Besides the story which this author feels is the most crucial element of any good book, what else is required to write your novel, or series of novels? As all books are different, as are the writers who write them and the methods and techniques we authors use to get to our end goal which is another finished book, the following is just suggestions that this author has come across of possible support material for writing your masterpiece. Take what you will, leave what doesn’t apply.
(The picture above is a picture of a combat support unit.)
I. The Characters Sheet
A. The Cast of your book. Where you keep track of the names you used and who does what to whom.
This is very important as I learned when writing my first book “Whisper” because Carl Sanford’s wife had one name in the start of the book and a different name at the end of the book. Whoops! By the time the book was edited she and I both knew what her name really would be.
B. This can also be useful for recording the characteristics of your characters. Hair color, eye color, height, weight, build, what are they like. In a series you may need to describe them more than once or as you add bits and pieces to them over time through the books you want to have a record of what you have said about them.
II. A Time Line
What happens in what order. Since both of my first two books deal with elements of traveling through time this was a must have in order to keep things straight and in a logical and consistent manner. My second novel “No Rules Of Engagement”, I had to go back through the book at the request of one of the editors and add date and time tags throughout the book because it is so hard to follow. The time line for it and the sequel is eight pages single spaced by itself. I am thinking of including the time line at the end of the sequel to “No Rules Of Engagement.”
III. The Outline of the story.
I use many of these. I generally start with an overall outline but it changes as I get stuck and change things to un-write myself out of corners. My best plot twists have come from writing myself into corners and then thinking my way out of them rather than backing up and rewriting my way out. For “No Rules Of Engagement”, the training battles, and later for the sequel which includes major battle sequences I used many smaller outlines for particular sections of the book to work out the timing and keep stuff straight through and during the actual writing of the chapters.
IV. The Travel Log
Where the action is taking place, where the characters will be visiting, eating, what they will be doing, staying the night, etc. The sequel to “Whisper”, “Leviathan Deterrent” which should be out later this year has the characters from Whisper running around Europe, South America and parts of North America. It was handy to have research material about the places they were staying, what they would be doing, how they would get from point A to point B in the book. I cataloged all that in the Travel Log.
V. General research material.
This is where you put the stuff you look up for use or description in your stories. I generally do much more research than what actually makes it into the story or past my editors red pen. I keep the stuff I research in case I need to refer back to it, or want to use it in another story later on down the road. Sometimes just browsing through the research material can spark all kinds of ideas for the truly creative and imaginative mind.
VI. Book Sales Spreadsheet.
What started off as a single page worksheet in Excel has grown to seven pages of records. When I first started I only had to track sales on Smashwords. Later then I added Amazon. Then Amazon UK, DE, FR, IT, and ES. Then other places where I have listed my book for sale. It is handy to keep records of royalties earned, royalties actually paid, expenditures associated with your books, and writing. It is a business. At some point you’re going to be sitting in front of an accountant or tax person trying to make sense of this all, so keep it straight.
As you add books to your portfolio or virtual book shelves that is that much more to keep track of. I also want to know how many copies I give away. How many virtual copies are out there potentially being read, so I track free books, partial downloads (on Smashwords – because they may lead to a potential sale later on.), and books sold. If you don’t have a sales spread sheet to keep track of book sales start one now!
That’s just a few of possible support materials you may need or want to create in addition to writing and working on your book. Again we are all different and go about reaching our writing goals differently as we all come up with different books. That’s part of what makes the whole thing so wonderful, reading, that is!
Best of work on your novels and books. Now get back to work!