I'm being asked continually when my next book is coming out. Okay, I released three in 2012. Impressed? Don't be. I'd been working on them since early 2011. One thing I'm able to do is work on more than one novel at a time. I have three going now.
When I mention that I have three works in progress, WIP, a needlework phrase since most people who knit, crochet, sew, etc. are very familiar with, I'm asked how can you keep the stories straight. For me it's not that difficult. Each novel has its own plot, events and unique characters. It's sort of like knowing what's going on with your in-laws on both sides of the family. You know who the individuals are and their triumphs and trials. How they handle them and whether they grow in character through them.
Just as we don't know the future of our lives but keep up and keep each family member straight I do the same with my characters. I find myself at least once in each novel knowing where I want to get to but not how to get there from where I am. That's when I'll switch to another WIP until I either get stuck in that one or the path the other needs to tread works itself out in my brain.
A couple of tips for doing this sort of multi-work writing. Keep a good character list with physical, family, dates, occupation, etc. in an easily accessed file. Having to hunt up the eye color of a minor character when needed because you haven't written about them in three weeks can save you from pulling out your hair trying to find the information.
For all you pansters out there, have a very rough synopsis of what goes on in each scene or chapter so you can easily pick up what happened when and where as you review a WIP to begin writing on it again.
Another thing I try to do is read a few chapters back to where I stopped writing so I know where I was headed. Not only does this refresh your memory of the story but also allows you to do some editing. Cleaning up your writing is something you'll do several times so cutting it up into little chunks can make that a less onerous task since you will have gone over it several times before you finish the first draft.
Some authors will look on this multiple works in progress and shake their heads at the lunacy of it. That's fine. I've always known I'm a little crazy. The creative process is different for each of us. Figure out if you can keep them straight or not. Either way. Go write and enjoy your method.
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