Friday, January 8, 2010

On Writing Series . . . Backwards

Oh, my, it's been awhile but I have a good excuse: I've been writing! Other Worlds Writers' Workshop hosts a year-end Book in a Week challenge every year, and I used it to finish the second book in my alternate history series. That makes three written in the series, which brings us to the topic of this post. The first book written in that series is actually, chronologically, now the fourth. Who knew?

I sure didn't when I wrote "The Devil's Lieutenant" which is still languishing in final review at Baen and needs to go somewhere else soon if they can't give me an answer. I wrote DL as a standalone novel, thinking that was it. But the backstory is huge, and the story as it developed doesn't really end with DL, though that is, happily, one of the few actual standalone books I've written. I discovered myself wanting, really badly, to explore the backstory as well as write the two books it will take (probably, it could be more) to bring the series to a conclusion.

So now I'm writing the series backwards, which has a whole host of problems writing series forwards doesn't present. DL is finished and out the door to publishers, so I am constrained by a lot of what I wrote in there. On the other hand, it gave me fantastic structure for the 3 books that will come before it. I knew before I launched into the "prequel" trilogy a lot of what needed to be in it.

However... having just finished Book 2, "Rebel" (working title) I see some stuff I need to change in DL simply because the way things actually transpired in the Darkblood War are a bit more logical than the way they were described in DL. It may be that God has been telling me to hold up selling that one until this trilogy is finished so that it is consistent end-to-end.

The good news is that the changes are relatively minor and would not hold up a sale of DL as it stands, nor should the news that there are 3 books in the series ahead of it. They are set far away, with mostly different characters, but lead directly to the events in DL. You just don't need to have read them to make sense of "The Devil's Lieutenant."

I am so happy with "Rebel." The first third is good, the last third is excellent, the middle third needs an axe, which is what I'm working on at the moment. I hope to sub it for critique on OWWW by February, so I'm off to revision hell.

May your own series go well. Write them forward. Trust me--it's easier!