World Building and Series Organization
World building is a time consuming process. There is a lot to take into account when you are considering every aspect of a new world…how it came to be, what kinds of people lived there, how its landscape, history, economy, religion, and politics developed over time to the point where your book plot begins. How is what you write going to shape that world’s future for any additional books you may be planning?
In my case, I am also writing a Christian-based story, which adds a whole other layer of responsibility. Despite the change in worlds and histories, the same Biblical truths need to play out, even if the details of how they happen are completely different. Good theology and imagination need to carefully blend together so that I do not unintentionally say something blasphemous between the lines! Allegorical writing is a lot harder than I had anticipated when I started the first book, but the challenge keeps me praying, studying, and growing spiritually, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m a work in progress just as much as my series is. There are some basic tools I use to keep my plans, inspirations, and research in order while I continue on this writing journey, which is definitely a labor of love—and faith.
There is a lot of information to wrap my head around, and to manage in a practical way so that I don’t contradict myself or forget what was written before. Keeping an accurate outline is extremely important for me. Without it, I get off track too easily or forget what I need to do in order to keep the whole series moving forward as it should. The outline for the book I’m working on now (coming out in late summer) is 21 pages long. Over time I’ve only had to make minor changes to accommodate new ideas or fix things that didn’t work out as I expected.
In addition to my outline, I spent months creating a comprehensive timeline for my world. I started from the moment of creation, working my way forward in time to the present day for my main characters. The timeline includes significant events, places, people (including births and deaths), writings, and the “years” in which everything happened.
This has been invaluable when it comes to keeping all of these things spaced apart appropriately. I don’t lose track of how old people are, or what would have been happening in another part of my world when they were only children that eventually circled back to affect them as adults.
Additionally, each era of time has a brief historical overview. This allows me to step back from the details and gain perspective on how my world changes over time and what has influenced that change. My timeline is 14 pages long and growing. Sounds like overkill, right? Perhaps it is. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to that document for help. As my plot and world grows more complex, I would be lost without my timeline.
Plot Thread Organizer
One thing I have yet to create, but am going to begin working on this month, is a plot thread organizer. Because I am writing a series, not everything gets resolved in each book. There are still plot threads and details hanging out there that will need to get tied back into the larger story. It would be very easy to miss some of them if I don’t find a better way to keep track than just my memory. Someone reading the series just once might never notice these loose threads, but anyone who goes back to read it again probably will. I want to make sure every detail gets resolved appropriately, however small. In the end, my series should be one that you can read more than once, and pick up on new things each time.
I am not sure yet how I am building this organizer (I am open to suggestions). It may just be an excel spreadsheet. But if I get ambitious, I may create a searchable Access database that will allow me to build more complex filters and reports. Whether successful or not, I anticipate that my attempt and its results will eventually make its way onto my blog. It is all part of the journey that makes being a fantasy author so challenging and interesting.
Excerpt from Journey to Aviad (252 words)
Elowyn tried very hard to avoid looking directly at Braeden. The darkened eyes, the pale, sallow, strange fitting skin, the crooked nose and twisted smile … everything about him repulsed her. Enduring his presence was like reliving a nightmare that even the strength of the midday sun could not chase away. With every bite Elowyn took, she was trying to choke down with it the terror rising steadily to the top of her throat. She remembered all too clearly the black aura that had enveloped Braeden at Elias’ execution, even if she had been the only one to notice it. In but one fleeting moment, the directness of his gaze had seemed to penetrate all her defenses and left her feeling violated. If he’d had this effect on her from afar, how much more would he affect her now that he was just across the table? What would Braeden find should his probing eyes look directly into hers, and more importantly, what would he take? Would the darkness he exuded surround her too? She shuddered as she imagined it eating away, not at her flesh, but at the very essence of her being, until she was nothing more than an empty vessel, waiting to be filled by whatever horrors he saw fit to destroy her with.
Perhaps that was what had become of Darik, staring down at the food on his trencher as if he didn’t really see it, the line of his jaw hardened and tense, his expression cold and empty.
Journey to Aviad Synopsis
Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. She soon realizes that the storms are but a warning sign of much more frightening things yet to come.
Terrifying wolf-like creatures emerge from the depths of the wilderness at the bidding of a dark master. His name found only among the crumbling pages of ancient texts, the re-appearance of Alazoth and his Hounds is a dark omen for the people of Tyroc and beyond. Only legends remain of the heroes and prophets whose blood was shed ages ago to banish him into the abyss, which should have remained his prison for all time. How he has been released is a mystery, but all the old stories agree that death and destruction are sure to follow.
With the Hounds inching closer each day, the city of Tyroc caught up in religious and political turmoil, and her home life no less turbulent, Elowyn has nothing left to rely on but her meager courage and a budding faith in Aviad, the Creator. She and her sister, Morganne, set out on a remarkable journey that challenges everything they have ever known about themselves, the world, and the path that Aviad has laid out for them.
Allison D. Reid’s passion for medieval history and fantasy was sparked by writers like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, and Lloyd Alexander. She also spent years living in Europe, captivated by its ancient towns, cathedrals, and castles. She received her B.A. in writing from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Her first published work, Journey to Aviad, is a Christian Fantasy novel—the first in The Wind Rider Chronicles book series. Many of her short stories relate back to the world of her books. Allison has two young daughters, runs a small business with her husband, and also provides editing services to other independent authors.