Everyone has different ways of going around and coming up with ideas for stories and going about writing them, I have said it many times and will probably say it many more. I am an Outliner, I need to know where the story is going before I can start it. Because of this it can take a long while to get a story going, sometimes I wish I could just sit down and write like Stephen King, but I have tried that many times and nothing works. The only thing that I did that was my short story Chronicles of Skylar Grant that I have on here and I haven’t even finished it. The reason for that was because I saw this as a bigger series and wanted to know where it would got to shape it the first part to the end. Maybe someday I will be able to do it better but I doubt it.
Every story starts with an idea, J.K. Rowling had a dream of a boy who found out he was a wizard and we got Harry Potter. George R.R. Martian saw idea of a boy seeing a man’s beheading and finding direwolves in the snow, an we got a Song of Fire and Ice Series (Also known as A Game of Thrones). You get my point, my idea the idea I had was a boy wakes up one morning and finds a mark on the back of his neck. The Story grew into Marks of Eilira and is still growing because not all the books have been written. I never have trouble with, I get ideas for new stories all the time and I usually give into the temptation to explore them more then I should. An idea can come from anywhere or anyone and could come from something that you have listen to hundreds of times. This happened when I was at a hockey game with my dad walking around during one of the breaks in the game, the song: Down with the Sickness by Disturbed, was playing that I use to listen to all the time years ago. That is when I heard this verse:
When suddenly it changes
Violently it changes
Bang! An idea hit me. At that time for about a year or two I was working on a TV series, it is not anymore, and I only mapped parts of the story but I was having problems with the story and had all these thoughts of what I wanted to happen but could not come up with a single idea to link them together until then. I race back to my seat pulled out my little butt notebook I have on me at all times and mapped out six seasons of beginning, middle, and end of seasons.
I have ideas coming to me all the time, and I love that but not all of them are gems that make me want to jump into and explore them. At first I would write them all down and then dump them into my idea document I had in word. Some were vast in scale while others were just premises for a series, I would even put if they were ideas for movies, TV series, or novels, heck even for video games or trading card games. Ironic thing to this day I have yet to use one of those ideas in that document. I did put some old ideas for series on this list to cut down on needless documents and plan to use them. I still have the document I split it into two the original just incase one of those ideas might work for something else, or I actually decided to write one of those series. The second one I removed all the ideas I most likely wouldn’t write or used.
When I have an idea that I like it will float around in my head, I don’t have to write it down because if I like it I’ll remember it. I have a lot of ideas in my head best way to describe it is a room filled with bubbles floating around. Over times several bubbles bum into each other and attach themselves together, ideas do that in my head all the time. Just like the bubbles sometimes ideas that attach themselves to one idea eventually falls off because it no longer works. This could take hours, days, weeks, months, and yes years. My Aceon Ring’s idea has been floating around in my head since 2001 and by idea I mean the title that’s it. Only now have ideas started to form around that idea. When enough ideas have attached themselves to each other and I see a story starting to form I come up with a name for it or if I know the title I refer to it as that. Once I give a batch of ideas a name or title I can never mix it up with any other story or series in my head. My brain works like a computer in someways.
When the ideas have become big enough for me to get my head around them I give the idea a folder in my projects folder. This is where I keep track of all the ideas and characters in great detail. Like I said my brain works like a computer and it does, but after a point the ideas get bigger and I need help expanding them. While this is what I use to do and still do it just instead of getting a folder, I make a Scrivener file. Scrivener is a program that allows you to write your novel, or screenplay on it and formats it for the way it is supposed to be formatted. I have been looking for years for a program like this, but I wanted something that not only formatted my novels but I could keep everything under one file. At first I did not think I would be able to do this, but I was wrong and I am slowly transferring all my packet documents into Scrivener.
When I start the Project Bible as some would call it, this is where I go into great detail on the story world that the story is going to take place in. See World Building for more details on this. Depending how big the story is, determines how much of the world I create. Examples: Marks of Eilira is a global story and I need to know practically everything about the world. Gathering is focused on a tournament and while I like to know more about it, I only need to know certain things about that world not everything. Note: I work on the world until I know that while I might not dive into every area there the reader will have no doubts in their minds that the other areas I did not develop are there and exist. The best part about that is also while I might not dive into certain area when creating the world because I don’t think I need to, while I write the books I will develop them on accident. The World Building only goes as far as I am in the story in outlining, you can only develop the world so far before you need to start writing up how things are going to work and events are going to play out in the series.
While the world is being built I will start to get to know my characters, usually by the time I start working on the world I have in my head the main character and the basic idea of his personality. I have no real method or order I work on these it depends on what I know I need to write up and if I have enough ideas on the characters to start working on their profiles. For more in-depth on characters see Characters Page. Like the world building it depends on how far I am to outlining the series before I know what characters I need to make profiles for. A lot of times I only write up the character profiles for those who will be appearing in the book I am going to write, even if they appear in the book and it is not that big of a part, but will later on I will only write up the profile when they become a bigger part. However I learn about them through those few scenes they have in that book.
When I do work on my Characters their names are important to me because if I do not like them I will not care about them to work on them. I had this problem with Echoes, I renamed the characters three or four times. Every time I would come back to work on the series I would like their names because I wouldn’t remember it. Their names now are Hunter and Holly and I like them and they won’t change. In the Gathering the main character’s name was Arnold Cadman but had a nickname of Blake, mostly because I wanted his name to men ruler and Cadman means Warrior. So I wanted his name to literally mean Warrior Ruler. However, but I don’t like the name Arnold and reminds me of the kid in the magic school bus books too dorky and his is supposed to be a cool guy. I like the name Blake so I just used his nickname for his real one.
What is just as important as the main character(s) name(s) is your villains name. In Marks of Eilira I had the main villain’s name Nanagog because at the time I was watching Power Rangers Dino Thunder. I know it’s a kids show, but hey I grew up with that show and second it was on when I first work up at noon and gave me something to watch while I ate my breakfast. The Villain in that show was Mesogog and I liked the sound of it, it would be a throwback to my Power Rangers days. I scratched it after a while thinking Nanagog was too close to Mesogog and also did not think it sounded threatening to independent readers. I switched it to Hellion and I love it now and that character as well.
Even Minor Characters get a profile, they are not that in-depth, but if they are going to appear in small roles through out my series or come in contact with my main character for long periods of time either before or during the series I need to know them and how their pasts or actions in the past have or will affect my characters.