If you’re the type of writer that needs to write the entire story out at one time tweaking as you go, then this method might not be good for you.

In your series bible, (using a notebook, program on the computer, or storyboard) you to keep track of your characters; their likes and dislikes, physical appearance, their mental capacities and anything else you consider important. Also keep track of the settings; where each scene is taking place, characters new to the series as they appear, personal interactions between characters. The list goes on and should be specific to your books. For instance, I write a cozy murder mysteries and I like to keep track of each method of kill; how does my main character solve the puzzle uniquely so none of my books have the same ending.

Use your Series Bible to write ideas as they come to you, outlining each new book in the series ahead of time. You may find the ideas you come up with are better suited for another series. Either way it’s important to get the ideas down in some form. After you’ve gotten the words written, then it’s easy enough to put your thoughts into a different Series Bible.

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Some people do better with a huge storyboard, outlining the same information where it’s visible to them always. There are also many programs for computers to carry out these goals. Even an Excel spread sheet will help your writing process. Whichever method you use, be sure to keep your Series Bible updated as you go along and refer to back to the information. There’s nothing worse than calling your main character a blue-eyed beauty, only to find out in an earlier book you gave her green eyes.

By having this information at your fingertips you’ll find it easy to check your facts. No matter what method you use, if you’re comfortable about putting your important information in one easy to use location, then it will be worth the time you spent.

Until next time, keep writing, Sam…er…Susan…

 

 

 

 

AnOther Writer?

I think I have a budding writer in the family.

She’s not your typical writer. No, her work habits are lazy and hap-hazard. She tends to write only when inspired by seeing someone else working, and she  often falls asleep in the middle of a sentence.

You see my co-writer is a pretty little thing, with four legs and a lot of attitude.20160902_080826

Meet Miss Marple. She’s the quiet one of my three cats.and if I’m at my desk, so is she. To tell the truth, she should have been named Shadow, because she is like my shadow, always with me.

Miss Marple is patient and seems to know my writing moods. When things are flowing smoothly, she sits in her basket (how she still fits in it I haven’t a clue) and grabs a nap. When I need to sit and think about the story, she will sit on my lap, hands or keyboard and offer her support.

Of course things don’t always go this smoothly, after all, she’s a cat with a mind of her own. And one of three in the house. I swear, when she thinks I’ve ignored her long enough, she signals the other two for reinforcements!

The second cat is Fletch.  She was named Mrs. Fletcher, but my son insisted Fletch was more appropriate-he was right. If there is trouble to be found, Fletch is in the middle of it. And she is not so tolerant of being ignored while I write.

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When the reinforcements are called in, my desk becomes their play ground. Drawers are opened for stealing paperclips and rubber bands. The pen in my hand is  mortal enemy that must be attacked and defeated. Urgent secret codes are typed into my manuscript as they pounce on the key board. And the back of my chair is commandeered and transformed into a launch pad.

Then, just as I’m ready to give up and pack it in, there is peace. As if sent by a secret code, they both settle down.

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Did I mention my third cat, Speckles? She is the matriarch of the three, over 18 years old. She’s too old to jump up on my desk, now. Instead she sits in the comfortable chair next to my desk, or on a rug in a patch of sunlight and watches the antics of the other two. In her time, she was the troublemaker. I think I can see her smile as Fletch steals my pen.

I wonder…is she sending them a secret code?

Finally, all three are taking their afternoon nap and I can get back to my work in progress. At least until they wake up and it starts all over.

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