I said I was going to pick the How I Write back up, didn’t I? Well now is the moment you have been waiting for (or so I’ll keep thinking you have.)
In a previous article of the How I Write series, I talked about the Birth of Lily. Moreover, my participation in this month’s AW Blog Chain had me post two scenes freshly translated out of The One Who Sees (Lily’s novel). I thus think you are ready to read about how I’m working through the Old Souls series.
The first think you ought to know about the Old Souls series is that each book is told in first person by a new main character. The inter-relationship between the books is complex to manage since I’m attempting to make each book a worthy standalone yet deepen it incredibly if the rest of the series is read.
I more or less tested that type of structure with one of my NaStyRoMo stories, The Virgin.
From the get-go, it was clear to me that the series had to use that structure. It came to me like that and I won’t change it even if it means it’ll never sell until I’ve made a name for myself. I’ve doubted about it. I’ve questioned myself. I went through all six of de Bono’s Hats (which I might talk about later in the How I Write series).
I’ve challenged the concept and now here I stand, stubbornly bent on making this happen. And the only way it will happen is by making it flawless.
Herein enters the prima donna of our show; the outline of the series.
It all started with a beginning and an end. I wanted to start with the almost normal Lily and slowly progress toward the supernatural. I wanted to end with a hundred percent pure supernatural creature. I wanted to start with the good girl and end with the bad guy. Yes. Last book of the series stars the bad guy in the lead role. Label me crazy and let’s move forward.
Within the first minutes working on The One Who Sees, I had the name of the series, the core themes and the title of the first book. I listed them on page one of a notebook then blocked space for various sections. After the series definition went a couple of pages for “random ideas” to be classified later. A book’s brainstorm takes 4 pages. A book’s rough outline takes another 4. I labelled the pages for the first book at the beginning of the notebook and the pages for the last book at the end. Any thing else would eventually fill up the space in-between.
Once the structure of my notebook was established, I started darkening the pages with my black pen and tiny writing.
Book One’s brainstorm was first, naturally. I already had the ideas I discussed in the aforementioned “Birth of Lily” article. From there, everything was about what I wanted and what I needed.
I needed Lily and Chris. Plain unavoidable.
I realised I wanted The One Who Sees to work with an old short story of mine which I decided would become book two. I skipped ahead, wrote a few ideas in The One Who Lives book’s brainstorm which in turn sparked a few ideas for book one.
I wanted some kind of undesirable sidekick. I needed it to tie-in with the “Old Souls” concept. Cianán was born (pronounced KEE-nahn): the ghost of a Celtic warrior. Kind of funny how he is used to rely on his muscles so much and now can’t. He deserves his book. There I had number three which was fed and fed book one and two.
I kept going until I had nothing left to scribble. By then, I had ideas for 5 inter-related stories.
Book One’s rough outline came next. I basically put together the ideas of the brainstorm and roughly grouped them in chapter. I haven’t organized the other books yet and won’t do it before The One Who Sees is done. This way, as I discover new opportunities to enhance the plot as I write book one, I can translate them to the other books by adding a couple of lines to their respective brainstorms. Writing The One Who Sees actually sparked a sixth book and rearranged the order of the whole series.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Since Lily’s foresight forces a certain passage of time, my next step was to build the timeline…
… which I will talk about next time.