Saturday, November 10, 2012

Like a Fungus

Like a fungus, this series keeps mushrooming.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to develop a worksheet for my characters in Nebraska Sunrise in order to develop the romantic interests and develop the plot. Between army forts and Indians trying to save their lands, travel from the east to Oregon, California and Utah across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains, the gold rushes of the 1800s, the Civil War, the development of the stage line, the telegraph and the railroad, there is a lot of neat stuff that can show up in western novels of the 1860 through 1880 era, just in the Overland Trail/Union Pacific Railroad territory.

So much, in fact, that as I developed this worksheet, I realized it called for even another book to get it all in. Ah, the curse of research and finding out some more neat historical incidences and facts.

The deciding factor was the time issue. I felt I could only cover so much ground time-wise before the novel got too cluttered. So the first book will not be Nebraska Sunrise. What will the title be? Still working on it. But, I know who the leading characters will be and what they will be doing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Start At the Beginning

When writing a new novel series, that sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? Instead of jumping all over the place with thoughts scattered here, there and afar, just start at the beginning and go forward.

But, like I said in an earlier post, I came up with the story idea for book two, Wyoming Promise, FIRST. I fell in love with my characters, Theadora, Virgil, Vernon, James Clayton and sweet Vera FIRST. I became excited about developing the plot for book two FIRST.

So, yes, after doing the research, I realized there was more to the backstory of the events of the day than a chapter's worth. There was another whole novel! What potential for a great, fast-moving, exciting plot! And, yes, I can use most of the characters of the same families, with the focus on different family members than those who are prominent in Wyoming Promise. In fact, I have already decided that the main romantic interest will be Violet and her beau. I have even written the first (or one of the first) chapters in book one, Nebraska Sunrise. Unfortunately, it focuses on characters I will highlight in Wyoming Promise because I already love those characters.

Here is the problem. By not starting at the beginning, I still need to figure out the DETAILS of who Violet's beau is, how the two will meet, and how their romance will develop. I have the overview in mind based on the events of the day, but still need to develop the DETAILS of the plot and subplots. I am NOT in LOVE with this novel yet. Therefore, I am STRUGGLING to get Nebraska Sunrise out of the research and timeline mode and into the heavy-duty write-the-story mode.

This situation was sizing up to be a major writer's block for me. Today, to get me past it, for each novel I put together a table on which to list each character, details about then, and how they interact with each other. I also included a column for my analysis for future tweak potential. It is kind of like the planners I use researching real ancestors.

I also developed front pages for the three novels with the pedigrees of the major families. Anyone who knows me, does it really surprise you that I developed pedigree charts for my novel families?

Trails and Rails

I am starting a new romantic western series, Rails and Trails.

I have done more research in the early days of Wyoming from the beginning of the 1860s through the end of the 1870s than I ever thought I would want to. At first, my plan was to focus on Wyoming. But, since the theme is based on the Union Pacific Railroad being built and then later traveling through the territory, I realized it would make more sense (and not be as forced) if I also focus on the neighboring states of Nebraska and Dakota (there was no north and south in the Dakotas at the time). research has expanded to include those two states for that time period.

I have a timeline in spreadsheet format that amazes even me. Thank goodness for Excel. I'm glad it is digital, because it would probably take a small forest worth of paper to print it all out. If I had this on 3" x 5" index cards tacked to a bulletin board like I used to organize writing projects, I would need enough boards for two walls.

My main spreadsheet includes the time periods for all three novels plus the decades leading up to the first novel and a few key events after the third one. Then I have a separate timeline page specific to each novel pulled from the information from the master timeline. I have columns of straight history and columns for what is happening with my characters and the plots.

Tell you what I don't like about this series already. I am so captivated with the era that I cannot settle on where to start. I actually first came up with the idea and characters for book 2. Then I thought SERIES! I quickly thought up the idea for book 3. Then, doing the research, I developed a desire to write a novel to cover the time period I have now decided on for book 1. But, the more I study, the more I want to write a novel for the time BEFORE book 1.

No, I've decided, I need to contain my enthusiasm and start with these three.

Last Friday I wrote my first chapter for Book 1, tentatively titled Nebraska Sunrise -- 5,226 words. A good start.

Getting the Pages Feature Down

I am still learning the best was to set up pages with Blogger. I made a page under my blog, Robyn Echols Books, for Trails and Rails. It appears it is a static page. I cannot add to it. So, I am making a whole new blog for Trails and Rails and I will attach it to Robyn Echols Books. My next page will actually be my first entry for this blog.
Hayden Survey Party in Wyoming Territory about 1871