Some writing advice dictates that you should never ‘save’ anything for future works, but instead leave it all on the table in your current work, as if it will be the only book you’ll ever write. There’s some merit in that, sure, but it can be hard advice to follow when your current story starts getting out of control. So I developed the Multiple Work theory to help me keep my stories simple and streamlined, and maybe it could help you too.
The Multiple Work Theory is basically the idea that you will have a long career of writing, and that instead of piling one idea after another into one work, you should spread them out over multiple works. Not only will this guarantee you have future projects you can work on when you finish your current work, but it will also help the current work be more manageable.
It started because I would often look at writing and think, ‘What do I want to write?’ (Which is easiest to answer when you think ‘What do I want to read?’). But I would have so many different answers, all of which contradicted each other–I want single POV, no, multiple POV; I want a crossover character (who is unaware of the supernatural and so must ‘cross over’ into that world), no, I want an indigenous character (one who is already in that world); etc. And I’d try to figure out how to have all of these things at once, until I was building multiple-book series of insane size that I really couldn’t write after all, and so I’d collapse in defeat.
And then I thought, why not split them up? One book with a single POV crossover character, and one book with multiple POV indigenous characters, and so on. Like I said, it not only made me relax about having future projects in the works, but it also made focusing on a single, simple project for now a lot easier.
The biggest challenge with the Multiple Work Theory (that I’m still struggling with) is deciding what your current project should be. Is it a matter of what you want the most, or of what would be a best first project, or something else? Should you write the multiple works all at the same time, or one after the other (that depends most on your work style)? Should you still be writing series (particularly in the fantasy genre) or standalone novels? And so on… But I still believe the theory will help me organize my thoughts and de-stress a bit.
Or, at least, that’s the theory. 🙂