Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pesky Details

So the adventurous knitter has completed their crazy, mixed up sock. Their friends and family rave about it. Some folks even want to buy it...or one similar. The thing is...most people need TWO socks. And most of them want a matching pair. The secret to producing that second sock is in the details.

The adventurous knitter must also be a meticulous knitter--with the details. A record of colors, patterns, and row numbers is necessary to reproduce a second sock. Any reasonably competent knitter can create a a single make-it-up-as-you-go one-off sock. Their only limit is how creative they want to be. The rub is producing the second sock. That requires attention to all the tiny details created in the first sock. Without those matching details, the outside world observes the unmatched socks and usually isn't the least hesitant in pointing out the errors.

Writers have the same problem when they pen sequels or series--especially if the stories take place in worlds the writer has created. In that first book, the one all the readers rave about, the writer has set up their unique world. They've made decisions about culture, government, monetary exchange units, housing, technology...a myriad of tiny, specific details that contribute to their story. They might even toss in some 'made-up' vocabulary. They've peopled their story with interesting characters and family relationships. Their readers take the story to heart and demand more, more, more!


How to recreate their unique world for a second...or third...or fourth story? How do writers corral all the pesky details so they match?

Most writers have some version of a series bible. Let's face it--sticky notes won't cut it after the fifty or so. Every writer has their own version. Some keep their notes in a spiral notebook. Others have three ring binders or electronic files. I know of a couple who keep Excel spreadsheets. Personally, I'm slowly transferring my notes to One Note.

The method doesn't matter. Really. There is no 'right' way. EXCEPT!!! Yes, there's always an exception. And? You can't consult a non-existent bible.

Oh, I can hear you objecting already! "I don't write series!"

My reply? How do you know? I have quite a few standalone books I never planned to expand into series, but the unvarnished truth is plans change. What I considered a standalone two years ago might be getting lonely this year and demand a companion. If that happens, then I'm prepared. I always read the previous books in a series before I start, but having the details written down makes all the difference, whether I create this year--or five years from now. 

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