There are way too many work tabs open in my head right now. I’m working on ghostwriting a paranormal romance, promoting Bound by Blood from the MARKED series, and wrapping up the first draft of my YA project. Needless to say, that is a whole hell of a lot of information to be carrying around with me at all times.
While working on my Urban Fantasy series, MARKED, I noticed that a lot of small details were getting lost in the mix. Names of fellow Faoladh (my version of werewolves) were forgotten as I went from one draft to the next. It was also hard to keep track of who I killed in book 2 and who owned what. The best way to keep track of this when writing in the long format, a heavy book or a series, is to opt for a Series Bible.
This is a notebook, binder, or file that holds every bit of information about the world that you are creating. It has the names of your entire cast, including a few character bios when necessary. It should have a map of your world, even a contemporary world, so that you know which direction characters are going. It should have a list of important places in the books, businesses, houses, parks, etc.
Having this information handy while you write ensures that you’re only a quick flip away from keeping continuity in your own books. Devote entire sections with enough paper, if going physical, to expand if you have to. Your story will grow.
- Characters: Don’t just write down the main cast. Include each and every name that flutters across the page. In the world of MARKED, there is an entire Clan of werewolves. All of them are men and almost none of them cross the page in book one. In book two, the view is expanded quite a bit and more and more characters are entering the game. In order to keep them straight, I keep a list of names, physical descriptions, age, relation to others, career, and importance to the story. Now, when you introduce a minor character now, you won’t forget them when they become larger (Or, you feel like killing a few).
- Setting: In the world of MARKED, I have created a large number of small businesses inside of my fictional town, Wolf’s Head. Sure, Balefire will never leave me, but sometimes I forget about the other places I’ve created. By having a map (even a crappy one) I know where all these things are in conjunction to one another. I know that the Copper Fox Coffee House is by the river that feeds from the lake while Balefire is on the square.
- Plot Points and Twists: If you have any plot points or twists that came to you in the shower or before bed, WRITE THEM DOWN. Do not trust them to stay with you in any way. They feel a lot like dreams in that they are gone in a blink. I’ve taken to using the notes feature in my phone because it is always on hand. This is especially crucial when working on a longer format. Something you have planned for book four could be forgotten halfway through book three.
- Sub Plots: Every character wants something. It is what makes them feel alive on the page. They want tenderness. They want power. Whatever floats their boat. Just keep track of that so it doesn’t change from book one to four without good reason. In my YA I am hosting a broad cast of characters with their own depth and desires. It is really hard to keep that feeling real while I’m focusing on MARKED or Ghostwriting. By jotting all of these things down so I can read it later, there is no way that I can lose them.
- Magic System: While the reader doesn’t need to know the ins and outs of your magic system, you do. Catalogue what your system can and cannot do so that later, when you’re writing that pivotal fight scene, the MC doesn’t suddenly host a power that doesn’t make sense.
Having these things handy when writing even a trilogy will make your life infinitely easier. Use your phone. Use the file system in Scrivener. Use that cute notebook you couldn’t resist (because you’re a writer and notebooks are like catnip to us).