Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Series Plotting

The Persephone Alcmedi series has six books so far. It was not planned at the outset.
In fact, I wrote up this awesome Johnny guy…6’2” leather wearin’ tattooed and pierced rock n roll bad boy while at the airport in New Orleans waiting for my flight home. Then I had that shrimp po’boy and tried to figure out who his ideal woman would be, yanno, since he couldn’t have me.

Persephone hit the page, took over, and never thought twice about it.

By book five, I was able to start telling his story from his POV. He’d been very patient.
And no, I don't recommend po'boys as a plotting mechanism.

Lemme back up...and address the topic a bit clearer.

When the contract came for VICIOUS CIRCLE, it was for a three book deal. Color me surprised. No agent, no warning, fairy godmother smacked me upside the head with a dream come true. (Thank you thank you thank you.) I’d of course tossed some ideas around in my head, daring to think about it but not really committing to it. Afraid to jinx it and all…
And then I had to come up with two more novel ideas, and tell the publishers about them.

Let me share a secret here. I can’t do short stories. Really. I envy those who can conceive an idea and work it open to close, concisely, done, a short story. When I try, I get lost in details and other ideas and poof, a novel. It gets deeper and longer and I don’t know how to stop. Beginnings, middles, and ends take time. Time to explore and discover. And I LOVE that discovery.

So to have someone tell me to figure out two more whole books at once?

Gasoline on my fire.

Seph accomplishes this, then that, then that, and then THAT! But how? Oh, she has to do this and this. Then that and that. Ideas have no trouble finding me. How can I make that harder to achieve? Who can stand in her way? What does it cost her? him? them? How do I make all that matter more?

If you write, you totally get that I’m sure.
Guess what? I plotted eight. Loosely, but eight.

And then I sat down to write.

Book two, Hallowed Circle, was not part of the intended arc. AT ALL.

Creative juice? I’ll have a double, thanks. And shake that bitch up.

So I want to write nine.  O.o

—Insert industry going fickle on me—

—Insert desire to show I can write more than urban fantasy—

—Insert the reworking of an old sword and sorcery fantasy— 
I’m nearly done with it now…but I’m pushing 150,ooo words.
At what point is an intervention necessary? 
(And I'll get back to Seph & Co. soon!)
I'm hardwired to plot big, to plot series with the overarching plot, and the novel to novel steps that get you there. I ask questions. And keep asking. What if? How? Now who's going to stand in the way? Why? Who's going to help? Who wants to help but can't? What are the outside forces beyond all control doing? Who represents that? What little things can mimic all this stuff? (Like a dying houseplant or a leaky faucet?) What outsider looking in can say something that throws the opposite emotion into play for the main character? Would that have a good effect?

I'm like an annoyingly curious and relentless child, so my advice is: Question everything. The answers will become your story.

1 comment:

  1. Well, praise be! Another writer who can't do "short." I figure I spend all that effort creating the world, I can't possibly leave it too soon. There's a three-book minimum!