Less Fairy, More Tale

It’s been far too long, dear reader, since I’ve written. Not that I’m not writing–I’ve been working on editing the third book in my four-book series. But I have been woefully negligent with my social media. It’s an offshoot of my mixed feelings about marketing.

Therefore, I’m going to write one of my rare writing posts. I don’t write them often because I hardly feel like an expert. However, I have learned a few things while working as an indie author.

How to keep series notes

Note taking is a skill that most people don’t master. Writers are notorious for jotting down a thought or an idea on a napkin, the corner of a menu, or on the myriad little notebooks that are half full with scribblings we can’t identify under penalty of death (which is what it feels like when you lose an idea). Think of all the amazing stories that go unwritten because the perfect sentence is now in the trash with a wad of gum stuck to it!

While I don’t pretend to know everything about note-taking—I’ve been guilty of the lost gum-wad note—and I don’t assume this will work for everyone, here’s my guide to notes.

my secret plan to rule the world book

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  1. A series is a marathon, not a sprint

The same idea can be applied to a writing career, but that’s another post. What I mean by a marathon, is no one runs a marathon without a plan. I may write as a pantser, but I take notes like a planner (which is to say, after the fact). Each of my books has a dedicated notebook (yes, millennials use pen and paper) where I write the names of each of my characters in the inside cover. Lots of times I forget the name of a tertiary character or that a main character has a last name.

two brown pencils

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  1. You have a life and so do all your characters

I have a great memory and I still forget at least ten things a day because I have a life outside of writing. It’s hard enough keeping all my stuff in order (and my daughter’s, and my dog’s) without having to memorize ten to twenty character’s lives! I have a separate notebook of just arcs, so I know where each of my characters have progressed by the end of each book, that way I don’t have to go back and remember if Periquito is still friends with Perensejo. I also include what they look like and a timeline.

black ball point pen on white notebook

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  1. Confused? You won’t be after this episode of Soap

Extra points for anyone who gets the reference! Essentially, it means I write a summary of how everyone ended their story in each book. This is separate than the arc journal because it connects how all the characters have related to one another. Character X might not have cliffhanger at the end of the book, but Character Y does and it will effect Character X.

book on a white wooden table

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  1. Places are people, too

In my series, there are places that the characters visit frequently and they need to be described in each book, hopefully without repeating the exact words each time. I have a section of my arc notebook dedicated to buildings. I also include things like rules, special words, sayings in Spanish, and because I write about fantasy, any magical objects or spells.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think I’ve shared enough of my general insanity to be helpful instead of daunting.


3 thoughts on “Less Fairy, More Tale

  1. What a great idea to have a journal about your character’s story arc! I have one for their descriptions and background, but I hadn’t thought about having notes on where the characters are at the end of one book to help with the writing of the next. I do, however, outline on paper or dry erase board and then take pictures to store in my computer for later. As a visual person, this helps immensely!

    • Pictures are great! Another “trick” I use is my smart pen, so when I take notes it automatically uploads to my computer. Writing things out by hand is the only way I can brainstorm with immediately wanting to self-edit.

      • A smart pen! that’s fantastic. I never thought of that but I’m similar in wanting to write things originally by hand. I’m seriously going to have to look into that idea!

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