Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What to Leave In, What to Leave Out

I came to a decision this past weekend, one I've actually been putting off for some time now. After giving the matter a lot of thought and applying a good deal of medicinal Kahlua (not to mention indulging in a Vosges Blood Orange Caramel bar...or maybe two), I decided to cut everything I'd written out of one of my WIPs and start the book over. From scratch.

I know. Ouch. Seeing it in black and white like that makes me wince too. Especially given all the time I've already put into it. However, it's not as bad as it seems...well it is, to be honest, but there's a light at the end of that particular tunnel; we'll get to that part in a bit.

This weekend's manuscript massacre was the result of on-going problems with the series, some of which I've been dealing with from day one. It's a pretty good story, if I do say so. People have really bonded with the characters and that's really helping to keep me motivated. So, thank you all for that!

But somewhere along the way the time-line for this series has gotten completely screwed up. When I told myself the story, it all made perfect sense. When I started to plot it out, however, that's when I realized I had a problem. All the action was happening at once and, trust me, there was a lot of action!

In addition, there are far too many characters for me to cram everyone's story into one book. Not even one really long book. And then there's the romance problem. Not everyone's story ends happily. And I'm still not certain how I'm going to address that issue.

Going through all of this has given me a lot of insight into how Tolkien must have felt when his editor decided to cut The Lord of the Rings into three separate books. Although, that was arbitrary and after the fact. What I'm doing is something similar, except I'm attempting to separate the different books out as I write them, which is a whole different headache-inducing endeavor.

And that's even before I try and layer in all the years and years of backstory.

The bright spot in this all? Most of what I've cut out of this book, and the one before it, I plan to add to the next book...or maybe the book after that. So it's not really wasted, it's simply deferred. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. 

Series writing is a very funny thing. Some series come together seamlessly, with each book standing easily on its own while still forming an integral part of the whole. Other series...not so much.

If you read series, what do you look for? If you fall in love with a set of characters or a particular world, does it bother you if the individual books don't really make complete sense on their own?  And if you write series, where do you draw the line between giving too much info away in the later books, or not saying enough?


daydrmzzz said...

I love series books and I absolutely LOVE!! your series The Children of the Night :)
I love the world building and the character development & growth in a series. In a series your able to big deeper in the the backstory that you would only be able to hint at in a standalone.I like to hear the whole story sometimes.
No it does not bother me if a book in a series can't be read as a standalone book. It's in a series for a reason is how I look at it. I never read a series out of order even if they say you can cause you will always miss something and I hate missing out.
Sorry you had to move things around for the story PG but GET TO IT! I need my stories. xoxoxo best of luck

Maria said...

I love series and what I look are thing like consistency with the characters, good plot development, secondary characters who make good contributions or have good reasons for being included, continuity of the story (I hate when something happens with the character and then we never get a resolution to it or it's never mentioned again) and either a HEA or at the very least a HFN:)

Meg Benjamin said...

Writing series is a bitch because you're always (or I'm always) discovering that you closed off a particular alley a couple of books ago and now you want to open it again. Yeah, if I were really organized, I'd have huge Excel spreadsheets keeping track of everything. But where's the fun in that?

PG Forte said...

Yeah, I'm on the opposite end of that spectrum--too much thinking ahead of time. I know where I'm going to end up with this series, it's getting it there in pretty, publishable packages that's giving me palpitations.

Sorry. Sometimes you just have to give into the alliteration. lol!

Kelly Jamieson said...

I've been working on a couple of series and it's not that easy! I feel your pain PG. Even when I wrote loosely connected books (like my 3 stories Power Struggle, Taming Tara (which was supposed to be named Power Exchange) and Power Shift) I discovered that I was constrained by things I already wrote and it really annoyed me and made things more difficult. I didn't plan those stories ahead of time, and then in Power Shift I end up with characters named Tori and Tara! I would never do that if I'd planned ahead!!

As a reader, I'm not fond of a series involving the same characters in every story (hence why I've never read JD Robb). I like series that have overlapping characters but each story features a romance (I gotta have my love story) with an HEA for at least one of the couples and I know that the other couple(s) will get their HEA in the next book(s). My favorite series is Tara Janzen's Steele Street books - I have no idea how much she planned those ahead of time but it's awesome how they all overlap and interweave. I read them all out of order because I disovered her books when she was almost done the series but they all made perfect sense on their own.

Erin Nicholas said...

First may I borrow the term medicinal kahlua? Lol!

My sympathies are cutting most of your ms. Been there, done that-- it sucks.

BUT, it will be better for it! I know you'll work this out-- you're amazing that way!

And here I am considering writing another series... why?? :)