Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Not Four?

I don't want to wade back into the outlining vs. not-outlining question, but I'm curious ... how does everyone else do it? 

The project I'm working on now has many, many characters, plus magic, plus 141 individual dragons, long-standing families, several groups vying against each other, etc., etc., etc. I've got myself a black, three-ring binder with page dividers. And I'm slowly building it out -- profiles of all the characters, spell lists and components, dragon profiles, settings and maps, family histories. It's a lot of information, but my goal is to basically write a reference book about my story, and then start the actual writing. Or maybe write in bits and pieces as I'm going along.

I know how this sounds. Ick, right? The opposite of fun and creative. More like chemistry homework. But I really can't think of any other effective and efficient way to go about a project like this. So I'm really curious ... how would other people do it? How would you approach a story like this?

And another thing -- what's the deal with series always having odd numbers of books? Why does it have to be a trilogy, or five books, or seven books or even thirteen books? Why not four? The reason I ask, of course, is that I've got four books planned in this series, but I wracked my brain last night and I couldn't think of a single series with four books. Not one. Um, hello? Don't people like even numbers? 

Somebody, please help me out on this one.


Jude Hardin said...

Or maybe write in bits and pieces as I'm going along.

That's what I would do. I can imagine becoming so obsessed with that three-ring binder that the first book never gets written. :)

I'm not sure why not four. There's something archetypal about threes and sevens, I think, so maybe that's part of it.

LurkerMonkey said...

Bastard archetypes ...

That's funny about getting obsessed with the binder. I can see it happening, that someone would just get bored with the whole thing, but I suppose that's a risk I'm willing to run. Anyway, it's kind of fun.

Mark Terry said...

I just wing it, but like I mentioned before, this is harder with the SF novel I'm working on because there are so many new concepts and backstories to deal with.

spyscribbler said...

I tend to write in SuperNotecard. I write one scene per card, and it automatically creates an outline in the sidebar as I go along.

After dealing with the mess of three series of pantsing, I now take scrupulous notes as I go along. I don't pre-create a bible, but I now create it as I go along. That way nothing contradicts.

It looks like Charlaine Harris's Harper Connelly series is going to be 4 novels.

LurkerMonkey said...


I've never used that Notecard program ... It sounds like something I'd like.

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