1. CleverBrunette
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    CleverBrunette New Member

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    Questions regarding the planning of a trilogy or series.

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by CleverBrunette, Jun 15, 2012.

    With some conflicting thoughts, I figured I'd ask for some advice, I have an idea for a novel and potentionally sequels which I am looking forward to developing. My issue is I am unsure if I should do all the planning first or just to dive in. Let me say that the outline for the first book is completed along with a little bit of the second book, however being I hadn't written anything out yet, I am wondering if I should dive in now and wait til afterward to plan the sequels or plan out the sequels in advance. I am aware that most wait til they have an agent however I was wondering if it would be better planning in advance. How do others writing a trilogy or series go about the planning stage? It will be helpful if you also outline, being it would give me better advice. Regardless, how do you suggest going through the process?
     
  2. growingpains
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    growingpains Member

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    As with anything, it's a good to have a general idea of what you're writing before you write it so you should probably know the ongoing plot throughout the series. You should have an idea of what brings the conflict through each book and what the resolution of that is going to be in the last book. Though, in my opinion, planning everything out isn't the best idea, but it's still good to know where you're going. I'd suggest outlining book by book - you finish writing one book, you start outlining the next - rather than outline all of them before writing.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Write AND PUBLISH your first novel before planning or writing a sequel.

    Publishers do not want a series from a new writer. It's too big a risk for them. It's a big enough risk taking a chance on a new writer already. They DO want to know you are working on other stories, but they DO NOT want to hear that you're launching a series with the book you submitted.

    Just plan your first book to be the best possible COMPLETE novel you can create.
     
  4. CleverBrunette
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    CleverBrunette New Member

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    Thank you for that information, Congito however it doesn't really answer the question I asked above being I am aware that publishers and such don't want the books immediately which wasn't what I was asking. My question regarded those who plan in advance, being I wasn't going to write the novel presently, just the outline, therefore I was curious if others who work on series and trilogies happen to write the outline in advance being I am aware that there are some authors such as J K Rowling who planned the books before writing them out therefore I was interested to know how those who did the planning how their process developed whether they simply waited before moving onto the outline after the novel was finished or if found it easier to do it before hand. Either way I wouldn't start the second book that quickly after the first book is completed, but if I did start the outline in advance I'd keep it handy, which was my main thoughts on seeing how others handled it within a series or trilogy in mind.

    Oh I agree with you, Growing Pains, my outline is basically notes one line about the general plot of each chapter, I try not to put too much details into them therefore I can be creative but enough so I have general direction to follow.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What I have seen, particularly among new writers, is an obsession to plant seeds for subsequent novels in the first novel. Doing so usually damages that first novel. They think they are being subtle, but they leave hanging threads all over the place that make their intent obvious.

    As long as you are looking ahead at those subsequent volumes, you are not putting your full focus on that first novel.

    No first time novelist should even be THINKING in terms of a series with their first novel.
     
  6. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    I too planned a trilogy for my first project. Getting published isn't really my goal, I just want the story out of my head and on paper for others to enjoy. Following Cogito's advice from one of my posts about my story, I switched to focusing on the first book. It's still a trilogy because the book would be 1000+ pages if it wasn't. But I found those threads that Cogito refered to we're all over my first story. In an effort to fix them, i decided to ignore the other two til it was finished. Another poster made a good suggestion too: if you have three books, fine; each book should be enjoyable by itself. It's own beginning and end without setting up for or finishing another books plot. Ideally you should be able to read book three and enjoy it without having story issues because you missed the first two.

    With all of that said, I didn't abandon my other two book ideas. I started a binder and in it I keep everything about the series. There are three dividers in it; one for each book. When I have ideas for the plot or for the storyline, I write them down and date the page before sticking it in the appropriate tab. As book one changes, some of these become obsolete and unusable, but I have them for when I get that far.

    It's kind of like the kid who cleans his room by putting everything in his closet until he has to have that one perfect toy. The binders my closet, ideas my toys and once their out of my mind I can go play with the other story and not worry about forgetting that killer plot point I had come up with before. This is how I'm addressing my trilogy and @ 80,000 words into book one it's worked great so far. I hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  7. Show
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    Sure as heck glad I was or I probably would've ruined my 4th novel (1st I am trying to sell). :) It's 100% standalone and if the rest of the series never gets published, there isn't a damn thing missing from this book. But if I hadn't been thinking about the possibility of a series, I'd have made a few stupid choices that probably would've made my book unsalable to all but the most masochistic readers.

    Look, I get the point about focusing on the first novel. I get the point about not trying to pitch a series with your first book. And I agree most people planning to write some big trilogy probably hurts their initial novel. (Especially since they might often be better off writing their entire story as 1 novel instead of trying to stretch it out into 3.) But there are exceptions. I don't believe that just THINKING about subsequent novels in a potential series is ALWAYS wrong when writing your first novel. It all depends on your frame of mind when writing. Next to nothing about this book sets up a series. Yet there were decisions I made thinking about that possibility that, even if I never did write another word about these characters, I am glad I made.

    My advice to the OP would be to write one story at a time and not to aim for a series at this point. Planning for a trilogy likely yields to a stretched story that might be better off written as one anyway. Focus on writing one before you plan a huge series. :)
     
  8. lex
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    lex Contributing Member

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    I'm not quite so sure that most wait until they have an agent, actually ...

    I've noticed, reading books like Carole Blake's "Form Pitch To Publication" and several others aimed at beginning writers, on both sides of the Atlantic, that one of the things they all seem to stress, at some length and in some detail, is that an agent (and of course a publisher) are taking on a writer, not just an initial completed manuscript. It's unlikely indeed, from a publisher's perspective, that a "first book" alone is going to justify the risk/reward ratio of publishing a new author. For this reason, a "two-book deal" (and, these days, increasingly, even a "three-book deal") are typically offered.

    Of course, that doesn't mean that the three planned/hoped-for books should necessarily or even preferably be a trilogy per se, and that's clearly a rarity, but agents go to some lengths to stress that they regard it as a major plus if an author, at the time of submission/querying the initial (completed) manuscript, is already working on a second book (and even planning a third one), and they say so openly.

    Some agents' websites also tell very much the same story.

    I'd suggest, therefore, that if planning sequels, it certainly isn't something to keep quiet about, when approaching agents, later. ;)
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    other books, yes... but just don't mention that they're sequels!
     
  10. CleverBrunette
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    CleverBrunette New Member

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    Thanks all for the advice,

    At this point I chose to take a combination of advice, while I did start writing over the weekend which honestly kept me distracted enough from not returning to post therefore I am concentrating on the novel, however at the same time, I am keeping ideas written down for the future novels (sequels.) I am not writing the outlines for them at point or do anything serious, if I can involve any of those ideas into the novel, I shall do so, however I shall refrain from writing the sequel til that time has come with an agent. I still desire for it to ultimately be a series, however I am not truly planning anything outside of the notes being I do want the novel that I am working on to stand on its own. That is where my focus is being placed right now.

    I appreciate all the advice, being this discussion has given me quite a bit to consider and think about when going into the novel.
     

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