Doh!

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I keep forgetting to post! I have for the last what, three Tuesdays, thought, I must post at Magical Words today and then it’s like, Thursday, and I’m going, “AUGH.” So, belatedly, some catch-up:

Point the first: Comic-Con was amazing. Rather than reiterate, I will point people at my posts here, here and here. I’m sorry to have missed Worldcon and my fellow Magical Worders, but Comic-Con was well worth going to. Wow.

Point the second: I finished the fourth Walker Papers novel about ten days ago, rather unexpectedly. It came in shorter than intended, though not actually all that short: about 103K, instead of 110K. So that was about…six weeks of actual writing, I think, though it was two months elapsed time. Not too shabby, really. So that’s been turned in and I’m ON HOLIDAY. Which is part of why I can’t remember to post. 🙂

And point the third: an actual writing post, on the evolution of a series.

So back when I started THE QUEEN’S BASTARD, I knew it was going to be a big book. I was guessing around 175K. My editor said, “Glack!” and we cut the book at a place which I actually am *really* pleased with; it allowed me to do a shift for THE PRETENDER’S CROWN that wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if the book had ended where I initially planned for it to. (Plus, where I’d initially expected it to end turned out to be at about the 230K mark, which, well. O.O) And at the end of the day, TPC wraps up with more or less the ending I’d expected for TQB, rather than the one I’d expected to reach by the end of the second book.

Consequently, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to deal with the third book in the series. I called the series a cycle instead of a trilogy, because by the time I turned TQB in it seemed pretty likely I wasn’t going to be able to wrap the series up in 3 books, and “cycle” lets you write as many as you need. 🙂 But we’d never really discussed whether or not Del Rey would be okay with a more-than-three-book-series, and so I’ve been kind of trying to write a proposal that pulled the series together and completed it in the third book. I wrote the first three paragraphs of the synopsis–a chunk that *could* be covered in the prologues that are part of this series–and realized that yeah, it *could* be a prologue…or it could be a book all on its own. The fact that I’m struggling with it finally suggested to me that I was really leaning toward it being a book all on its own.

So I ended up emailing my editor to say so how many books do you want this series to be? It could be three, it could be four, it could be five. It’s not impossible, given that it took two books to tell the first part of the story, that it could end up being *six* books. My guess right now is that four is a nice number, but I’m reluctant to actually pinky-swear that one, given that I used to be quite sure it was a trilogy.

And this, gentle readers, is how series grow out of control, and how what was originally billed as going to be 5 books becomes 12, or 3 books becomes 6, or what-have-you. I have myself complained bitterly about writers who can’t seem to end a series, and therefore feel a bit sheepish at the idea that one of my own series is expanding beyond what I initially expected it to be. OTOH, I now have far greater sympathy for it happening, and find it kind of interesting to view from the inside.

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3 comments to Doh!

  • Glad you had a good time at ComicCon, Catie. I’ve heard great things about it and hope to attend some day. Thanks for the insights into the growth of a series. My second series turned out to be five books, which I found intimidating at the outset. It worked out well, but I have to warn you that the problems inherent in the second book of a trilogy are even harder to deal with when they span the second, third, and fourth books of a five book sequence. Good luck with that.

    And congrats on the huge success of TQB!! Last I checked it was the number one bestselling trade paperback on the Locus fiction list!! You totally rock!

  • Well, the curious thing is I pretty clearly have a *story* to tell in what would be the third book. It wouldn’t have the middle-bridge part that 2nd books so often have. So I’m real curious about how this will work out.

    I *saw* that, about TQB! Thank you! I’m really excited about that! *beams* I was so surprised!

  • “I have myself complained bitterly about writers who can’t seem to end a series, and therefore feel a bit sheepish at the idea that one of my own series is expanding beyond what I initially expected it to be.”

    But those complaints are about writers who won’t give up on a story that has clearly reached its end. You recognize your story is still being told. When you reach the end, you’ll know.

    Baaaah! 😀