I've been thinking about trilogies recently, since I'm in the throes (and I don't mean that lightly) of cleaning up my latest trilogy, The Outcast Chronicles, to send to my publishers. What started out as something that should only have taken me 6 months has grown until I've written another 400 pages of manuscript and I'm only halfway through cleaning up book two.
Don't get me wrong, I love writing. I love spending time in my book with my characters, but I feel like I'm undergoing the labours of Hercules. Will it never end? The books just keep growing. I want to be where Dave is in yesterday's post with a completed book, or in my case, trilogy.
It all started out innocently enough when I thought I needed to end book one in a different spot so that book two had a better beginning. This meant I had to enlarge on narrative thread to create a stronger subplot to give the first book a better resolution. Then, when I started cleaning up book two, the changes I'd made on book one necessitated a rewrite and tweaking of scenes in book two's opening. Every change you make has a roll on effect. And I'm sure book three is going to require a major rewrite. The characters have taken on a life of their own.
I have to keep a flow chart for the time line, another one for birthdays, feast days and special events. I have to remember who is related to who and how. I have to remember sayings and rites. The hardest part is remembering who knows what at each given moment in the story's time line.
I'm sure you have the same problems. I had a look around to see what advice was out there for writers of fantasy trilogies.
Here Jonathan Stroud talks about writing his Bartimaeus trilogy. (It took him 4 years and 3 drafts of each book). Here Holly Lisle talks about plotting trilogies. And here is an article by Vicki Hinz on how to approach a publisher with the proposal for the trilogy. While agent Kristin on Pub Rants has a different view. And here at Bookends Literary Agency, Jessica has her opinion.
Here is a transcript of a panel at the latest world con by fantasy writers on writing trilogies. (Trudi Canavan, Glenda Larke, Russel Kirkpatrick and Fiona McIntosh were on the panel). It is amazing the difference in time that writers take to complete books. The average is about a year. Fiona McIntosh says she can write a book in 16 weeks and I know Karen Miller can produce 3 fantasy books a year. (I don't know how they do it).
And here Juliet McKenna sums up trilogies, their history and why they exist in the publishing world. And I'm going to be very post modern and reference myself, Over at the ROR blog I ask, Does it have to be a Trilogy?
Which brings us back to trilogies. Readers love them because they get to visit old friends and take a holiday in a familiar world. Writers love them because they invest so much time and effort in building the world, it would be a shame not to explore it further. And publishers love them because the trilogy has a ready-made market of readers and the publisher can slot it into their publishing schedule.
How do you feel about trilogies?