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18 August 2008 @ 03:37 pm
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.

miles to Isengard: 194.2
ytd miles swum: 7.1

(x-posted from the essential kit)
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Laura Anne Gilman: almost-there dragonsuricattus on August 18th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
*rueful laughter*

Oh yeah.
kitmizkit on August 18th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)

*laughs lots*

*shares sympathy*

*laughs more* :)
(no subject) - suricattus on August 18th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mizkit on August 18th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Natural20natural20 on August 18th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
You are Robert Jordan and I claim my five pounds!

This is just the sort of cynical attempt to get more money out of your reading public that we should have expected!

Or, more seriously, yay, more books! :)
kitmizkit on August 18th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Didn't I *give* you TQB? :)

*laughs* Well, I haven't heard back from my editor yet, so I don't know what the end decision will be, but I do suspect it'll be more rather than, er, fewer. Or something. :)
(no subject) - natural20 on August 18th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mizkit on August 18th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Fiction Theory: humerusfiction_theory on August 18th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC)
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.

I feel you. It wasn't until I really began to become a writer that I understood how ideas just up and r-u-n-n-o-f-t and don't care whether you have to swallow past words because of it.

But, in your possible defense, some of this is less about your writing and more about the fact that publishers have limits on how long the book can be. If left to your own devices, there might be fewer books that are just...way longer.

All this having been said, I can't see how you coming out with *more* books is a bad thing. At all. I mean, more books from you is like getting extra gravy on the taters.

If you're willing to write six books, I'm definitely up for reading them :)
kitmizkit on August 19th, 2008 10:22 am (UTC)
I'm seriously considering emailing all the "if you want to write six books I'll buy/read them" comments to my editor... :)
(no subject) - ceosanna on August 19th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - fiction_theory on August 19th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
wednesday childewedschilde on August 18th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
wooot! :::grins:::
Beshterbeshter on August 18th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
ROBERT JORDAN! Not only did he carry out a series that could have been done in six books to infinity, but then he didn't get the last one done before, (very tragically), he passed away. My friend, who is a huge fan of that series, about died himself of frustration.

Thankfully I think his estate is coming out with something.
mela_lyn: Lilacsmela_lyn on August 18th, 2008 04:20 pm (UTC)
Brandon Sanderson is actually going to be completing the series. Robert Jordan's wife was his editor and together they worked to put together as many notes as possible and write large snippets together. Brandon also worked with Jordan when he himself was becoming published.

Read Elantris and you will see that Brandon is a spectacular writer! And he is working hard to keep the series with the same tone and style as Robert Jordan. If you go to his LJ (mistborn, I think... he's in my friends list), he has updates all the time on his works and the Jordan project.

I too have a friend who about choked when Jordan passed and the series was on the last book. She keeps telling me to read it, but I'm waiting til the last book is out. :)
(no subject) - beshter on August 18th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mela_lyn on August 18th, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mela_lyn: I have huge booksmela_lyn on August 18th, 2008 04:16 pm (UTC)
It's actually quite nice to see the thought process behind it b/c there have been many times I have bitched and moaned excessively b/c it's like a Catch-22... I love the world and want to stay there but I WANT. MY. ENDING!! :) So to know that the writer may be struggling with it and not just going 'oo, I can makes me more money' or the editor/publisher is saying the same thing... yes, I do feel the kindling of sympathy for the writer's plight. :) Maybe I'll go finish reading that Farland series now.
kitmizkit on August 18th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
...and this is exactly why I posted this. :) Yay!
Nicholas: laughingnwhyte on August 18th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)
On a different topic, have you seen this comment on realism?
Sanguine Pensanguinepen on August 18th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
TQB Is the best thing you've ever written. I would happily sit on pins and needles for half a dozen books.
Ysysabel on August 18th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
I think you got the right density on TQB. If you need six books of that density to tell the story, then please, please do so. *grin*
Jeri Smith-Ready: voice of crowjer_bear711 on August 18th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
LOL! This is why I joke about mine being one of those "rare three-book trilogies."

And then I came so close to turning Book 3 into a duology. But the time to negotiate a fourth book is NOT when you're in the middle of writing Book 3 ("Oh gee, I've got too many plots. Give me more money."). So I didn't even try, and now I'm glad. :-)
(Deleted comment)
kitmizkit on August 18th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
*You're* the one who wondered what idiot wrote such huge manuscripts when you got your own back in the mail. Do I get a pass on being mocked until that happens to me? I said hopefully? :)
mayakdamayakda on August 18th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
A series is all well and good but pretty please ... don't end on cliffhangers? *whimpers*
kitmizkit on August 18th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
Well, I didn't realize TQB was a cliffhanger ending until people started complaining about it. (My editor stared at me when I confessed this.) The Inheritors' Cycle are the first books I've ever written where I think it may actually be one novel stretched over several volumes. It might be harder to avoid cliffhangers when that's happening... :)
The Bellinghmanbellinghman on August 18th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
Next time you see autopope, just stay away from him, OK? Because I think it's catching.

(In his case, it's his Merchant Princes ... cycle.)
Dinidamedini on August 18th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
There are series that go on and on and on, tellking the same story (usually LOTR) over and over.
And then there are groups of books that just keep going deeper into the world and the characters and the story.
Lackey's Valdemar is one example of the latter. As are the PERN books.
I am skeptical about you being the sort of writer who does the former and rather expect the latter sot of series.
Don't worry, just let the story tell itself. When it's done, let it end. You are fortunate; you have more than one story to tell.
ruford42 on August 19th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
I'm hopeful that the series goes beyond three. I really don't see how it could be wrapped up in three volumes, at least no three volumes that any book binder won't charge a fortune (or tear down a forest) to put out!

It's not my personal favorite of your series, for that I'd have to go with Negotiator -- but reading TQB took longer than anything from Walker Papers or Negotiator Trilogy in part because of the way scenes and times skip around, in part because of the more archaic tone of speech, but largely because the more I read -- the more scenes unfolded in my head and left me hoping someone would also come along to purchase television / movie rights...though I'd think it'd have to be at least a miniseries to work in even enough elements of book one!

Though...Just so you know, not only am I looking for the next several books in the series -- I also wouldn't mind seeing either short stories or novellas giving us more information on either Eliza's adventures or say Ana's backstory.