I asked on Twitter what I should write about today because I like to feel there’s some interest beforehand. That means people will read what I have to say!
So Eliza asks, “How do you keep more than one story / universe in your head at a time?”
I definitely have some experience at this. At this time, I am writing the Sirantha Jax series (romantic science fiction), the Corine Solomon series (urban fantasy), paranormal romantic suspense as Ava Gray, post-apocalyptic YA, and I just sold a trilogy of collaborative books. If you’re counting, that’s five different worlds and storylines.
First, I try to write one book at a time, unless deadlines are sticky. When I’m signing contracts I look at my schedule to see how I can slot them to permit that one-book-at-a-time process. Sometimes I do double up with revisions, edits or proofs, but that’s not the same type of work. Once, I did write two books simultaneously — one in the mornings, and the other in the evenings, but since they were different genres, there was no overlap.
Next, it’s crucial to know your characters. If you know them, then it doesn’t take as much effort to get inside their heads. Therefore, it’s easier to slide back into the POV of a character I’ve written often. Jax, for instance, is no trouble, even if it’s been a while since I wrote the last book. Corine, too, is fairly simple. These are series heroines and I’ve written for them quite a lot. It’s tougher with my Ava Gray books because each one features a different set of characters. That means I have to get to know them fresh each time; it’s like making new friends, not renewing old relationships.
I have a natural ability to keep a lot of information straight in my head, but it may help you to take notes regarding your various stories and worlds. Software like Scrivener and WriteWayPro can help with that. Scrivener comes with a corkboard for posting your notes all around your manuscript, which some writers find very convenient.
Finally, the most important thing you can do if you’re planning to juggle multiple projects is to commit to one. You may want to write all ten of your awesome ideas, but you do need to prioritize. Which one do you love most? Which one haunts your dreams and won’t let you sleep?
I don’t do it all at once. I write them as they’re due. If you don’t put all of your energy and emotion into your books, I suspect it shows. I do dedicate all my energies to whatever book I am writing at the time. I fall in love with my hero. I sympathize with my heroine. While I am writing that particular book, I live what they do, feel what they do. In some ways it’s like channeling their emotions. That’s how I make it seem real on the page. I don’t hold back. It can be an exhausting way to write, but if you aren’t having any emotional response at all to what you’re writing, how will readers feel when they read your words? I recommend taking notes on the others, so you don’t lose any ideas while you’re wrapping up the project you’re working on. I do caution against leaping from project to project without finishing. In my opinion, that’s the way to wind up with twelve partial manuscripts and nothing to sell.
Well, I hope this has been somewhat helpful. Feel free to ask specific questions and I’ll answer.