How to Juggle (Writer's Edition)
So you're zipping along, happily writing the umpteenth chapter of your latest fanfiction, when you decide to take a little break. You pick up your favorite game/book/anime/whatever and instantly immerse yourself in a world all your own. Then, before you know what's happening, bam! It's happened again. Another story has started to weave itself in your mind.
What to do, what to do? You don't want to drop your current fanfiction and let down your readers, and besides, you really want to see it through to the end. But this new story just won't back down! Soon you find yourself thinking about it in the shower, imagining the characters when you're eating dinner, even dreaming about it at night. Even worse, every time you sit down to work on your old fic, the new one barges in and takes over.
So how do you juggle multiple stories? This was a problem I faced practically from the start when I first began writing fanfiction four years ago. I mainly write video game fics, and since I play many different video games, it took no time at all for me to be swamped with ideas for fictions. I've now completed several fics, including three previous Wattpad Featured Fanfictions. However, I believe I've also achieved what I like to call "PABLE": Plots Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy. And more just keep on piling up!
It can get confusing to the point of frustration to try to keep even just two or three stories straight in your head, and even more so if they're in the same fandom. But there are some tips and tricks to help you manage multiple storylines and still hang on to your sanity.
First of all, take a short break from your current project. Just a few days, maybe even a week, should be enough time. Allow yourself to become immersed in your new world, and explore the possibilities for your plot in your mind.
During this creative time, I will set up a secret board on Pinterest and label it with the working title of the new story. A working title is only meant to identify it, so you know which story is which. Don't worry about the final title at this point, though if one comes to you, feel free to go with it instead. For example, if I were to write a story set in the world of, say Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, I might use a working title of PM US/UM.
Once I have created the board, I begin to pin images of people that remind me of my versions of the characters involved. I make a note as to the character's name and any other important information when I pin it. I also pin images for any places, animals, or objects that I want to capture. I do this so that when I return to this story later, I have visual reminders of what I was thinking when the idea originally occurred to me and so that I can remain consistent in my descriptions throughout my stories. Believe me, it's a big help when you're returning to an idea you had months ago.
I'll also usually create the cover I'll use on Wattpad at this time. I create all of my own covers, using photos available under Creative Commons with modifications permitted. I crop them and make any other alterations needed, save a background image, then if I have a title, add the text for the final cover. This step is not necessary, however, I find that it can help me remember the general mood of the story as it originally came to me.
After I've completed the Pinterest board and I'm satisfied with all the images and notes on it, then I type out whatever I've got in my head in a document saved with the same file name as my Pinterest board (or close to it). I keep all of these documents in a folder labeled fiction on my laptop, so they're easy for me to find. The document for a potential fic usually includes a plot summary or at least a brief description, and may include snippets of conversation I've thought out in my head, descriptions of events, or even one or more whole chapters. Whatever you have, put it down. It does not need to be perfect! You're simply making detailed notes at this point. The more you have written down, the easier it will be to pick it up again later on.
It is possible to continue writing your current fic while sketching out your new idea, but I've found that really is only practicable when you're writing in different fandoms. If you are writing one fic while attempting to plot out another all in the same fandom, they tend to blur the lines and blend together. Before you know it, you'll be all in a muddle, trying to keep the two straight. The simplest thing really is to just take a short break from your current story until you've got the basic ideas set down for your new story.
This method is what I've found works best for me. I've just taken a look in my fiction folder, and I have notes for over two dozen fanfictions in there, as well as notes for around a half dozen original fictions. These are in addition to the eight fics and one collection of short fics I've completed and posted here on Wattpad, plus the fic I'm currently updating. That's a lot to keep straight! If I had to do all that in my head, I'd be lost. But now when I pick out any one of my plots, the notes I've taken combined with the images I've pinned put me right back where I left off. All the same, what works for one person may not work for another. If my method doesn't work for you, don't be afraid to try other organizational techniques until you find one that does. And most importantly, keep on writing!
Do you like/can write multiple fanfictions at the same time?
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