Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tips on Planning a Trilogy/Series

Planning a series has made me a nervous wreck. I am reading as much as I can on how to make each book of my Middle Grade Paranormal Trilogy, a Standalone one. I liked Janice Hardy tips which I read on the blog- Literary Rambles.  It made a lot of sense and is helping me in plotting the 3 books, creating individual conflicts for each book and thinking about the character arc.

Planning a Trilogy does take a lot of effort. There are several things to keep a track of, there is a tendency to overdo on the backstory and there is a fear of repeating oneself. Writers have to create plots that can stand on their own feet and push the story forward.

 I am undergoing several fears about introducing too many characters in the first book and leaving too few for the next two. I am trying to create for each book an individual conflict, story arc and resolution.

When I read Janice Hardy’s interview in the blog- Literary Rambles, it was like a blessing in disguise. Here is Janice’s advice regarding a trilogy.   
     
1. Give each book a solid stand alone plot. The story can continue from book to book, but the more solid your core conflict is, the easier it’ll be to write. You’ll have a good understanding of the goals and stakes and won’t be floundering to figure out how it all fits together.

 2. Pretend the previous book(s) is the backstory. Don’t try to rehash or re-explain all of book one or two. Just pretend it’s part of the character’s history and treat it same as you would any other backstory. Once the first draft is done, you’ll know what needs to be fleshed out for new readers.

3. Keep revealing new stuff. Even if the plot is different, if readers don’t learn anything new about the characters or the world, it can feel like the same basic book all over again. Show new aspects of the world, the characters, the problems, the stakes, etc.

How many of you all are writing a series or a Trilogy. How difficult is it to keep  track of everything. Do you all have any tips that will make my writing a trilogy easy? Please share your thoughts with us.
  

20 comments:

  1. Rachna, Will wait to read your creation!I am sure it would be exciting!!Best Wishes..

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  2. sure..willbe waiting to read your work...:) till then good luck ma'am..:)

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  3. Good advice Rachna. Number Two is a tough call--assuming that many readers will pick up Book 2 or 3 and need to know some but not too much background.

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  4. Excellent pointers. I was thinking about the very topic myself yesterday and how clever authors are to keep a story flowing over several books.

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  5. I don't have any tips, but I certainly like the tips you shared with us, Rachna. Thanks. I have two different series on the back burner, so I definitely will keep those pointers in mind when I get back to them.

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  6. @ Rahul..it needs lot of planning as so far I have only written standalone books.

    @ Sogyel...thanks for your wishes.

    @ Slamdunk...I agree that No. 2 is indeed a tough call. I feel that I have to control the urge to overdo on backstory for fear of boring the readers.

    @ Madeleine..I envy writers who have the ability to write series.

    @ Elizabeth..I am trying to get as much help as I can to help me write and plot the trilogy. Am just sharing what I came across.

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  7. You are going to have to repeat yourself, so don't worry about that too much. You will have to remind people of the conflicts and characters of the previous books. I hated having to remind people about the abilities and history of some of my characters in my second novel. But as my editor said. It may be a day, or it may be several years before someone who reads the first, reads the second.

    It can be hard to keep track of everything. I outline like crazy to keep it all going in the direction I want. As you create, it will take on a life of its own so you need to be able to keep the work pointed in the right direction.

    Starting a series as stand alone books is good, but eventually your fans will read them in order and you can develop larger complex story arcs that span multiple books. TV shows do this a lot. Look at Star Trek or Stargate. Each season has its 'entry point' episodes. Monster of the week is what we call them. The overall story doesn't advance much but it allows new fans to jump into the series.

    Characters are kinda easy. Flesh them out on the side. You don't have to use all of the information, but it comes in handy when you get stuck or just need a prod to keep things going. For example, take a character. How old are they? What town were they born in? What was the name of their first grade teacher? Did they ever break a bone playing too rough, or chip a tooth? Who was their best friend? Did they go to collage or not?

    Is all this important to the reader or the story? It doesn't matter. But now you know why he doesn't want to take his date to the bowling alley. Because from second grade to ninth grade he was the state bowling champion and no matter how hard he tries. He won't be able to let her win.

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  8. I'm about to write the second book in a middle grade trilogy! This was some very good timing on some really great information! Thank you.

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  9. Yes, my YA fantasy is a standalone but it has series potential. I've plotted out book 2 and have conflicts and events in mind for book 3. It does take some extra work.

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  10. Recently, the projects I've started have been standalones--but my first novel I split up into a trilogy. Keeping track of all the information was one of the hardest parts for me.

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  11. Great stuff, Rachna. Thanks for sharing. The only way I like trilogies any more is if they're written as one giant story (think LOTR). Too many trilogies/series are just the same darn story told over and over. Even Harry Potter suffered from that a bit. She just did a great job of world and character building and mystery additions.

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  12. Not doing a trilogy, but I am writing another novel that has my same characters in it. But my writing partner is doing a trilogy. The second one hits bookshelves in January. So I know something about this subject. I wish you luck with yours, Rachna. And she didn't plan her trilogy. It started with one book. It was after she sold the first one that the trilogy was born. So one never knows. *waving*

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  13. Fascinating stuff. Not directly applicable to me, but I found it absorbing.

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  14. When I was in high school I started planning a trilogy (I wrote the first book but not the others). I just kept notebooks for each book with my information organized. You can get 3 or 5-subject notebooks for each book. One subject can be for the characters in that book, another section for the major plot points, another section for world building, another section to keep track of the details important for all three books, etc.

    Good luck, Rachna, and have fun with it!!

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  15. Thank you for sharing. It does take a lot to keep track of sequel books and ensure that material is fresh. My current WIP is a standalone, unlike my last WIP, so I don't have to worry about this currently, but I will keep all of these points in mind.

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  16. Good luck with your endeavor, Rachn.What a challenging project! Thanks for sharing what you are learning.

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  17. Good tips! Thanks for sharing.

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  18. I'm finding No. 2 becomes easier with time, and I suppose, with experience.

    Most of my epic fantasy novels are part of a broad series that will eventually include between 40 to 50 novels and an untold number of short stories. I've currently finished four novels, four novellas and a half dozen or so short stories in the series, and am currently working on the next novel.

    I've gotten to the point where I don't feel I have to bring up a bunch of stuff from earlier books and stories. As mentioned, it's just part of the characters' histories, so I only include what's relevant in each novel. Heck, sometimes whole characters and earlier plot lines go unmentioned because they aren't relevant.

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  19. For anyone planning a series for kids, I can't think of a better resource than the thousands of interviews with J.K. Rowling on Accio Quote! By going through them (in no particular order) it's possible to discover J.K. Rowling's process, how she planned Harry Potter, and what she believes are the two most important things a writer can do.

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  20. This is why in my opinion Harry Potter is so successful. There are new characters in each book. New spells. New creatures. etc. It keeps things fresh.

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