Writerly Organization...another world...

Oh, the story I wrote as in my newbie ignorance, I wrote up a storm, a disaster, a novel! It  was a wondrous thing, full of detail and richness, spice and sarcasm, survival, accomplishment, and love.

And then...

Readers liked it.

I got a call from one who had tracked me down to tell me it changed her life.

Oh, good Lord!

Oh, and when was I going to write another one? A Zone book?

Uh...well...uwh...I wasn't sure I could write a book at all when I began. I was so new, I called a New York Publisher to ask how long an average novel was. If you've ever seen an Abbott and Costello film, I can assure you this ranked right up there with 'who's on first'. I finally ended the call in frustration with no real answer or so I thought. I'm sure the other party had a real laugh-fest on the idiocy of telephoners. Need I say, I hope we never meet? Remaining anonymous seems about right.

What does this have to do with Organization you probably wonder? Well here it is.

If you're only going to write one book about an area, place, family, world, whatever, then fine. DON'T TAKE NOTES. However, if the first book looks like a keeper and suddenly you need another book with ANY details that are repeated, and if you have written a four hundred fifty page adventure, futuristic, romance first book, then you are scr#%ed.

Worse, you do remember some details and they are idiotic. For example, as I was merrily writing a long and needed a name for an animal someone might eat, I called some bunnyhops or parachickens.  Really? I ask myself now, couldn't you (me) have come up with something a little better than that? Now I'm stuck with such for the rest of the entire set of storylines. You try remembering what area, some fool animal or plant is in. You try remembering how many children a couple has and if you've named them all in the previous novel.
Photo Album with file separators. TOTALLY INADEQUATE!

Turns out, in the second novel, I managed to get the first son born before his parents met.

Yup. That's a detail that needed nailed down somewhere. Think you'd not make that error? That little mistake came from mentioning, oh, so, casually in the character's own thoughts that he was over thirty.

So, whether your life is organized, your office is organized, or your head is organized, doesn't really matter. What matters is what you can prove. Find your method and keep it current. Details in advance of writing can be fun, but as I found out, details change and morph into other unplanned details. Keep diligent in your records for these things are like roaches. They hide everywhere and keep breeding. Remember timelines. Somethings (like parents meeting before baby delivery) are important. So timeline details are crucial.

I bring this disaster up for your amusement. I went back through the first novel and tried to identify and categorize places, people, things, geography, etc. I'm not sure what I'll do going forward. It is still a mess, because I foolishly compounded my problem by letting the characters in the second novel take a different route through the Proving Zone, I cunningly used DIFFERENT animals, geography, plants, for their story. Now, I'm in trouble exponentially.
Technology issues and instructions for using them. For example The IBLTD wand was held by a 'peace' officer. Can't remember what I called them. Order from a menu in a restaurant. First choice? Do you want a human waiter?

Note the 'note to self' in the image above where I thought maybe a indexed cardbox would work better? I'm sure seasoned writers have faced this self-induced torture before and found a way to figure it all out.
Guess what? I haven't yet.

Good luck.


Rox Delaney said...

Didn't we all write that first book "on the fly?" Oh, the things we learn...the hard way!