Writing a novel is difficult enough, but where do you even begin?

Autumn and Jesper share thoughts on this very topic in episode 68 of the Am Writing Fantasy podcast, together with some personal horror stories of what went wrong when they first started out writing.

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Read the full transcript below. (Please note that it's automatically generated and while the AI is super cool, it isn't perfect. There may be misspellings or incorrect words on occasion)."

Narrator (2s): 

You're listening to the amwritingfantasy podcast in today's publishing landscape, you can reach fans all over the world. Query letters are a thing of the past. You don't even need a literary agent. There is nothing standing in the way of making a living from writing join to best selling authors who have self published more than 20 books between them. Now onto the show with your hosts, Autumn Birt and Jesper Schmidt.

Jesper (30s): 

Hello. I am Jesper and I'm Autumn, this is episode 68 of the amwritingfantasy podcast and we decided to talk about how each of us prepare to write our next book. So this is more about uh, I guess sort of sharing our personal experiences and thoughts, processes rather than a how to episode.

Autumn (53s): 

Yeah. Not to mention the times we did it wrong and why we don't do it that way. You more I guess where we need to think about that too or, yeah, absolutely. There's a reason, especially after so many books and stuff, there's a reason we do things the way we do them now and not that they won't continue to change and grow, but we got here is for a reason and I think that's sort of the conversation itself.

Jesper (1m 19s): 

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So hopefully people will get a lot out of, uh, just hearing our experiences here and am how we screw things up too. Once in a while

Autumn (1m 30s): 

I thought there would be, it should be a few laughs in this one, hopefully. I hope so. Yeah. So how have you been autumn Oh good. I'm still still working on my little cabin and building and practicing safe distancing and a little bit of self isolation, but mostly be just because I'm a recluse and I really, I could have lived my life as a hermit. I think as long as I have a laptop and a good view and a nice place to go for a walk and probably a construction or a building project.

Um, even if it was rock cards, I think I could probably entertain myself forever. I've always said if you know, they need a volunteer to like go to Mars or something, I probably would be fine with minimal social contact and never just occasional internet, you know, talks home and I'm good. I am fine. So I'm just rolling with the punches and trying to take this weird world that we've found ourselves in and hoping that everyone else is doing well in staying mentally healthy Israel as well as physically healthy.

How are things over in Denmark?

Jesper (2m 37s): 

No, it's uh, well it's fine. As fine as things can get, I guess, you know, all the podcasts I listened to are talking about the Corona virus who really don't want to talk about it anymore. To be honest,

Autumn (2m 51s): 

that's what I use for the first week or two, I think I read like every BBC am news story that I could find it and I was obsessing about it. But now I go and I read any story that doesn't mention the Corona virus. I just read one about, uh, us multimillionaire who bought the first Bordeaux winery. The first, you know, non-French owner of a Bordeaux winery. That's what I went and read because yeah, I'd rather be reading about French.

Why that feels normal there.

Jesper (3m 27s): 

Indeed. But it does come with some, some good things. I mean am because I don't have to drive the kids to school everyday. Uh, you start to get more extra time on your hands, which is quite nice. So I've, I've spent some time thinking about how we could, uh, use artwork for a world of Elysium going forward. Um, so yeah, we, we, uh, well, of course you know that autumn we are in the process of trying to find a graphic artist who can do some am some workforce.

And I think it's, it's quite an interesting process, wouldn't you say?

Autumn (4m 3s): 

Yes, it is. It, it's, it's so much fun too. I mean, Whoa, we have to go and like scroll through dozens of artists and look at some amazing pictures and paintings that they've done. It's, it's horrible. So I had spent a lot of fun looking at others' ideas and worlds. It's, it's, you know, it's, again, this is why book covers are so important is it's distilling these all these ideas and putting it into one image and it's just fascinating and so inspiring to go and look at some of these really top notch artists.

Jesper (4m 35s): 

Yeah. And then there is of course differences in quality between a, and some of them are extremely good and some are like, okay. But yeah, but I think it's, it's also impressive all the different kind of styles that the artists are using because the more we look into this, the more you can sort of see, okay, this is, this looks really good, but it's not quite the style that we're looking for. So, so I think that makes it an interesting process that is not only about, you know, you can find a pretty good looking picture, but it's not quite in the style that you want it, even though there's nothing wrong aesthetically with the picture itself.

But it's just like, yeah, it's just in jail with, with the feeling that we want to get. Um, so I think that's quite interesting. Of course we were trying to find somebody who can do professional grade work. Um, um, we have, uh, quite a lot to that. We've gone through, I put out a few posts on Twitter, uh, asking for, you know, artists to send links to us, uh, with their portfolios if they were interesting, uh, interested in, in becoming one of our artists.

So I just want to mention now here in this episode. So we sold it, we don't add getting up a new slew of a portfolio sent to us that, that we've already received all the submissions that we need. So please don't stop sending us more. Uh, and we are basically going through each of these artists and we're shortlisting them now. So when you listen to this, uh, this is not a call for you to start sending us stuff, so please don't,

Autumn (6m 12s): 

we will let you know if something changes. But yes, right now we have plenty on our plates and we're going through quite a long different rounds of interviewing processes and finding out costs. And it'll take us a little bit of time to get to finally selecting the final one. But I can't wait. It's so much fun.

Jesper (6m 32s): 

Yeah. And the, and the, and because, yeah, as I've said, you know, we're with a bit more time on their hands. Uh, we started thinking about how can we put this to use, of course images we can use in the books. We can also use it on the website, which we haven't created yet. For fiction. But that'll come. That'll come. Um, and then also, you know, we could also be thinking about creating some sort of collector's edition books of our world, you know, filled with amazing colored artwork.

Um, that would be pretty cool.


Autumn (7m 4s): 

That would be, and I love, I mean, we, we just had that episode where we talked about publishing on Ingram sparks and hardcover. But I mean, there's a lot of people doing some launch packages that have like note cards and some swag and sometimes even like a whole fancy box. So there's a lot we can do with this artwork. Oh yeah. Yeah.


Jesper (7m 25s): 

So we could basically create sort of like a law book with images in it for the world of Alicia would be pretty cool. I've, honestly, I have no idea if anybody would be pretty cool to make.

Autumn (7m 37s): 

It would be really cool to make it if you really cool. Like I said that especially like once we have a trilogy or there actually we were planning six bucks once we have the whole kit caboodle or having like a really fancy package that you could buy that has some of the artwork and some of this and some of that. And then it just be a lot of fun. It'd be be the map. It'll be really exciting.

Jesper (7m 57s): 

Absolutely. And the like in episode 66, so that's a two episodes back. Uh, when I talked to Joanna Penn, uh, we also discussed like multiple streams of income for authors. So, so this is kind of the thing to think about, right? How can you put, for example, artwork into creating other streams of income, which, which prompted me to start thinking about something else as well. And uh, because uh, you know, well back in the day when, when I was still a young person or story time, uh, I love the am, I love to do miniature war gaming.

Back then, uh, and I also did some, I had some sort of a shorter revisit back to miniature war gaming, like I don't know, five, 10 years ago, maybe something like that. And then I haven't tested for a long while, but it's always been something my brother and I, we like to do that together. So it's something we wanted to go back to. But then with more time on my hand again here at these days, I started thinking about, yeah, but this kind of artwork that could come into play if we, if we actually created some, some sort of fantasy war gaming books relating to that and we can use the, you again, reuse some artwork there.

Yeah. So I'm thinking to get back into that happy again and try to create some sort of system agnostic rule books that everybody can use no matter what kind of war game that they play, but then they can set it in the world of Elysium. I think that would be so freaking cool. That does


Autumn (9m 31s): 

sounded really cool. So, yeah, there's a lot of, it's always anytime you can find a multiple use for one thing, it's probably a good thing to go. For

Jesper (9m 41s): 

yeah, absolutely. And it would, it would be another stream of income. And I'm really excited about this to be honest. Oh, week on the internet with the amwritingfantasy podcast so it was, it was quite funny actually. A, and probably most definitely completely by coincidence, but to keep it on topic about the artists, uh, Joe, Joe Malik posted in a picture in the amwritingfantasy Facebook group, uh, about, uh, an image of a woman shooting a boat.

Did you see that?

Autumn (10m 13s): 

I did. I was going to say, I just happened to still stumbled upon that earlier and I was like, Oh, you know, we're talking about art and that's the one of course a just popped into my head and it's one of the, one, it's awesome that, you know, people share, not just writing tips on the amwritingfantasy group, but that they're sharing this artwork. And he especially said am, you know, three guests as to what's wrong with the picture. So I like that cause he, his quote was like, do your homework. People don't accept sloppy research from your artists. So yeah, I agree. It didn't take me long to like notice what was there some really horrible stuff with this woman with the bow.

I don't know what happened there. I don't know either. You know, the image itself, at first glance you're like, Oh she looks rad and kick ass and it looks cool. It looks cool until you look at some of the details and you're like, is she just about to whack herself in the face if she actually pulls the quiver? And how was she holding? Is it through her arm anyway? So

Jesper (11m 15s): 

yeah, there was like a five different things. Um, so for the listener here, so, so the image is pretty cool. Uh, you know, this woman with a bow, she's sort of shooting out of the picture to what you as the viewer vented and it looks really cool. Yeah. But of course the various authors in the fantasy amwritingfantasy Facebook group work quite quickly to point out the errors. So just for the listener here. So first of all the quiver is in the front of the woman.

So basically it's obstructing her draw area which makes no um, and then the woman is also drawing the boat horizontal, which is not a good way of doing it. Yeah,

Autumn (12m 1s): 

no, your aim is so far off that way.

Jesper (12m 4s): 

Yeah. And then the arrow is actually resting on the bow a few inches above her hand and usually you would use your hand to help guide the arrow. So that's another slight mistake there. And then the bolstering is strong in such a way that it rests against the inner arm and behind the arm God. So basically if she was going to release that bolstering its just going to catch on the harm God. Yep. And then um, it also looks like the bolstering is actually behind the quiver.

So I guess it's be kind of get caught both in the armed guard and the quiver. That's like quite a lot of issues there.

Autumn (12m 44s): 

It is. I mean to be, especially the bow string and the quiver being in front of her entire, the string. I'm just like, really the quiver and the, it's, this is gonna be a total, she looks angry because man, she is in a bad position. That's how it should be. That's why. Yeah. Please can you shoot that? Yeah. But that's what's fun with the group. I mean they ask questions from, you know, pulling apart, you know, fantasy pictures to which, and making it a really good point that Hey, if you're going to go pay for a picture, make sure you're getting something that, you know, some reader is not going to sit there and laugh and laugh and laugh at.

But there's some great suggestions in there about, I noticed somebody was looking for a cross between a gr a dragon and a vampire and trying to come up with a name. Uh, yeah. So there's so much fun stuff going on in there.


Jesper (13m 35s): 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. I liked, I liked that one as well. And I also thank you, Joe for sharing that, uh, imaging in the Facebook group because I asked you just said to autumn I think there is a good point to be made there about the fact that you might be hiring an artist to do some work and like we just talked about, we have quite a lot of work that we're going to hire an artist to do, but at the end of the day, it is still, as the authors, it is still our responsibility to make sure that the outcome is what we needed to be.

So if the artist is making mistakes, it is at the end of this day is still your responsibility to check it and make sure that it's okay and there's no mistakes in it. Even though I fully get the argument about saying, well, the artists should do their homework and they shouldn't be. They should know what they're doing it for sure they should, but you're the one putting out the picture afterwards. So you need to quality check stuff.

Autumn (14m 29s): 

Definitely. Yeah. You know? Yeah. I think you should both be aware. I mean, even if you're writing the scene, hopefully you know, you should know how to actually hold a sword or hold a bow and arrow. And it's awesome if you get a chance. Of course right now with self isolation, you probably can't go take lessons on sword fighting or archery, but you know, you can watch YouTube and see how it gets to, how it's really done and uh, it'll help make your fighting and everything else that much more authentic, which is fantastic for your writing as well as your artwork

Jesper (15m 5s): 

So where do you want to start? Autumn how are we preparing to write our next book?

Autumn (15m 12s): 

I was gonna say, is that a pun? How are you going? Gonna start your, start your writing well, and it's funny cause I mean we can definitely, we're starting together, um, our own book, which is slightly different from, you know, even how, it's Laura, I think how you plot than how I would normally start off on a book. But I definitely am adapting some of the things we're doing. And I mean, let's say I, let's talk really quickly about how you started your first book and then we're going to see how we got to where we are.

I think that'd be really fun. And so, yeah.


Jesper (15m 46s): 

Yeah. And then afterwards we can also just touch slightly on fiction versus nonfiction because of how I prepare for those two things. Also slightly different.


Autumn (15m 54s): 

Yeah. You're much better at the nonfiction I being to write nonfiction, but without your help, I don't think I'd ever get there without my husband's help. He's also, we've, I've written nonfiction but only with someone else prodding me on. It's not nearly as much fun for me is fiction.

Jesper (16m 11s): 

No. Well, as long as you edit all my my mistakes, then I can write the content. Yeah, no. Yeah. But uh, yeah, starting out. So I think, I think I might have talked a bit about this on past episodes as well. Um, but when I first started out, I, I probably did what I think most people do in preparing to write the next book. So I just, I came up with something, I thought, well, this sounds like a cool story.

Let me write that. And then I just started writing and that was it. Uh, and I think that's probably what a lot of people do. I don't think so. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but, but it's just, at least I feel like when you're starting out, that's how you end up in the ditch pretty fast. And that's where I ended up as well.

Autumn (17m 0s): 

Yeah, I think am I do the same thing. I had a short story idea in my head about, um, a woman who had elemental magic and I didn't have anywhere I wanted to go with it. It just wasn't, I daydream a lot. And so it wasn't going anywhere in my day in my head. And then I happened upon a painting that was sort of Mediterranean and I thought, wow, I wonder what if she was in that world and an idea took off and yeah, I just started writing it and I think I was in chapter three when I realized I was totally lost and didn't know what it was.

Who was, it just had some gut instinct of they go here, here, and here. I had a world map because I love maps and I love drawling things, but I didn't know what they're gonna do and what was gonna happen. And even then, once I finished the book, I had to rewrite it. I to go back and develop characters. I had to go back and develop the world a lot more. I tore it apart, rewrote it three times. And even once it was published and I realized despite all of that, I really enjoyed it and I wanted to write a sequel and I hadn't even considered where this trilogy ended up going.

So I do things a lot different now.

Jesper (18m 10s): 

Yeah. Yeah. I haven't been of the same problem because first of all, I didn't quite understand how important the characters were. So, you know, I have the overall story. I have some, you know, some godson mind and I want this and that to happen. Uh, you know, they're very like big picture, like fantasy kind of thing. So I have that in mind, but I didn't quite understand how important the characters were. Um, so that, that was definitely missing. Uh, and then also, like you said, I didn't quite know where I wanted to end up with it.

So it was like I have this concept in mind and I just started writing rod really understanding where I was going. Uh, I especially remember the very first raft. I probably wrote like 15 different drafts, but uh, but the very first one I started writing, I thought this is really cool, so, and I will probably also like maybe three, four chapters in or something. Then the main character got hurt and then I was like, ah, how do I then deal with that? Then I came up with, but then they can just go over here and then there will be some healing over there.

And then I started going over there and then I thought, but something needs to happen. So then when they were there, I came up with these kind of a weird like that almost like spirits or something like tree elves or something else like in talking helps. But more like spirit kind of things. Then I thought, what do they then then they can come and do something and then I started writing chapter five with that. Now it's like, where is this going? You know, I've come completely lost her.

Then all of a sudden I have two spirits and what are they are they have no connection to the main story. I wanted to tell that all so it's just like, Oh my gosh. So I did that and then I started over again and I think, I think I did that trick like four or five times before I figured out that maybe I should do a bit of flooding.

Autumn (20m 8s): 

Florida you helps definitely. Yeah, it's a week. Yeah. We've both become plotters. I'm more of a hybrid than you are. I mean now that we're working on a book together, it is. It is not plotted. I've seen people who literally have plotted down to, I think you just need to add some paragraph breaks in some dialogue and it's pretty much done. So it's not quite that bad. It's at a different document and it's probably, I don't know. Some of them. I actually, I know because I copied out of Excel too cause I use a Mac.

So I was copping out of Excel because the shell cells were not working properly on my Mac and I would be putting into pages making edits and adding things and then posting it back into Excel before sending it back to you. So I know like the longest, um, area might've been 2000 words. So that's, that's almost as a for chapter that is almost a full chapter. But you know, on average they were maybe 800 words. So there are still a lot to hash out. But we definitely, we both do that and we have both been using the seven steps of story structure.

And I do know because we built this already together, that one of the things that I did without even intending to before I wrote my first book is I created a map and we both still create maps before we start writing. And I think to me, I just, the visualization of the world, I can't world build, and if I can't world build, I don't know the culture that these characters are from. So there's, I'm like missing half of what makes these characters unique and related only to this world in this story.

So to me, literally when I started novel especially a new world, the first thing I do is I draw a map.

Jesper (21m 56s): 

Okay. Yeah. Yeah. I have a few steps before I get that far, to be honest.

Autumn (22m 1s): 

There's a lot of thinking before you get that far and for sure I don't just sit down with a piece of paper and go, Oh, I'm making a world.

Jesper (22m 8s): 

Yeah. Well, it does come quite a, I saw some, I don't remember if it was on Twitter or if it was on Facebook, but I did see, eh, it's been within the last week. I saw some people debating, even if it was in our own Facebook group. I'm not sure, I can't remember where I saw it, but there was some people debating whether or not you were world-building before after you wrote the story. And, uh, and some people were saying, well, I don't understand why you would be well building before because you don't know what story you want to tell. Uh, and, and I think I, in some way I could say it, I, I land somewhere in the middle because the way that, uh, that I prepare for a new story is basically, I mean, of course step number one is basically brainstorming sort of the topics of the book.

What, what is it going to be about women? It's more like high, high level concepts. Like, okay, is it, is it going to be witches is a Dragon's isn't vampires? I don't, I'm just giving you some random things here. Right? But what is sort of the high level concept of it is, is it, is there like a global war going on? Are there guards mingling in the world or whatever it is, trying to come up with that first.

Autumn (23m 16s): 

Yeah. Sort of theme slash you know, they'll concept you're developing the concept and I think that's part of, yeah. Yeah, definitely.

Jesper (23m 26s): 

When I have that, then I usually try to think about, okay, how can we do that concept slightly different from what has been seen a million times before because of course a book about witches or book about dragons or vampires. It's just like, yeah, it's, it's been done over and over and over again. I don't, I don't want to do the same thing that has been a million times before, but at the same time I don't want to write something so strange and unique that readers have never seen it before because then it won't take either, so, so we need to sort of find just a new way of doing something that they are familiar with that.

That's that. At least that's what I'm aiming for.

Autumn (24m 4s): 

Yes. Oh yeah. I learned that one from my first one that you know, having a few elements that a reader can just accept you don't have to explain is really kind of nice. Starting off. I'm imagining that you're a Brandon Sanderson and it doesn't matter what you write and people are going to pick it up and read it. It's not as easy when you're not known. If people don't know how it is, it helps to know at least the flavor of the genre and, and know that, you know, you don't have to eat. It's easier to have dragons then to create some kind of really weird monster and never even mentioned a dragon.

Just just go with at least have at least one drag and everyone likes dragons.

Jesper (24m 41s): 

Yeah. Yeah. But, but I think also that, that's probably also where I sort of made a slight mistake with w with my first book, uh, or, or my first trilogy youth. It has, um, it has dragons in it, but those are probably some of the only true peace kind of things. Whereas a lot of the other creatures that are in that trilogy is some that I admitted myself. Um, which of course on one hand you could say that that makes it interesting, which of course I think it does, but at the same time it also makes it makes it a slightly harder sale.

Um, because that's something that most readers I used to write. Uh, if, if, if it was more like, OK, here's, here's Ellis and he, he had dwarfs and um, and then there was one creature here that you've never heard about before that that would be different. But this one is like, almost all the species are something I invented myself with, with their own name for the species that you've never heard about before and stuff like that. So, so some love that and some, some don't, but it, it just makes it a slightly harder sell.


Autumn (25m 53s): 

Yeah, I know. I, that's the mistake we both have in common. And I mean, I did the same thing. I have one dragon and besides, I have no nights, no castles, no effected. Most transportation is through sailboats. So I don't even think I mentioned horses. It was, yeah, every race there's no elves, no ogres, no doors, nothing. All the races are endemic to the world. I haven't made up my own fantasy language for the book. And you know, this was my debut novel.

I talk about biting off a lot and it does, you know, people do love that and it's done well, but it's also a lot harder to sell. I usually have to S you know, tell people, Hey, are you sick of the traditional fantasy tropes because this doesn't have anything in it like that. You're just, it's so different. That is, I think in the entire six books, there is one important sword that comes into play and what I added a few more dragons. So that's about it. Yeah, it is. It does make it difficult because there's nothing there for readers to relate to your entering a whole new world.

And that's definitely part of the world building stage that you've got to decide if you want to. We, we both have decided to maybe aim a little, I won't say lower, but a little closer to center.

Jesper (27m 11s): 

Yeah. And I, I can fully accept the fact that there will be those listening who would say, well, it's better to create something unique and interesting like that. And fair enough. Uh, I'm not gonna sit here and argue for against am. I'm just going to say that most readers are not looking for in my view. And you can disagree and that's okay. Um, but in my view, I don't think most readers are looking for a completely new experience that they've never seen before. They like to see stories that are unique in their own right, meaning that it's not like a story that you have read a million times before.

They do love that. They also love fancy readers. Also love work building. They love to see how you can create new like cultures and settings and all that stuff, but they don't necessarily want to recover from cover about all kinds of new things that you have to explain all the time. What the creature, what is this creature and how does it work? And it's great. But if it's just on and on and on about all kinds of new things, I think you're going to get be better off writing just put in your drops in UAL or something, you know, something that you don't have to explain.

And then in between you can sprinkle some new stuff. I mean we created some new stuff for, for our next series. You know, we have underwater dragons for example. I think pretty damn cool, but it's not something new in the sense that we have to start explaining a ton about what is the dragon. People know what a dragon is. These are just living on the water and stuff. So it's, it's, it's a different way of it. Our vampire is actually a dwarf, which is also new. Um, and he doesn't suck blood Ida. So those new elements in there, but, but it's, it's built upon building blocks that you are familiar with us.

So Rita and I think that is probably the better route to take. Again, you can disagree dear listener if you want. That's okay. But that's how I view it.

Autumn (29m 5s): 

Yeah. And those are the building blocks that, I mean these are the decisions that we're going to use these more typical things are built off of these more well known ideas and concepts. That's something we did before we started writing obviously because we haven't started writing the book yet. But even before we started really drafting out the plot. So that's why we're delving into why we chose this. And that's, is this something you do before you start writing? Even my most recent book, solo book, uh, that's something I was looking at beforehand as I was making those decisions.

Am I going to have elves or Fe or what concepts are there I want to use and how do I make them sort of knew with without going so far that they are brand spanking new you. I only have a couple of brand brand, brand new elements in each. Otherwise, you know what on my end is I'm using seven fantasy races and I'm using ones that people would recognize. Elves, gin, dwarves, giants, they're all their centers. Even. I've never done centaurs before. That was kind of fun to like get to throw those in.

But it was something that was had been there before, but there's reasons that they're different and unique to this world and whether it's the magic or other adaptations, you know, I am already, that's at this stage when I'm choosing what I want to use. What kind of characters, what kind of races? I'm already starting to think about the world that they're from and why they would be the way they are. And also thinking about the magic. To me, magic is one of those things where you want to do something new with magic.

But how magic is one of the most complicated things? I started to develop the rules, like at this point, how are, how is magic going to work so that I can start developing the tension and the hurdles are going to happen, the story and how am I going to solve them? Because it's, to me, it's not a fantasy story. If there's not any magic or dragons, the dragons before.

Jesper (31m 2s): 

Well, we don't actually have any dragons at this point in time in omic series. So that might be some, well, we have one note what targets? We're fine. Yeah. So maybe that counts. Um, yeah, so, but, but I, I agree in the sense for me as well, I think that the world building at this stage, you know, so, okay. I've brainstormed some sort of thematic or concepts for the book. We, at this point, we have also created a synopsis, uh, for our book. Um, we actually, we actually have an upcoming book on story ideas that we can release within the next couple of months, which will explain how at least we go about creating a synopsis, but that is extremely high level.

It might be five line of lines of text. That's yes. So, but at least then we know what it is. Um, and then we move into wealth building at that point in time. And to me, I think this is so incredibly important because again, people will have different opinions and that's okay. People have different processes. That's also OK. um, but the doing the world building at this point before we do any sort of plotting or outlining of, of what the story's gonna be about is so beneficial in my mind because as well as, as you've seen a autumn as you've gone through the outline says, I've been sending it to you, to you.

I mean, if we had not done the world building first, Oh, that would be so much, I would not have been able to. Now it's all of it is weaved into all of the chapters and I was only able to do that because we did all the well building upfront. No, I agree. I would have so many inputs, so many inputs that we would be missing there.

Autumn (32m 37s): 

Yeah, it's so much in depth and involved and unique because we did the world building first and I mean I saw that when I wrote my first one without having world build built very well is that that's half the reason I had to rewrite it because it was so boring and there was so much missed opportunities because I didn't know the world until I wrote the book the first time and that's why I had to rewrite the entire 105,000 words again because then I finally knew the world even though I had my map, but it made me realize how much more detail it has to be a living document that you create as you go.

And so that's why, you know, we've world built, we did do a map before we really got into some of the world building. And I think that's partially because having a map and suddenly looking at some of the things like where the deserts are and where the forest are and where there's oceans and where the landscape, then you can kind of, it helps you trigger some things that you might not think about otherwise because you're looking at the real mechanics and physical nature of a world and you know, well the creatures that within evolve there and the customs that would happen after a hundred years of living with a desert that kills you and things like that.

Jesper (33m 50s): 

Yeah. Yeah. That, that's pretty cool as well. I like that. I like our desert quite deadly.

Autumn (33m 56s): 

We were having a little bit too much fun. We're world building. Oh, I got a new one for you. Never go to our desert. If you could be transplant ported anywhere. Never go to our desert.

Jesper (34m 11s): 

Yeah. I don't care how much money you want. Yeah. But I actually, it's funny you said that, uh, around, around not doing world building for your first week because I actually had the opposite problem. Uh, yeah. Because, well, I love the world building stuff, right? And I love it too much. So when I, when I was doing my first book, I went all in on world building and I did at, um, and I thought, you know, S a reflection here later on. I think that helped in the sense that when we put our words building cost together, that was what was able to influence that we'll put in cost because it's like, okay, I think we need to understand what do you need to build and what don't you need to build?

Because when I did the first time around for my first two series, I built everything, everything I could think of was built and the, I have an insane amount of notes for the world. Uh, and I used like 10%.

Autumn (35m 3s): 

Oh, that's painful. But it's typical though. It is very typical. I think. I must've, I was so, I love writing. I think I was just so anxious to get to writing that you know, I, and I wrote it first, so I did minimal world-building and then I realized what you needed to do to world built at least quickly so I could fix it and put it back in my story. So I was, yeah, we're there. We're about the only thing I think we've ever found that we were opposite ends of the spectrum on.


Jesper (35m 32s): 

I think, honestly, I think I spent eight or nine month just world building that it was insane. I mean, and there was so much material. I mean, of course I knew every, every inch of that world in detailed when I started writing at the end of it. But it's like, but it wasn't, but again, when you're first starting out, know I, I w I don't know, but I wasn't thinking in the sense that, well, I'm probably not gonna use most of this. I didn't think about that. I just thought that the more I know the better because then I can explain it and I can sort of make it part of the story, which is true enough.

But what do you then figure out once you start writing is like you only need the tip of the iceberg, all of this stuff. Uh, it's, it's good to understand the other, some of the other elements I should correct myself by saying, you know, it's good to understand a bit more in depth because that actually bleeds through into the story even though you don't have to explain it, but you don't need to understand all the way down to the bottom of the sea too much.


Autumn (36m 33s): 

I always figure you need to know something pretty detailed about where each of your main characters are from. And you should know some pretty pretty good details, you know, a little bit below surface level. Scratch the surface on any place your characters go. And other than that, you need about three general knowledges about anything else in the world that exists that you're not actually going to go physically see. And then you're pretty much good. You can go right. So that was always my kind of quick world-building. If you really want to get to writing, at least do that much.


Jesper (37m 6s): 

Yeah. Well, of course. Uh, the world building costs, which again, it will be really a later this year. Hopefully it'll be out. I know we talked about for a long time, but uh, but, but that will actually lay out step by step exactly what you need to do and what you don't need to do. Analysts will talk you through how to do each of the steps is always, I think it's going to be insanely beneficial. And that was actually, we followed the exact steps that we put into that course ourselves for when we build the, well the volition and, but I guess I cannot quite say how long it actually took to go through the building of the world of Elysium because we were creating the cost at the same time.

So obviously it took a lot more time because we had to explain everything and how we did and why we did it as well. So I don't, if you're just going in, you just following the teachings of the modules and you're doing the world building, I do have a sort of gut feeling about how long would it take autumn do too. I, I'm not quite sure to be honest.

Autumn (38m 5s): 

I think you, if you are determined and you want to get through it, you could do it within a month. But I think if you know, you have a, if you're not self, if you're doing, if you're self quarantine anything at the moment, Oh, you know, you can get this done in like three weeks. But I think, uh, otherwise, you know, two months might be reasonable and maybe a little bit. Yeah.

Jesper (38m 24s): 

I, I don't, I, I think it probably depends on how much time you're putting. I mean, if you're doing full time, you could probably do the world building in a week or something, but you're doing like one hour here, one hour there, then yeah, maybe a month or something to go through the modules. Uh, but yeah, concentrated focus. Yeah. A week. And you probably have the world, all those stuff you need for your world and compared to the nine month.

Autumn (38m 49s): 

But I think that's pretty good. That pretty good, I have to say. And I think I even did longer the first time. But again, the you the first time, you're really just figuring this stuff out. I have to say that you spent all this time building the world. I am so surprised you've only written one trilogy. I figured, I wrote, I created this world. I know it. And I know the character so well that I ended up with six bucks. So there's still sometimes play around with another three. So yeah. You know, we want to develop a world that to me is the benefit is you can just write some books in that world.

And so it's worth putting in the time and developing some stuff. But anyway. Okay, so we've done some building. I agree. But just one more point on that because you just triggered a thought. Oh no,

Jesper (39m 33s): 

no, no. But, but no, it was not, nothing bad, but it was more to say, actually I did not go back and write more books in that world because I was, I felt like I can do something better. I think that's what I felt when you're first starting out. You know, sometimes it's like, eh, I just, once I was done with the trilogy, I liked that trilogy. It was sort of the story I wanted to tell. But at the end of it I felt like I don't want to tell more in this world, even though I know I'm way I wasted a ton of effort and time.

But at the same time I think I took a lot away from it. Um, and of course with the world of volition that we built, now we have, have on purpose build it quite large and expanding so that we can write a ton of things in it. We can also write very different stories in that world. Just taking place in different parts of the worlds. Even have like a interconnected different worlds through a center, which I'm not going to go into all the details here. I guess we can save that for Rita's, but, but there is a lot of different worlds connected inside the world of volition, so to speak.

So it gives us lots of playgrounds and, and um, that's on purpose because the idea for us going forward is that all our books will be set in Elysium. Um, so, so we did the world building once now and we can write a ton of books. We can write 30 books in this world if we want. Oh, no problem. Yeah. Um, so, so there is like an ongoing benefit of it, but at the same time, of course, if you are starting out, I don't know, you might end up in a place where I did, where it feels like, eh, I don't want to go any further with this.

So, so unless you sort of know what you want to do, it might not be a bad thing to just create a smaller world and just write a trilogy and just feel it out.

Autumn (41m 21s): 

Yeah, I do for first start, that's not a bad concept is just start with something small, compact. You can have edges to your map and not worry well what's on the other side and just develop that so you can get to writing. Yeah, yeah. But anyway, so yeah, I interrupted you before. Oh, that's all right. I was just thinking before we, I mean, I can't believe how we were worried we wouldn't make it to a normal time with this one. And we're already like pushing the end and we are only, we haven't even gotten to writing. So after world-building, uh, that's when I think we really developed, you know, our characters more and start doing some character arcs and getting those nuances and after that, the seven steps of story structure.

So we, we really know where our hurdles in laws and what's going to happen and then we can hopefully, yeah,

Jesper (42m 9s): 

yeah. Then it's a full outline. And then after that, uh, I put some new batteries in my dictation recorder and then we're good to go. Excellent.

Autumn (42m 16s): 

So yeah, I just wanted to make sure that we got through all of the steps, but we actually world bill before we do our characters because without knowing, you know, what kind of races and stuff that they're from, we don't know. Some other nuances you could, you could be setting your character up for something totally the wrong type of character for that culture or missing half of what's important about that culture and a lot of tension and really excited things that you only know once you actually develop your world.

Jesper (42m 45s): 

Yeah, I fully understand the respect, respected those counter arguments to that, but at least that's how we see it. I mean I could not create either characters or already outlined without doing the world building for us. I just don't see how you do it later. Uh, not, not if you want a very immersive world. I mean I understand if you're writing urban fantasy or something and there was only a few sort of world building elements that you need to put into a real w real world, you know, modern setting, then I guess I can see how you could do it on the fly a bit here, a bit there and sort of, okay.

There was, there's this one part that is fantastical so I'll just develop that as I get to it. I guess I can understand that, but I still feel like doing the wealth building up front makes a massive difference in the output afterwards. But, but that's, that's how we view it. And it's okay that some people will disagree. Yeah.

Autumn (43m 38s): 

Yeah. So long as we agree with each other since we're writing a book together, that's a good point. But yeah, I mean, since I've written in urban fantasy, um, you know, something that's set in basically modern times, not this modern, I'm not sure if I'm going to add a pandemic to my story yet, but you know, it's just about now, a few years before hopefully. And um, yeah, I didn't have to do much world building, but I had to think about some concepts, some faith things and some historical stuff and throw those kinds of things in. But for that one, I kind of already knew a lot about the characters, but I had to think again how to make it unique.

You still do those concepts in those twists of, okay, I want to write this type of story, but how can I make it mine? Even though it says in this world and it's in the urban fantasy genre, I want to make it, I call it a Fe post-apocalyptic novels, so it's, it's related but it's also uniquely mine. You pick it up and gotta have to learn a few things like how magic works, works and what's happening in the world. Those are important things to make sure you know before you delve into the writing and before I delved into the really developing the characters and figuring out the rest of the plot, which evil when I'm on my own, it might not be as in depth as when we're together, but I still run through the seven steps of story structure.

I have outlined the entire trilogy. They'll actually, for this one, it's a series. I know exactly where all the books are, at least going for at least, you know, a paragraph to two to a full page about each of the seven steps so that I know really what's going to happen before I really sit down and start writing and going for it

Jesper (45m 14s): 

and all this stuff. About seven steps of story structure. Dear listener, I mean w we're going to release a book, uh, in a, in the next month, year, hopefully before supper. And where we, we explain our step by step guide on how we go about outlining. So you can pick that up once we get that far. But there is also a video on the amwritingfantasy YouTube channel about seven steps, so you can go and look that up in the meantime and maybe like in a, in a quick summary,


Autumn (45m 42s): 

sorry. Yeah, maybe we'll eventually do a more in depth podcast on it, but for now

Jesper (45m 47s): 

there's a YouTube video. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Uh, I promise to just touch upon nonfiction as well. So it's write I'll just do that before we close out. Um, really quickly here. So when I'm going about preparing to write a new nonfiction book, one of the first things I do is actually to read a lot of books on the topic that I want to cover. Um, and why I do that is, is basically because a lot of the time I have my thoughts on what I want to say.

Uh, and it's not that, that those thoughts at all is going to change and that's not why I'm reading the books, but it's more like those are the authors who wrote books on the same topic often cover the same topic from different angles. So basically what I'm getting out of reading them is my like, ah, okay. Yeah, I haven't thought about this from this point of view or, um, and that just allows me to, when I then sit down to two write, um, I, I sort of know, okay, these are the things that I should probably think about tackling this book, right?

Because otherwise it might be very one dimensional because it's just the way I view it. Whereas if I read a lot of books on the topic, also often end up watching a lot of YouTube videos that tackles that the subject matter that I'm going just to get other perspectives about what are other people's angles onto subject matter. It's not so much about their opinions, but it's more like what are the angles that they're going to tackle this subject? You know where they're coming from so that I can build in those nuances.

Autumn (47m 25s): 

Yeah. And not only just reading those other books, but I'm reading the comments and the reviews about those other books and YouTube channels, because then you see what character, what readers, like what they got out of it, and also where baby they like, Hey, you never said about this, this, and you're like, Oh, I should mention that then because it held, it gives you ideas of topics to put into your nonfiction. Yeah.

Jesper (47m 47s): 

So basically that's what I do first. All right. So I collect all my inputs there and I write up my notes and uh, I put, I usually put the notes into chapters and sub-chapters then where they belong. And once I have that, then it's a pretty messy document, but it's divided into, uh, it's divided into the areas where I want things, so I know where they belong. And then I'll, I'll basically just start writing and that, that's it for nonfiction. So it sounds simple, but it's a lot of work. I can promise you.

Autumn (48m 17s): 

And that's probably why I have yet to do one solo. Maybe one of these days.

Jesper (48m 22s): 

Yeah, maybe. Who knows? You don't have to. Yeah, so I think there is a lot of ways people can prepare for the next writing project, but I guess I w I would actually be quite curious to hear other people how they go about this. So if, if you know, if, if you dear listener could leave a comment on this episode or on YouTube if you're listening to the podcast from there or even in the amwritingfantasy Facebook group, I think that would be, I would love to hear other people's comments on how do they prepare for the next to write the next book.

That sounds good.

Jesper (49m 2s): 

So next Monday, Autumn and I will share some personal details as we discussed each of our journeys as writers, good and bad.

Narrator (49m 13s): 

if you like what you just heard, there's a few things you can do to support the amwritingfantasy podcast. Please tell a fellow author about the show and visit us at Apple podcast and leave a rating and review. You can also join autumn and Yesper on patrion.com/amwritingfantasy for as little as a dollar a month. You'll get awesome rewards and keep the amwritingfantasy podcast going. Stay safe out there and see you next time.

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