Sunday, January 14, 2018

Story Workbook: Part 7 – Outlines and Series Wrap-Up

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuildingStory Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 7 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)

Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


The final section of your story workbook is pretty self-explanatory.  You put your outlines there.  'Nuff said.  If you have rewritten that outline nine different times and you have notes for a chapter you want to shove between chapters six and seven, throw it in the Outlines section.  You'll thank me for this sage advice later.

If you have been following this series since I began it back in December 2017, then you should have most of a Story Workbook in front of you.  It may not be pretty, but you have gotten the information down.  It’s out of your head, and it is down on paper so it cannot be forgotten.

And that is the point of a story workbook.

Because you will forget it.

So, if you take anything away from this series, let it be this:  WRITE IT DOWN!

It doesn’t have to be organized, but let’s face it, being organized makes it a great deal easier to find those pesky details from book one or paragraph four that you can’t seem to remember off the top of your head in book three or in the final paragraph of your story.  But it does have to be written down and, preferably, in the same notebook or folder.

So, now that you have finished your story workbook, and you know everything there is to know about your world and your characters, let’s go write the book.

I hope you enjoyed this series!  I had a blast writing it.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Story Workbook: Part 6 – Cities and Towns

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuildingStory Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 5 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)

Cities and Towns

This week is the final part of world-building for me.  Cities and Towns (and Villages and a tent by the sea…).  This part covers anywhere that people live.  If you have an old hermit that lives in a cave by the sea, you may want a small section for him with details on how to get to that place, if it is visited more than once, what he looks like, and everything about his hole in the mountain.

For cities and towns, I start by drawing a map.  Especially if my characters are going to be spending more than a chapter in the place or if they will be returning to it with some frequency.  So, draw a map.  It does not have to be pretty.  It’s there to help you remember that the baker is on the southeast side of the marketing square, and that the blacksmith is not next to the tavern, and so on and so forth.

Now, if your characters are going to be in and out of an establishment, you may want to get even more detailed.  Who owns it?  What items are on the shelves? Is the door a whole door or is it a baker’s door, where the top half opens but the bottom half stays closed? 

In my Ithmere series, Relanka is a witch and an adept healer with herbs, so she frequents the apothecaries of every town they come to.  In one particular book, she visits the apothecary in the Upper Residential area of Five Points three times before they leave the town.  I know every item that Belia (the apothecary) carries, where they are on the shelves, and I know if she has more stock in the back.  I also know that her husband is a snitch, but that’s for y’all to learn more about when the books start coming out.

So get detailed.  Determine who lives in which house.  It may never end up in your novels or stories, but you never know, and you really don’t want to say that the tavern is next door to the baker’s in one chapter, then say that it is sandwiched between the blacksmith and the apothecary in another chapter.

Also, remember that some towns might not follow the cultural and religious norms of the realm.  They may worship a different goddess in a particular town.  The town may be run by pirates.  Just play around with your world.

I know that this is a short section, but that really is all there is to your Cities and Towns section.  Organize them within your binder as you see fit.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Story Workbook: Part 5- Countries and Realms

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuildingStory Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 5 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)


Countries and Realms


Last week, we went over continents and large land masses and how I set them up within the World section of my Story Workbooks.  As I said before, this is just the way I set my workbook up and this is the information that I tend to include because it is important to my way of creating.  You can organize your workbook and include any information that you wish.

After you have set up your workbook with continent tabs, country sub-tans, city/town sub-sub-tabs and so on, you have to start detailing your world.  I have provided a graphic below that includes the majority of the information that I use.  You don’t have to include all of this information, but remember that the culture and society that your character grew up in will greatly affect the way he responds to society as an adult.  A character who grew up in a matriarchal society will treat women with more reverence and respect than a character who grew up in a patriarchal society, most likely.  So please fill in as much of this information as you can.







Another thing I include is creatures and races.  Any forests or areas uninhabited by sentient beings, I list with a tabbed section and I draw a rough map and populate it with creatures.  It helps me keep track of what can and can’t exist in the climate I created there.

If any races gather in a specific region who wouldn’t normally be there, I note that as well.

Any detail you come up with, write it down.  When you are writing, you have to immerse your reader in your world, and it is hard to pull off if you do not know your world well enough.  So, create your world.  Draw in as many of the details as you can.

And it’s okay if you can’t come up with all the details now.  When we start working on the cities and towns in the next segment, you can come back and add in details as you need to.

This concludes the Countries/Realms overview.  I hope that this layout helps you as you are creating your world and your story workbook.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Story Workbook: Part 4 – World

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuildingStory Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 4 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)

World


Some story worlds are small.  Your characters are boxed inside a nice, neat little area where they can’t cause too much havoc and chaos.  These worlds are easy to set up and probably won’t take up much space in your workbook.

Other worlds may be large, almost sprawling, so it is best to approach this section with an organized plan and a clear frame of mind.  I always start by setting up sections for my largest land areas, be they continents, countries, realms–whatever.  If I have a lot of these, I use post-it notes or flags to label them because these large land masses will eventually become sections with sub-sections and sub-sub-sections (and stapled on or paper-clipped on pictures, notes, maps, etc).  Tabbing them in some way at least creates the facade of contained chaos.

Underneath each of those largest land masses, you will next create sections for the second largest land masses within each of the largest land masses.  This may be cities and towns, feudal estates, or even ecosystems within the land area.  To better explain, let me show you can example below:


That is a continental breakdown for my world of Ithmere.  Since I know that Ithmere is my world, it does not have a header in the notebook, but each of the continents/countries that I listed below that header will have a tabbed section within my World index.























Once the continents/countries are arranged in a manner befitting to me (ABC for this OCD), I create sub-sections beneath those countries for each city or town within the controlled realm.  Ignore the city and town names.  I pulled parts from five different maps together to create this example.  (Yes, the Chronicles of Ithmere is a huge mess right now.  I’m working on it!)

If there are even smaller areas within the second largest land masses, create another set of subsections.

This week is entirely about setting up the main headers within the World section.  Next week, I will go into further breakdown and the information you may need or want to include in this section.  If you wish to, start filling in the large land details.  Is it hilly or flat?  Cliffs at the coast?  Is it landlocked?

If you are having trouble with this, download my Land Creation Worksheet (it’s free!) to get the ball rolling.  Go as far as you can with the details.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Story Workbook: Part 3 – Characters

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuildingStory Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 3 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)

Characters


As I said in the last installment of the Story Workbook series, there are three sections to each of my workbooks: World, Characters, and Outlines.  Today, I will be covering Characters because it is fairly straightforward, and most books are character-driven, which makes this a very important section.
I give each character their own page or pages (some of my characters are books unto themselves).  I write their given name at the top of the page and fill in their information below.  My characters are also organized alphabetically, either by last name or first name, depending on whether or not they only have one or both.  (At this point, the three-ring binder comes in very handy because I can create my characters in any order and they always have the exact amount of space that they need.)

Now, you don’t have to organize your characters in this way.  This is just the way that is the easiest for me.  I know writers who organize their character pages by familial groups, social groups, religious sects, etc.  Whatever way makes it easiest for you to track down your information when you need to find it, go for it.

The only thing I try to set in stone is the information that I include.  I like to know my characters inside and out.  Every nitty gritty detail from their past, every embarrassing moment that they wish their friends would forget, every secret that they never want anyone to ever find out.  It’s all in there because I never know when I will need it.

I set up every character page the same.  I open with physical traits, the stuff that rarely changes (ie, your main character’s hair is brown at first but she dyes it blonde later.  Both are useful to know.  However, she will always be 25 years old in your novel.)  Then I include personality traits, and I close with their history.

Physical Traits


This is pretty straightforward.  Gender, race, hair color, eye color, birth date (or age).  If alignment is a big thing in your novel series, it should go here.  It can change, but it is “need to know” information that you don’t want to have to flip through all your previous manuscripts to find out again if you have forgotten.  If anything changes, strike it out and write the new information beside it.  I also include the date of death, if applicable.

Personality Traits


Personality traits are mostly set in stone.  People can change, and at least your main character is supposed to have some sort of growth before your novel closes, but for the most part, your characters will be pretty par for the course.  I try to give each of my main characters at least three traits to start with so that I have something to build on, but some are a little more complex than others.  For a long list of personality traits, you can check out this site.  It is, by no means, a complete list, but there are a lot there to choose from.  Also remember that your characters can have contradicting traits.

Histories


This is, by far, my most favorite section when it comes to my characters.  Most writers don’t want to go too much into their characters in fear that they may write all the spark out of their characters before they get the story they want to tell down on paper, and that’s cool.  I totally get it.

But I want to know where my character comes from.  I want to know that when Relanka was five, she was taken from her parents and put into hiding on a magical island in the middle of nowhere because she had become to vessel for the most powerful and the most evil dragon ever known in Ithmere.  I want to know that she is also a very powerful witch and that she was taken from her home by the corrupted king of Umbria because he wanted to take her magics.  I also want to know that he tortured her for a year because between her magic and the magic of the dragon soul that she protected within her, the corrupted king was unable to take away her magic and use it for his own gain.  I also want to know that Praetor, the dragon soul within her, has fallen in love with his Keeper (Relanka), and he will gladly give up what little life he has left to keep her safe.

For me, this helps me really know my character.  It helps me write them better because I know exactly what they have been through to get to this moment.

Some of my character pages are one or two pages.  Others are *cough* fourteen or fifteen pages, front and back.  It all depends on the character and how much I really need to know about them.

Do whatever you need to do to get a feel for your characters.  This is information that you will refer to many times as you write, and sometimes, it will change.  Usually, though, it will remain the same throughout the entire series.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuildingStory Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 2 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)

What to Include?


Last week, we covered the pros and cons when choosing the right notebook for your story workbook.  This week, we will walk through the three main sections of your workbook and various sub-topics that I include in these sections.

For all of my workbooks, the three main sections are always the same.  Every book has a world in which it is set.  Every book has a set of characters that things happen to.  And most good books have some semblance of an outline done at some point before a finished draft.  Those are your three main sections: World, Characters, and Outlines.

World Building

For me, the World section is the most fun section to fill out, albeit the hardest.  Keep in mind that the majority of my written creations are science fiction and fantasy, adjust your sections as you see fit.  Subjects I cover in the World section include:

World Information: Continents and Countries
Magic System / Technology
Religion and Deities
Creature Information
Race Information
Group Information
Legends and Lore (World Legends Only — Legends for a particular region/country go beneath their headers)
For each continent and country in the world information, there is a subsection.  And in each of those subsections, I include:
Government Setup
Trade Information
Important Treaties
Important Laws (No magic allowed in Grevaine is important if you are a warlock)
Local Legends and Lore

Under Magic Systems / Technology, I include any information I need to remember about spells, potions, medicines (for Technology: pulse rifles, fusion cores, etc).  If only mages with red hair can cast fire spells, make a note of it.  If pulse rifles have a five-second recharge between shots, write it down.  Trigger-happy outlaws may want to avoid that particular model of pulse weapons.

Religion and Deities covers any worldwide religious system.  If you have a particular country that believes something different, or if all of your countries have different beliefs, you can make this section a subsection for Continents and Countries.

For Creatures and Races, anything you create needs its own subsection.  Include information on what your creatures eat, how they hunt, reproduce (can’t have your creature give birth to live young in one scene then find crushed eggshells of the same creature later).  For any race that you create, include information such as stature, customs, quirks (seriously, how many times does a Hobbit eat during the day?).  You may not use this information in your draft, but knowing your creatures and races, inside and out, will make writing them a lot easier.

Many of you are probably wondering what I mean by “Group Information.”  For me, a group is any gathering that does not fit within any particular country’s setup.  A worldwide collective, so to speak.  In my Ithmere workbook, the Sect of Benekath would go here.  For my Pangaea series, the Pangaea Project would go under this section.  Any group that has an impact on the world as a whole but is not considered a religion needs to be detailed within this subsection.

Last, but not least, we have the Legends and Lore section.  Any notable history that shaped your world into what it is at the time you started creating it goes in this section.  For example, from the Dragonlance series, the story of Huma and Kaz would go here.  The creation of the dragonlances would go here.  The tale of Theros Ironfield would go beneath this section.  These are all stories that everyone in Krynn has been told repeatedly as a child.  They are legends.

Characters

For the next main section of your workbook, you will be gathering character data.  This section is fairly straightforward.  Each character gets their own page.  Write down important facts–hair color, eye color, height, education, race, sexual aptitude–all that fun stuff.  Then make background notes.  If your female lead lost a child in a traumatic event, that will change her outlook on things and will affect the way she handles day-to-day life.  It may make her reckless.  It may make her overly-careful.  Either way, note what made her the way she is in your workbook.  It may come up later.

Outlines

Most “workbookers” don’t include my last main section in their workbooks because outlines are not set in stone.  They do change, and oftentimes, they change a lot.  I put all my outlining work in this third section because I am a mom with four small kids.  Keeping up with them is a full-time job.  Do you think I will remember where I put a piece of paper with my book outline on it twenty minutes from now?  No, I won’t.  I can’t remember where I took my shoes off most of the time.  So, my outlines go in here.  It helps me maintain some level of sanity.

Closing

I refer to the Character section a lot more frequently than I do the World section, but I organize my workbooks with the World section first every time.  Why?  Without a solid world, my characters can’t exist.  The items I include in the World section are the foundation for my characters.

How can you create a well-rounded character if you do not know the society that he/she was born into?  You may have an idea of the character you want to create, but that idea must be supported by the society they grew up in.  People are products of their society and their history, so you must create that world first.  That’s why I always put the World section first.

The most important thing to remember when creating a story workbook is to write it down.  Every time you give a character a trait, write it down.  Every time you describe a specific aspect of society, write it down.  Every time you introduce a new religion or cultural group, write it down.

Write it down.

Write It Down.

WRITE IT DOWN.

You won’t remember it in the morning.  I guarantee that you won’t.  Write it down.

These are the basics for setting up a general story workbook.  Next week, we will go into world-building and writing down the important information in your journal.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Story Workbook: Part 1 – Which Notebook?

Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook - Jessica Cauthon #storyworkbook #writing #worldbuilding
Story Workbook Series: Part 1 - Which Notebook?
Story Workbook Series: Part 2 - What to Include?
Story Workbook Series: Part 3 - Characters
Story Workbook Series: Part 4 - World
Story Workbook Series: Part 5 - Countries and Realms
Story Workbook Series: Part 6 - Cities and Towns
Story Workbook Series: Part 7 - Outlines and Series Wrap-Up


Welcome to Part 1 of the Story Workbook Series: Creating a Story Workbook for Your Stories and Novels.  This is, by no means, the only way to create a story workbook.  I am simply walking you through my process of setting one up.  Feel free to make any changes that you deem necessary to help you organize your notes for your novel or novel series.  The goal of the story workbook is to get it all together in one place so that you can start -- and finish! -- your novel with ease.  (Well, let's be honest, with as much ease as you can have while bleeding out a seventy-five thousand word novel.)

Which Notebook?


The first thing that has to be done before you can began to set up your story workbook is to  decide what type of notebook you will use to keep your notes together.  There are so many different types of notebooks to choose from, but remember that you will be working in this notebook for a while, and this notebook will be abused.  It will be crammed into the bottom of your purse or messenger bag.  You will be ripping out pages, cramming in post-it notes, and who knows what else to this book.

Some writers will prefer a really nice journal, such a leather-bound ledger or diary-style notebook.  To write in it would be a treat.

Others will prefer a moleskin journal.  It’s bound the same, but they tend to be more compact.  They are also fairly inexpensive, and they seem to hold up to my wear and tear quite well.

And others still will prefer to create their workbook in a simple spiral-bound or sewn-bound notebook such as a Mead composition book or a Five-Star composition notebook.

These all work perfectly fine.  You just have to make sure you leave enough room in each section to fill in your creative notes.

I, personally, prefer a 3-ring binder and loose-leaf paper.

I find that a 3-ring binder lets me add and subtract story pieces, as needed, without leaving too much of a mess behind.  Decided that a Krillan is truly a vegetarian and only follows your characters around to gather knowledge for world domination?  No problem!  Simply remove the pages that involve their formerly-carnivorous ways and supplement the new pages.  No headache, and no unsightly jagged edges where you had to rip out those pages.

Usually, a one-inch binder will suffice, even for a series of books.  Most of my workbooks are one-inch binders.  One of my workbooks, however, is a three-inch binder.   Pick your binder appropriately.  If you are writing a standalone novel or even an eight-book series, a one-inch or one-and-a-half-inch binder will be plenty of room.

If, however, you are writing a sprawling epic saga that takes place over five generations of six different families, you may want to grab the biggest binder you can find.

Other supplies that you will need to set up your story workbook include:  tabbed dividers or whatever you prefer to separate your sections, pencils (you can use ink if you wish, but pencil is much more forgiving). and, of course, some loose-leaf paper.

In next week’s post, we will set up your workbook and walk through a general overview of what you will be including in your workbook.