Tag Archives: writing practice

Why You Can Write Two Books at Once… If One Is In A Series


I began this post with the inclination that you shouldn’t write two books at once. Yet, the more I’ve researched the topic, the more I found that writing two books at once can actually be very beneficial.

I understood the cons of writing two books at once as this: if you’re working on two things at once, they’re bound to start looking like each other. It can create parallels in plot, and similarities in style and writing. Beyond this, each book teaches you something new for your craft; when you write two at once, it deprives one book of the lessons learned from writing the other.

But recently I’ve come across a few articles that argue that writing two – or more! – books at once can actually help your writing. Barry Lyga’s Rules of Writing Multiple Books at Once was especially neat. This is a gentleman who seems to write multiple books at once on a regular basis, and here are some gems of wisdom he offers to us all:

  1. When working on two books at once, the projects need to be vastly different from one another. Not only will this help the projects not resemble each other, but it also helps with burnout — if you’re not feeling up to writing one project one day, switch to the other!
  2. The projects should also be at different stages in the writing process. This is because of the same reason as right above — if you’re really struggling with one project, you can work on another that’s in another stage in the plot. This helps get you out of your head with one project and let you relax, all the while still being productive with another project.

He has other advice as well, more to do with writing in general (head over to his article if you’re interested!). But I thought the two points above were very interesting.

I had another thought strike me a few months ago, about this subject. I’ve been considering starting up writing another novel, in addition to writing the third in my current series. Except I was concerned that this would make the stories too similar to each other.

Then it hit me. That even if that does happen, it actually really works. Because in a series, the character’s are supposed to grow; if writing another novel shifts how the character (tone, etc) sounds — that’s what’s supposed to happen overall! It can be attributed to the natural progression of a series.

I mean, sure. Don’t let your stories sound exactly the same, in a series or not. But writing a series seems to naturally lend itself to writing other books.

“Tropes Outline”? – Look at this fun thing I’m doing

When I write, it tends to be pretty wild and unstructured. I get an idea in my head, accompanied by a really vivid scene or two, add in a cool concept I’ve been distilling – and I’m off. Creativity goes wild, accompanied by some restructuring and outlining as I move along.

(Until I hit about the 2/3 point, but we won’t talk about that.)

This is totally unlike my partner in crime. He starts almost completely from the point of view of theme and trope – meddling with concept and outline until he likes it – and isn’t driven by weird insanity-muse-moments. Our conversations get pretty interesting when it comes to writing. From my point of view, it’s pretty great to have someone who writes so differently; I can learn a lot.

The other evening, in between bellyaching rejections and new stories and how to improve myself as a writer and this new Novella idea I want to do for a competition coming up, I found myself given an assignment.

Now, we’ve been trying to give each other assignments for a few weeks now. Me, in an effort to get him to write more; him, in an effort to push my boundaries and improve. We haven’t quite pulled it off yet, what with the water line exploding somewhere on the property (cue lots of digging) and barn cleaning out and life. I know, excuses, excuses.

So, since I am such a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, my partner gave me a scary assignment for all pantsers: An Outline.

Not just any outline though. One that involves digging through tropes, and forming an outline based on themes, character archetypes, and overall concept.

And if you don’t know what a trope is, here are the basics: a common plot device. These often turn into cliches if they’re used enough. For example: The Epic Quest (see Lord of the Rings). The Dark Lord (Sauron from LOTR, and Voldemort from Harry Potter, etc). The Beauty and the Beast (it’s both a classic story and a trope).


A few Romance tropes

Those ones are pretty broad, but tropes can be both broad and specific. For example, in Revenge, we have: You Killed my Father (revenge on the person who killed the hero’s parent), Feuding Families (families trying to kill each other – see every mafia-related show ever), Gaia’s Revenge (The earth has enough of humanity and tries to kill us – see The Day After Tomorrow), and etc etc.

As my father likes to remind me, there is nothing new under the sun, in regards to tropes anyway. But it’s the combination of different tropes in new orders or with new twists that create something new and refreshing.

So my assignment is both an attempt to make me pay attention to tropes in fiction (you can’t break the rules until you know them!), and practice in knowing how to create a story with a focused, specific goal in mind.

At first I was like… yikes. But then I started googling my writer-butt off and found out that a) TV Tropes is my best friend, and b) this is actually a lot of fun. Thinking of how to combine things in different ways makes all sorts of story ideas.

So, I’m applying this assignment to a novella for a writing competition I’ve got my eye on. It’s a speculative-fiction contest, and I figure this is an excellent project to try this out: I’m looking to stay on the literary side of things, so this should help me stay on track on what I’m really saying.

I haven’t finished the assignment as this is the busy week from down under apparently. But I really want to am going to kick my butt into gear this weekend…

… somewhere around the several farm projects and my internship event.


Must. Schedule. Writing time. 

I’ll let you guys know how this whole trope outline goes. I’m rather excited to see how it turns out.

What about you all — have you ever written a “trope outline”? Have you engaged in traded assignments with friends and loved ones? Any advice on navigating busy weeks and writing time (isn’t that the real question, ha!)?