1. United
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    United Member

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    Plan first, or focus on piece at a time?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by United, Nov 10, 2014.

    I know that my first piece that I'm working on will be the first of a trilogy. I'm just not sure if I should plan the next two books before I publish it, or if I should just publish it when I'm done and then focus on the next book, publish that one, then start planning the last book; focus on each book one at a time. I know conceptually what is going to happen by the end of the third book, and I've pretty much planned out my first book (still in the process of writing). The second book, I figured, I could just brainstorm plot details after I publish my first work. Do you guys do that? Or do you scrupulously plan every detail (or maybe even a rough outline) of the wholes series first, and then start writing book #1. Because as of right now, I only know for sure about what will happen in my first book.
     
  2. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    I think you need to have planned well enough to have low risk of later saying "Oh, how I wish I'd changed this or that minor thing in the first book to make it dovetail with the later books."

    BTW, when you go to peddle your first book to agents or publishers, do not mention the word trilogy. The first book has to sell itself before anybody wants to hear about another related one. And they will be afraid the first story doesn't stand on its own without the others.
     
  3. United
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    United Member

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    I know the first book has to stand on its own, but in my case, my first work is about a 'hero's journey'. I wouldn't be able to tell the story in 300-400 pages. Basically like a LOTR trilogy (the basic outline). By the end of my first book, my main character hasn't completed the hero's journey yet, so I know I have to leave the ending a little ambiguous and incomplete to some extent. Actually, that will be my biggest hurdle with my first book. I wouldn't know exactly how to 'end' it because I know for a fact that the story continues. I'm not sure if I should leave it on a cliffhanger (not sure if that's good or bad...).
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    A punchy first page/paragraph will hook the customer into buying/reading your book. A satisfying ending is what will get them buying your next book. You might get away with a cliffhanger once you're established enough that the customer knows that the next one will be out in a year's time, but why would the publisher take a chance that you can deliver that based on your first MS?
     
  5. Revilo87
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    It doesn't matter how the book ends, b/c we know the quest is going to continue. For instance let's say you're writing about a man long ago in a far off land, leading a rebellion against a tyrannical king. Since you're writing a trilogy you wouldn't even have your hero face the king in the first book.

    Instead have the primary antagonist of the first book be one of the king's favored generals, maybe even one of his own sons. The first book could then end with a victorious battle against the general so that the reader will feel like the hero is getting somewhere, and give the first book a sense of conclusion. The reader will know that the story isn't over yet b/c the hero hasn't faced the king yet and will want to come back for part 2 whenever it is released.

    If you want to make it a cliffhanger ending, still have our hero win his victory, but have our hero learn something devastating during the celebratory feast later that night. Maybe the king had his family killed, or maybe another group of the Kings soldier have arrived and surrounded them
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or maybe he gets told who his father really is...?
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I sometimes think the biggest disservice Tolkien ever did to novice writers was LOTR.

    The following advice is offered on the assumption that your goal is to be traditionally published:

    1. Understand that there is a lot of truth in the old saying, "the first million words are practice". Writing is a craft that takes many years to hone.
    2. Publishers do not like and will not invest in multi-volume works by unknown writers. You're best approach is to write a single-volume novel that stands on its own - do not "leave out some good stuff" for future volumes, because your sole objective at this point should making sure that Volume One (if you must think of it that way) is the very best that it can be so that it has a chance of being published.
    3. Plan (to whatever extent fits your comfort level) one book at a time, just like you write 'em.
    4. Start thinking of length in terms of word count, not page count. 80,000 - 100,000 is considered prime size for a first novel (genre-contingent).

    Good luck.
     
  8. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    I am planning out a series and although I have outlines the entire series, it is far from fully fleshed out. I think if you wait until an entire series is fully planned out, you may never reach the writing phase. So, I have decided to move forward with writing. New insights will come to me as I'm writing that will allow me to flesh out the outline along the way.
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am by no means an expert but I think the issue is how dependant they are on eachother. Does book 2 and 3 resolve things book one won't? Because once you ideas are interlinked that highly publishing one locks you into ideas that may not work well with what you want in book two or three. But if they are more independant and just related to eachother by being within the same universe than I think you shouldn't have much of an issue.
     

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