Thursday, January 21, 2016

The trouble with writing trilogies

Or series at all for that matter :)

Last week, I got the edits for Future Found, the first book in the new gadda trilogy (sequel to my Dream of Asarlai trilogy). I'm not as advanced as I'd like to be because I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago and it's hampering my computer time. But on Tuesday I was powering through and I came to a realisation.

There was a lot of things I'd put into that first book that I'd completely forgotten about when writing the second.

Now, there is an easy way to solve the problem of forgetting things in the process of writing a series (which can take years) - that's to plan the entire thing out to start with. And I'm sure that there are smart people out there that do that sort of thing.

I'm not one of them. I do plan some books, and I have a general plan for the trilogy, but not a specific one. So I'd completely forgotten that the Sabhamir identified the three attackers in the first book, and then he spends the second book trying to figure out who they are. I'd completely forgotten that one of the secondary characters is sleeping with every woman he can to try and get her pregnant and if he succeeded that would impact the second book. I'd completely forgotten that I was setting one character up to be the baddie when in fact I didn't want him to be apparent as the baddie at that time.

Thankfully, I got the edits for the first book while I was finalising the second book and planning the third, so I can make the changes I need to. But sometimes, you don't get that luxury. Sometimes, the first book gets published, and then you're writing the second or third and you realise you can't do x or y because of what the readers already know.

Again, a problem solved if you planned the books.

One person that isn't planning his books is, of course, George R R Martin. In fact, he's on record as saying part of the reason the last book ran so late was because he hadn't planned and he'd written himself into some knots that took a lot of working to figure out.

Thankfully, a trilogy doesn't give you enough space to knot yourself up that much. But I do have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who forgot a character for the entire second book of the trilogy and then had to work out how the hell to explain what they'd been doing off-page all that time when they were needed in the third book.

So the moral is - plan your series.

Except I doubt I ever will. Much of the fun of writing is in exploring and wondering what will happen next. That thrill becomes all the greater when it's a story stretching over multiple volumes.

I guess I'm a sucker for punishment.

What are some of the worst mistakes you've seen writers make in a series?

Find out more about my gadda books (urban fantasy romance) at my website.

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