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Author Topic: When do you think about the next story?
Member # 7664

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Especially for those of you who write longer works like novels and such, or who have serial characters: When do you think about the next story? Or the sequel? Or maybe a prequel? What do you do about it to get it out of your head to focus on what you are working on now?

The characters in my WIP novel obviously had a life before and after the events of the current story. Every now and then I think about what's going to happen to them after. Maybe some nifty interaction between characters who don't get to meet in the here and now, or what they are going to do with the information that is revealed in the resoution to the current work.

Sometimes these ideas are so good that I have to write them down if only to get them outta my head so I can keep working and I have a collection of scenes stashed in a file with a trash title for a sequel. I don't usually spend a lot of time revising this stuff. But its enough fleshed out that it will jolt my memory back into place if I ever do want to start working on it seriously.

So, what do you do?

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Member # 8368

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Something similar.

Actually, the what happens after stories usually occur to me about the time I'm wrapping up the first novel, while the characters are still in my head. I have ideas for two sequels to BLOOD WILL TELL and two for MAGE STORM.

I jot down the ideas. Occasionally, I'll revisit the file and jot down something new. Sometimes, I even have a scene or a snatch of dialog in there.

The exception is THE SHAMAN'S CURSE, THE IGHNORED PROPHECY, TROUBLED COUNSELS, and whatever the fourth book ends up being called. That was always just too much story to fit in one book.

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Member # 7852

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I learned long ago to write it all down. If its a new story I write as much as I feel comfortable with at the time. For the most part its a base summary, hopefully no more than 1 page, and the scene or two that caused it to pop in my head.

With regards to prequels and sequels, I actually had to create files and label them book 1,2, and so forth, as if you write a series they tend to grow and their histories and growth and so forth need to be recorded, and in the case of my first novel, things the MC did in the first novel that seemed trivial or pointless were in fact detrimental to the outcome in later novels and worse, things that happened in the first were set in motion in the unwritten prequels.

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Member # 8714

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Write it all down, get to it when you can. I have a dry erase board in the bathroom and three dry erase stickies (12" circles) on my closet door. I also have a notebook next to my bed. Some ideas are backburner but two are usually current. And yes, right now I am having trouble deciding which to work on.

OSC says that you're never ready to write a story right when you get the idea anyway. I tend to agree. Most ideas do better if they simmer for a bit.

As for all that dry erase stuff, I have a file on the computer for story ideas that it all gets put into eventually.

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Member # 9138

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For me the series (or full story) is already planned out in rough before I even put the proverbial pen to the paper. It changes and expands as I go, but the basic timeline remains the same. It started simple, then as my ideas developed/simmered , I came to realize that it couldn't fit into one book, or two, or even three. I have no idea how long my series will actually be.

So for me the next book started before I began, in a sense. As far as a prequel is concerned, I already have enough history to start one if I wanted. I would make a word of caution though, I am a brand, shiny new author that has not been published yet, so take what I say with a grain of salt.


[This message has been edited by MikeL (edited December 15, 2010).]

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Member # 9148

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Usually for me I start to think of the next story before I finish the one I'm working on, or even the one before it. In other words I have a bunch of stories floating around in my head all the time. Sometimes I write them out in the order I received them in and sometimes not. A few months ago I had a mental list of what stories I was going to do but an idea formed one day and I ended up doing that one in front of all the others. I wrote it out in three or four sittings during two days.

Many times I don't have the whole story planned in my head but usually the opening and enough of the scenes to know where the story is going. A lot of times I can finish one story and be ready to start the next one immediately. Sometimes I work on two to to four stories at a time. Notice I said a lot of times I can start the next one immediately. Sometimes I do have to think of a new story after I finish the one I'm working on. In those cases I wait 'till I'm finished at least with the first draft before I start to think of the next story.

I hope that all makes sense.

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Member # 9196

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Like LD2, I'm usually thinking of new ideas while working on the current project. Usually these ideas come to me either when I'm in bed, so I keep an idea journal on the night stand; in the car, so I have an app on my phone to record the ideas; or at my computer, so I have a large dry-erase board there to jot ideas down.

I usually only write down a keyword or two, what I call a trigger. I find I don't need to write it ALL down, just enough to pull the idea back into my 'active' memory.

Once I'm ready to focus on another project, I just let myself think about it for a couple of weeks. Like genevieve said, I find it better to let an idea percolate inside my head until it absolutely demands to be written.

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Member # 4849

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I have a cork board and index cards (I HAD Scrivener, which has a virtual cork board). I have thousand of ideas throughout the day, not all of them usable, but the ones that stick...and for more than just one day...I put up on the board in a logline. Whether I'm writing another story or not, I stare at the idea morning and night. If thoughts occur that add to it, I'll cluster them around it. One of two things happen: 1) The ideas just sit there. Build to a certain point and no more. 2) I start getting inspired, and backstory and end come to me. Then I start filling in both until I come full circle and the backstory is evident in the end, and the end the only course from the beginning (which sometimes takes a while), and the backstory leads up to a starting point.
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Member # 5512

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I am in the middle of writting a piece. I'm actively planning two, maybe three additional pieces. I also have some minor pieces ready to be put to work.
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Dark Warrior
Member # 8822

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Whenever I am watching movies. Most ideas come while I am engrossed in a movie and I see a scene or feel an emotion that makes me think...well that is good, but what if--
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Robert Nowall
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The idea for my next one usually, but not invariably, emerges in the process of writing the current one...I used to make extensive notes in various forms, but right now I just keep all my notes in my head. If anything does arise, I'll make a note of it at the beginning of the file.

"Fleshing out" too much beforehand kinda kills the point of writing it down, at least with me. So I try to keep my notes to a bare minimum even when I do make them.

Now keeping each story straight is another matter...lots of times I found myself writing the name of one character in a totally different story---once even in the final draft that I sent out to market---and I've gone to persnickety revisionism to try to eliminate this sort of thing.

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Member # 9213

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When writing THE KABBALIST: THE FOUNDATION OF THE KINGDOM, I hazily perceived it as a possible series of five novels, each incorporating the realms/worlds/preternatural beings/qualities of two or three of the ten sephira (emanations from G-d) in the mystical Tree of Life. For example, this first novel involves the two lowest sephira, Yesod (Foundation--generative creation) and Malkuth (The Kingdom--our physical world). I have a bare-bones outline for the other potential four books.

Also, during the writing of this first novel, I utilized the Tolkienesque hint of ancient history and preternatural realms and conflicts and other paranormal cases in my protagonist's past, and I even found myself briefly including an object or knowledge that I perceive playing roles in a future novel--despite not fully conceptualizing what I will do.

I also have conceived a bridging short story or novella between the first and second novel. Again, bare bones.

Will I ever write them? I don't know, but I hope so. I am thinking I should write a prequel short story, now that I know my characters so well, and attempt to publish it as a means of creating agent/editor interest in the novel and potential series.

However, I do have responsibilities to my family and patients that must take priority (and I also recognize I can never earn a living as a writer near what I currently provide my family). Thus, my story production is languorous.

But I do do love writing.
Thus, I, too, have a file folder with story snippets and ideas awating the day I can dedciate myself to them.

Dr. Bob

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Member # 7760

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Usually I start thinking about my next story when I am in the middle of editing the last one.

But I think that's because I hate editing.

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Member # 9148

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Speaking of doing a sequel. That usually comes at different times. With one, "New Mage On The Block" soon after starting it I came up with an idea for her brother to join her for an adventure, and the ending to that adventure. But that ending didn't go along with the novel I was working on. So it will go into the next one. And in a minute or two I came up with the plot for the second. I had already established the fact that my MC had a brother who was a cop in another city. Also I had established that their older sister had been raped and killed, a few years before. So brother the cop gets hold of the police record of their sister's death and finds things never reported in the media. They both go after the killer. And I figured out who that is. I still haven't finished the first novel yet much less have it published but I know, pretty much, the next book's plot. And I know the opening scene.

The same thing goes for another novel I'm working on some times. I'm not even half way through writing the first one and I know the beginning, a couple scenes and the who the bad guy is for the next one.

I can't recall which one at the moment but there's another novel I'm working on that I know the basic idea for book number two.

I have five or more short stories that will have sequels some day. I know at least the basic ideas for each. Some ideas came after I finished the first story and some came as I was writing the first one.

[This message has been edited by LDWriter2 (edited December 15, 2010).]

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