Writing a trilogy has a massive set of challenges with plenty of room
for error, such as inconsistencies throughout the entire trilogy–or a
series of books in general. But I’m going to specifically be speaking
about a trilogy since The Stars Trilogy is, well, a trilogy.
off, I’m going to mention that just because you’ve had one book in your
planned trilogy published doesn’t mean the second book is going to
automatically be accepted for publication. In fact, before my previous
publisher folded, The Stars Are Infinite actually received a
rejection the first time due to length, which could have been remedied
had I spent more time with copy editing. In fact, the second book was
the most difficult book I’ve ever written…and it’s the easiest one for
readers to gloss over in a trilogy since the human brain naturally
remembers the beginning and the ending much clearer than the middle.
you’re shooting for a mainstream press, the publication of your second
book depends entirely upon the sales of your first. A smaller press
usually doesn’t have such stringent expectations, but it’s not going to
be any easier for your second book to land a contract.
while you may be tempted to write out the entire trilogy, I advise you
don’t. After all, the edits for your first book may completely change
the direction of your second book. The edits for When Stars Die
completely changed the direction of the second book, even though it
didn’t drastically change the first ten chapters. But I was glad I
didn’t have the second book fully written out with the original
direction I had in mind, or else I was going to have to rewrite the
entire thing anyway. Yes, it’s great writing practice, but don’t create
unnecessary work for yourself. The editing process with a publisher is
already taxing as it is.
What are some things you can do to ensure a solid trilogy, to keep up with everything contained within it?
- Keep all of your notes from the previous book(s).
This allows you to keep track of the major points from your previous
books so that you can seamlessly transition into the next book. It also
helps to keep down on the number of inconsistencies as much as possible.
For example, only witches can see Shadowmen (dead witches) in my
trilogy, but in my second book, I made the mistake of allowing these
Shadowmen to be apparent to everyone. Luckily my awesome editor, who
doubles as my best friend, caught this, but now I know to keep the notes
I wrote for the second book so that I don’t make some colossal error in
the third book that may ruin the entire story.
- Keep all of your notes…period.
Even if you don’t use some of the ideas you’ve written down for your
current book, you may be able to implement those ideas in ensuing books.
- Re-read the previous book(s). Yeah, you are going
to be reading your book to death during edits to the point where you’re
going to start hating it. But even if you can recite your book word for
word, it never hurts to go back to ensure you don’t miss a single detail
when writing the next book in the series. Even the smallest of
inconsistencies can have the potential to throw off the entire book.
- Keep lists of characters and their importance. Throughout
your trilogy, your cast of characters is likely to grow, which means it
can become complicated to keep track of them and when and where you’d
like to use them. Thus, it helps to keep a list of all of your
characters and their important functions to the overall plot of the
trilogy. You’ll also want to keep track of character development.
- Keep notes on the world you’re building. You’re
going to want to keep track of the type of world you’re building and
how it’s developing. Use whatever methods work for you, whether it’s
sticky notes or just a journal. You want to treat your world as you
would a character, so it needs to develop .
- Don’t repeat.
You don’t need to repeat a character’s history, physical traits, or
even personality traits. Astute readers will remember all of these
details, and many take the responsibility upon themselves to reread the
- Standalone. The best books in a
trilogy can function as stand-alones while also being able to seamlessly
transition into their following books. You’ll also want to keep notes
of plots you have yet to tie off so that way you can ensure you complete
these in following books.
- Timescale. A lot of writers struggle trying to figure out just how far their sequels should be set. The Stars Are Infinite is set eight years after When Stars Die.
The sequel to TSAI will be set a few months after. Whatever time you
choose, make certain it is imperative to the story. Why does TSAI take
place eight years after WSD? Because the protagonist in TSAI is
different from the one in WSD, and she needed time to grow up in order
for the plot to have more of an effect.
My Ask Box is always open for questions!