Today I've got a guest post by author Jo Ramsey. Thanks for contributing Jo!
I’ve asked myself that question a number of times—about my own books. That’s one of the problems you contend with when you decide to write a series.
I currently have two young adult series available, Reality Shift and The Dark Lines (both published by Jupiter Gardens Press, http://www.jupitergardens.com). I’m currently, at an editor’s request, planning a third series for Featherweight Press, and just submitted a novel to Featherweight that I suspect will become a series.
That’s a lot of series, and the only one that was intended to be one was Reality Shift. The others just kind of happened.
Writing a series takes a lot of work, and only some of that work is actually writing the stories. The rest is all about organization. I’ve been amazed by how many seemingly minor details in my books have turned out to be necessary for future books—and how often I’ve forgotten to write those seemingly minor details down because, well, they were too minor. Like the name of one of my main character’s brothers, who I thought would only appear in one book but who returned in a later one, by which time I’d completely forgotten his name.
For each of my series, I now have a binder. The binder can be kind of fun to put together, because I get to decorate the covers, which gives me an excuse to procrastinate writing. The Dark Lines and Reality Shift share a binder because there is some cross-over between the two series, including some shared characters, and the binder is divided into sections. I’m not quite organized enough to further divide things into character information, plot notes, and so on, although I know several authors who do that. I just keep notes from each book in the order of the books, so that with each subsequent book I can look back. I plan to do the same with the other two series, though I’m not quite at the point yet of having much information.
When I revise each book, I jot down anything that looks like information I might need at some point. Even if I don’t think that character will reappear, or that I’ll need to know what day of the week Jonah forgot his homework, I write it down. If I don’t, it’s a pretty safe bet I will need to know. I type up my notes, just because I think it makes the information look prettier, and put it in the binder.
I have a timeline, detailing what month and year each story takes place in and the major events of that story. In Reality Shift, a large portion of each book takes place during Jonah’s and Shanna’s school days, so I developed school schedules for each of them and have those in the binder. I have each main character’s physical and emotional description, and if I describe a secondary character I include that description as well. Sometimes I have to flip through the binder a few times to find what I’m looking for, but at least I have the information all in one place instead of having to reread each book to find it.
Some authors use index card files. Some use computer programs. I know of one author who has a wall-sized marker board and keeps track of her series on that. If you write a series, however you choose to organize, organization is vital.
Jo Ramsey’s latest young adult urban fantasy release is When Darkness Falls, book two in her series The Dark Lines. Find out more about Jo and her books on her website, www.joramsey.com.