How to Keep Track of Multiple WIPs - Part 3

8:07 PM

Hello everyone!

As promised, the third and final part of my blog series.....and it didn't take me a month to finish it!

What do you know, there is hope for me yet!

 Last post, I rambled about how building specific aesthetics (such as Pinterest boards and music playlists) helps differentiate stories and aid mind refreshment after a long absence.

 I also introduced my second big idea in this series, which is.....

Develop WIPs by Custom-Tailored Aesthetics, Themes and Characters

 This post, I want to tackle the second half of my "big idea" above, which is.....

Find out what stands out in your character or theme

It is true that uniqueness sticks out to us. And, quite often, it is the little things that do the most "sticking out".

And what sticks out to readers??

Characters and themes!

So let us begin, shall we?


A classic way that WIPs get mixed up with each other is having cookie-cutter characters, or repeats of a character/archtype. For example, having all the protagonists being based on the author's looks/temperament.

Having your characters (especially MCs!) look different and think differently from each other will help keep your stories straight - as they are written from a different POV. 

But what happens if you are going along and you DO notice that your characters across different WIPs all of a sudden start sounding like they are all the same?

Focus on highlighting specific quirks or faults - and the intensity of different traits in the same temperament.

For example: in terms of physical looks and temperament, three of my MCs from different WIPs are very similar...Gail (From the Cave), Ciara (Fair Winds), and Eirwen (Seeds of an Orchard Invisible). (oh yes, I am sooooo guilty of copying off of myself...)

After exploring their main temperament (which for anyone who is curious is Melancholy/Choleric), I identified some specific traits in that temperament that would be relevant to the plot in any way. Then I muddled around for a while to see if that trait is a big thing or small thing that influences the plot, or influences the character. Since every plot and character is different, this will be a different answer for each character.

For example, Eirwen is best defined by her struggle with her warrior-like temper - she wants to fight all the time. Both Ciara and Gail also have a warrior/fighting spirit, but it comes out in different ways. Ciara's warrior spirit comes out in protecting her younger sister or herself. Gail's warrior spirit comes out when a larger body, or an abstract value is attacked.

In a sense, it's like when you meet other people that are of similar temperament to you, but they have their own quirks that differentiate them from you. That's what you want to aim for.


It can be very easy to mix up WIPs if they follow the same story structure, or themes. For example, having two novel WIPs that are centered around a similar theme can result in one novel playing copycat from the other.

So I have what I call "big themes" and "little themes".

Big themes are often shared between WIPs. These are the general, overarching questions that somehow get answered in the book. For example, the question of "what is feminine?" is prevalent in The White Rose, From the Cave, Fair Winds, and Seeds of an Orchard Invisible.

Little themes, or the more specific themes, are only used for one story. These can be narrowed versions of the larger theme, or they can also be "quirks" or "unique items" that make the story stand out. For example, meek vs. anger in SOI, Shield-Maidens in From the Cave, etc.

So when I'm roaming around the Internet, if I happen to run across, say, a podcast about female pirates...I know to stick that in my Fair Winds stuff. Because no other story I have has female pirates in it. Or if I find an image on Pinterest that has a proverb about silence that my character later learns through experience, I stick it in that relevant WIP's board.

So, to wrap up this crazy series, once and for all.....

1. Have a system of organization

2. Get to know/Develop your WIPs as much as possible.
         2a. Instead of using general playlists/aesthetics, tailor everything to the WIP itself.
         2b. Find out what stands out about this WIP, that will help you remember the details.

And so ends my crazy attempt at explaining on how I keep track of multiple WIPs! I really hope that this helped you guys! I dearly hope that I can get back into the swing of things soon - especially in commenting on y'all's blogs! I shall be back soon - there are some linkups that I've been DYING to get to!! 

Scribbingly yours,

Catherine <3

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  1. This is really cool! I'm sorry I missed the rest of the series (life, ya know), but I really loved these points, especially the one about the themes. I know there are a few big things that I have throughout all of my stories (redemption, life's purpose), but there are little things that I keep for the individual stories. Definitely helps me keep them straight!

  2. Woah, I never thought of it that way before! But that is true . . . it is one way I keep stories straight.

    Loved this series, Catherine!

  3. This is amazing advice, Catherine. :)

  4. Ooh, I like the idea of big themes vs. small themes. And of course, keeping track of characters is a difficult must!

  5. Fantastic advice. Loved this series, Catherine! :)

  6. This series was a TON of help Catherine!!! Thanks for sharing!!! <3


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