1. Freshpage

    Freshpage Member

    Aug 24, 2020
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    Trilogy thoughts & questions

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Freshpage, Sep 1, 2020.

    I've recently come to the conclusion that my fantasy novel would be way too long to actually put everything into one book and still make it interesting. I'm starting to gravitate toward making it into a trilogy.
    However, this is new to me. I'm still in the planning stages mostly of my story: working on the plot, detailing the main characters a bit more, and writing chapter outlines. I'm starting to get a pretty good picture of what the first book will entail; the beginning, the ending (thanks to some great brainstorming suggestions on this forum), the character arcs and themes.

    Now my question, for those who have some experience with writing trilogies already or are working on one, is mostly: do you already make sure you have basically a whole outline in place as well for your second and third book before you actually start writing your first book? If not; how do you make sure everything falls into place? How do you make sure that you make the right 'promises' in your first book for instance, if you don't know yet what exactly will be the ending and outline of your second book?

    I'm currently watching the lectures by Brandon Sanderson at byu and greatly enjoying those, but skipping through the subjects I'm not sure i can expect anything on trilogies or anything of the kind.

    Very open to hearing some thoughts on this subject and possibly other questions that others have been struggling with.
  2. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

    Feb 24, 2017
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    I've known from the beginning that my MC's arc is too big for one novel, so I'm planning a trilogy. The way I am doing it, I am having one large story arc cover all 3 books, and it won't be permanently resolved until the end of book 3. In my case, that's a war between MC's people and their enemy. Then, I include sub-plots, which will begin and end in the individual novels. For example, my Book 1 will raise the question of my MC's family heritage (sub-plot A), and introduce a mysterious enemy who has a personal vendetta against my MC (sub-plot B). Sub-plot A is wrapped up in Book 1. Sub-plot B is (mostly) wrapped up, but leaves a little bit dangling to continue into Book 2. Main Plot (the war) is temporarily resolved in a final battle, but the war is not over.
    I have Book 1 rough draft done, and Book 2 and 3 I know the main plot points just based on where I want MC to end up and how I want my mysterious antagonist revealed, but I'll work out the nitty-gritty of those plots when I get there. I've got some backstory worked out for the characters which play into Books 2 and 3, but again, I'll flesh those out more as I get there. No point in getting overwhelmed at the start. Plus, as you write, you may realize things need to change from how they were originally planned.
    Freshpage likes this.
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jan 8, 2017
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    Rhode Island
    A flat "no" from my perspective. Books are really hard to write. Getting one finished is a massive endeavor without assuming there will be a second and third to follow. You might get two chapters in and realize the whole thing doesn't work. Or discover some new elements that take the story in a different direction. I don't do much preplanning, though. I usually write a bit, evaluate, plan a bit more, write that, kick a new idea around, try it, plan a bit more, evaluate, backtrack, fix stuff, reevaluate, etc....

    Lots of ways to do it. Different strategies work for different writers. No right ot wrong way, really.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2020
    OurJud, Viridian, Lawless and 4 others like this.
  4. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

    Mar 15, 2016
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    Write first, and decide how to divide it up later. If you get too concerned with where everything goes, you'll lose sight of the big picture.
  5. Viridian

    Viridian Member Supporter

    Jan 29, 2015
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    New Zealand
    Mine too is a trilogy, but I didn't realise that until I was a third of the way through book 1. Book 1 is now complete, but once I realised it would work better as a series I had to do a number of re-writes, and 10 drafts later it's finally ready. I have a basic outline for book 2, idea for book 3, know the arc for book 2 and have a vague idea of the arc for book 3. But I DO know the arc for the entire series as a whole - I just have to figure out the in-between bits. It's right what @Homer Potvin said - writing a book is difficult, more so if you're planning a series because in order to make readers want to read book 2 etc, you need to leave crumbs, unfinished business that makes the reader desperate to know what happens so they HAVE to pick up book 2 etc, but not so much they're left disappointed at the end of book 1. If you're planning all three 3 books from the get-go, then great, but it's a huge task before you even start writing. For what it's worth I found the easiest way is to think of a book as layers. You start with the first layer (first draft) - it's got everything in it, but it's not quite ready. Layer 2, add in more details (consider the five senses, are you giving the reader enough to really put themselves in your character's head?). Layer 3, more of the same, and so on. Maybe now you're seeing where those crumbs for books 2 and 3 can fit in, just enough to stay in the reader's head, but not so much it's a major part of Book 1. I ended up with 10 drafts, and some of the best ideas going forward came to me during draft 10. Of course everyone has their own way of getting ink on paper, and no way is the right OR wrong way - it's just whatever works for you - and the best way to find out what works for you, is to sit down and write. Hope this helps :)

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