Well, it seems I have a little problem...turns out that I've plotted out the opening novels of an epic series. My original plan was to write a pair of books and some novellas featuring the same protagonist, but last night, well...all the plots danced around my head until they resolved themselves into one long story. I wrote a new outline today, and it all shapes together nicely. So I guess I'm writing an epic sword & sorcery series now! Looking that what's selling on Amazon at the moment...that may be no bad thing.
This naturally changes my planning somewhat; I'll be starting this series, then switching over to Alamo, and alternating for a while...based on what people are enjoying reading! If people are reading the books, then I write more of them. It's really as simple as that – Stross's Law of not over-committing to series unless they are finding their audience.
Given that I am now writing a more complicated plot than I had originally thought, I find myself referring to an old, trusted friend – TSR's Complete Book of Villains. Really, this is one of those books that I can recommend as a general rule to anyone creating plots; because it breaks things down in a way I have not seen elsewhere. I'm going to focus on one of the most interesting parts of the books – matrix creation.
Yes, I know, sounds fascinating. But it really gets to the heart of a plot. The book outlines the creation of three matrices, each more involved than the last, each more intricate. The first is a space matrix, for the simplest sort of, well, campaign – but for the purposes of writing a novel, it still works just as well. This is simply eight locations, with distances between, and an order in which they must be reached – so for the simple 'assemble the Macguffin' stuff, it works tolerably well. The second adds the Time element – now there is a deadline, now things are moving about; this I admit is least useful for the purposes I am now putting it.
Where this book shines is the Power Matrix. Create a collection of people or groups, work out what each is looking for, then determine where they all stand in relation to each other. Associate them with locations or not, ally them, have them as blood enemies. New stuff today? Perhaps not. But when this book first came out, it was. Given that this book will probably be found on eBay for a few pounds/dollars, there's really no excuse not to pick it up.