Sometimes, you want to create a large project that’s made up of smaller projects. Maybe you’re planning an anthology of short stories or poetry. Maybe you’re planning a game with episodes. Maybe you’re taking on a research project where smaller pockets of research will be needed to gain a picture of the whole situation.
Whatever you’re planning, you’re going to have some sort of “glue” to hold it all together. This is where it’s helpful to think of the PLE as overarching. This is also where it can get a bit confusing because of how the smaller projects’ PLEs nest inside the large PLE. For my short story anthology of fairy tale adaptations, I view the overarching PLE as the spine for the project.
The process for developing this PLE-as-spine is the same as it is when you’re developing your PLE for a single project. You start by looking for a single question, topic, or problem you want to approach, only this time it has to be something that breaks up into smaller projects. In my case, I wanted to write fairy tale adaptations in my storyworld, so I had this topic. As I have continued to work on the project, I’ve had to ask myself if each project step that I have planned will fit within that topic, and it’s forced me to really think about what I want to explore in terms of retelling these classic stories. (It’s been interesting, and I can only hope the real project lives up to the one my giddy imagination is projecting.)
Part of the problem with my project is that there are countless stories that can be adapted into my storyworld, and I’m still finding stories I’d like to play with. So I’m facing a large project with no clear end in sight. A bit terrifying, but livable. In a situation like this, it’s important to make sure the Discovery process has left the overarching project with a clear focus that can help keep the open-ended project on track until it finally finds its end.
Many projects, though, will have a clear ending point, and won’t be subjected to such a rigorous re-examination of the overarching focus. And even if you can’t, the next two phases of the PLE can do a lot to help you focus a project.