Thursday, 8 October 2015

35 Day Blog Challenge - Day 26: Keeping track of detail in series writing

Style sheet, Keeper of the Dragon Sword
Style sheet: Keeper of the Dragon Sword
There is a handy little tool used by editors and copy editors that I found to be useful for series writing: it is called a style sheet. While editors will use it to keep track of unique words, facts they have to check, spelling of characters' names (especially the weird ones I sometimes use) and so on. The editor does not know your story the way you do, so by making notes they keep track of things they have to check to make the editing of your story the best it can be.
As a fantasy and science fiction author, I sometimes have to invent words. I often come up with unusual names for my characters, for instance Alu''Adr'Erinia is the Guardian of the Future, whom you will meet in Michael's Mystery. Not only do I need to keep track of multiple characters as the series evolves, I have to keep track of the spelling of their names too. Those apostrophes - what was I thinking?
It is not only the names that I need to keep track off, but also the setting. The stories of the Nations of Peace take place on several planets, but my characters also travel from one to another. The means of travel depends on the reason for their journey. In Géra's Gift, T'ara, Ta'an and Géra were on space ships involved in a war with the planet Simi.
In book 4, Waiting for Adrian (coming in 2016) there is another war, so keeping track of the technology of the war machine is important.
Also important is knowing (and keeping it straight) which characters have what abilities. Who can space jump for instance. And who can dimension jump. There is a difference between the two modes of travel, and remembering who can do what can become a nightmare without using some kind of tool to help out.
Whether your series is simpler or more complicated as this one of mine, keeping a record of things and people featuring in multiple stories, is essential.
I found using style sheets to be an easy and quick way to do it, but whatever means you choose, keeping your facts straight across several books can be challenge if you are not prepared for it from the start.

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