My book plan is to cover at least 2 possibly 3 books. I've skeletoned out the first book into a very brief plot. Should I do the same for book 2 and 3 before developing the plot of book 1 or should I just start writing? I'm getting a little bored of the planning and research stage and kind of just want to start writing. But from experience when I start writing without planning it doesn't end very well.

I haven't fully developed the first plot so what should my port of call be? Strenghten the first plot then start writing? Finish the skeleton for all books then start writing? Not start writing until both the skeleton and bulked out plot for all books have been written?

I did find a smiliar question asked 3 years ago but the answers didn't help me so I thought I would ask again.

6 Answers 6


I started writing my series on Book Two. I didn't know at the time it was going to be a series. A few chapters in I realized I didn't really have the main character's voice, so I decided to pause on the novel and write a short story to get to know him better. That "short story" is 130k into the first draft, and as the supporting characters started to talk and add their ingredients to the soup, I found out that there is story that needs to be told to get to Two, so what began as "a book" is now Book Three of what will be a Quintology. Probably.

"Pantsing" (i.e. writing by the seat of your pants) is no less valid a way to write than any other, easily illustrated via a quick google search. The specifics of how, why and what are up to you. There are no rules to writing. Are there pros and cons? Of course. Don't sweat them in this case though, because you'll figure it out as you go, and one of the advantages is its fluidity. The story tells itself, or perhaps better: the characters tell their own stories.

But if you're like me, I still need a roadmap.
So throughout my own writing journey of 180k words in my series, there is another 45k of planning: timelines, character histories, research topics, etc. I also found now and then that I would get overwhelmed by the tedium, or worried that I was "overdoing it". (I realized there is no such thing, btw, you will naturally put in as much work as you need, and don't let anybody tell you that you need more or less.) But there was a simple fix for that: When you get bored, switch gears.

Because boredom is the death of a story.
If you don't enjoying telling your story, then your readers won't enjoy reading it. Full stop. This is not to say that writing is easy, but the work of it should be gratifying despite the inherent tedium and monotony. It took me six months and at least a dozen tries to write a chapter where I was struggling to describe an operatic song to the reader. After three or four failed attempts, I considered ditching it completely; this is too hard, I'm just not good enough a writer to do this. Whenever it got too tedious, I just stopped writing that selection, only returned to it when I felt ready for another try, or new inspiration struck. It honed my workflow and ultimately made me a better writer. And the beauty of it is that the reader will never know. They'll read right through it smooth as butter.

Because writing a book is not specifically a linear task.
Write three chapters ahead so that you can go back and foreshadow properly. Move chapters around if you need to. Add some. Remove some. Or characters. Or books. The sweet spot I think is when your characters start telling you their story, and when that happens, your job is to listen to them and be their voice. I would go so far as to say that if you're writing linearly, you're likely missing opportunities. And if you did manage to plan out an entire series to the letter before you start writing prose, you'd probably be the first person who's ever done it. :)

That might be an exaggeration. Planning is no less viable than pantsing, and I am a character writer moreso than a plot writer. But no matter; at the end of the day:

  • Never mind the rules
  • Make up your own
  • Break or change as needed
  • Enjoy your book

I used the Snowflake Method to plan a multi novel series.

In short, the Snowflake Method consists of ten steps. The first is a one sentence summary of the book and the tenth is the first draft. Each step fleshes out the story more and more.

I planned my novels by first doing step 1 for all books, then step 2 and so on to step 4. (There's one Snowflake—ten steps—for each book.) Then I did steps 5–6 for the first few books. And finally the rest of the steps for the first book (i.e. wrote the first draft of the first book).

Having a framework like the Snowflake helped me do a rough sketch of all the books and doing it a step at a time made mistakes easy to fix and changes easy to handle.

I recommend stopping somewhere around steps 4–6 because writing each book will also teach you a ton about the story so things will be different after each book anyway, but having done this scaffolding the need for changes are less destructive.

So, in your case I'd say, flesh out the other books a bit, but don't go over board with it.

If you decide to try the Snowflake you might want to do steps 1–4 for all books and then 5–6 for books 1 & 2 and finally go all the way for book 1. Or stop earlier or later. Maybe you feel you just want to do steps 1–2?

Depending on how detailed your outline is, it might correspond with steps 8 or 9 in the Snowflake with character bios being steps 3, 5 and 7. You may still want to go back to step 1 to nail down things like what the story really is about, what the plot points are, etc.

Another variant is to just do very important characters in books 2–3 and then go back and add more characters once you get to each book.

Or you could just read the linked article on the Snowflake and translate it to your method of outlining or add to your method.


I can't imagine someone saying that it is BAD to plan ahead. The serious question is, Is it necessary?

To some extent, I think that answer is "yes". I've read some multi-volume series where the author clearly did not plan ahead or changed his mind, and so in later volumes he has to explain away things he said in earlier volumes.

Just for example: Philip Jose Farmer's Riverboat series is about a world where everyone who has ever lived is resurrected to live on this planet. In the first volume there are people from the future. But then in a later volume -- WARNING! minor spoiler -- he says that the world was destroyed before these people lived, and that anyone claiming to be from the future is really a spy from the people who set this whole thing up, and the way they recognize each other is by claiming to be from the future. Ok, fine. Except ... one of the main characters was from the future, so now he has to explain how he is NOT a spy. He tells us that the person calling himself by this name is really an imposter. But ... why would one of the spies impersonate this particular person? There's no apparent reason for it. He was just trying to patch up having changed his mind. (Also, the character appears to be a stand-in for the author. Like, the character's name in the book is Peter Jairus Frigate. Note the same initials as the author's name. And various other similarities. So apparently he didn't want to turn HIMSELF into one of the villains.)

I had a few other examples in mind but I won't take up space on them. Hopefully you get the idea.

So I'd say: Plan enough that you don't have to backtrack later. It isn't necessary to write a full plot synopsis for each book. Just make sure you know where you're going. In a one-volume story, if you change your mind, you can always go back and change something. That's the beauty of modern word processing. But in a multi-volume story, the first volume may already be published.


I would say that you should go ahead and start writing your first book BUT, as you go along in your first draft take notes for second and third volume. This can really help with creating fun mysteries/questions for the reader, too. Think about how certain things can be introduced and hinted at in the first volume, to then fully develop in the second or third. This is one of my favorite tactics in fantasy novels, and one, as a reader, I fall for every time. An intriguing world-building detail gets mentioned over and over again in book one, but never gets fully explained. Then, it becomes critical in book two. Then finally, it gets explained only in the final volume.

I also think if you have any character-driven stuff in your first book, you would almost have to finish that, to know where to take your character in the second volume and beyond?

Finally, if you’re itching to start already, I would say that it’s probably the right time to start. You can always return to research/plotting if you get stuck.


As someone with multiple trilogies and series in her head and partially outlined, my answer to your question would be a varied answer of "yes." Although your focus is on your book, I would advise you to note areas that will be impactful in future books, maybe by highlighting or putting an asterisk next to it in the outline. I would advise against extensive outlining of the second and third book until you have the first book done, but adding hints to future conflicts and something that doesn't deliver in the first book but is rooted in a future conflict.

For example, in an unpublished story I have outlined, I earmarked a conflict that has future implications that play out in the third book: an old woman lying to the main character about her relationship with her out of a desire to protect her from evil people wanting to exploit her power (she's the grandmother to the female MC, but the female MC doesn't know that thanks to an agreement between her adoptive grandfather and the old woman). But, I don't have the third book outlined yet.

I wouldn't go overboard with outlining the future books when your first book needs attention. Still, keep an eye out for future conflicts you can use in follow-up books.

I hope this helps!


Yes and no. I started writing a book and ended up with so many ideas it turned into a series. I am finding that I have written myself holes that I have to go back and fix later on but over all you don't have to plan it out first but you might write the first book and then plan the next two at the same time. It is up to you.

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