It’s a terrible affliction, plot expansion. Many writers suffer from it, where it seems as if every time they turn around, their story is getting bigger and more complicated.
I suffer from plot expansion.
I’ve said before that, back in the day, AOS was only going to be one book. One! But then I caught PE and it became a trilogy. Well, a trilogy isn’t so bad, right? Right?? Lots of authors write trilogies. Three books is a healthy number, not too few, not too many.
Then I actually got started working on AOS, and, well… Suddenly there was going to be a sequel to the trilogy. Then the third book needed a companion novel. Then the third book was going to be too long to be just one volume. How many books is that? Six.
Yesterday, one of my critique partners started reading Sin Beyond Redemption, which is the title of what was the second book. He got back to me almost right away with some comments about the start of the book.
SBR starts about 1500 years after The First Sin. That seems like a huge bit of time, but to the årdrakin it’s not really that long. But in the middle of that 1500 years, some events happen that are still pretty important to the story progression. What I had done was write an introduction to SBR that summarized those events, because I didn’t think they could fill a whole book. Then I launched into the start of SBR and off I went.
Well, my critique partner immediately pinged me and said it was disappointing that the story didn’t start with the events I summarized in the introduction. “I was a bit put out,” he said. Hmm. HMM.
I value his opinion, so I asked around in the other writer communities I’m in. I got a variety of responses back from across the spectrum. “I think you can speedrun [those events],” one person said, while another (my other critique partner) said she liked SBR the way it is. But then there was, “As a reader, I would be max offended if something really meaningful happened off screen,” and “If there’s a lot of important info that you need in order to understand the events of Book 2, then that’s actually Book 3 and you need to flesh out what happens in Book 2.”
And that’s the thing… Without knowing those events occurred in between TFS and SBR, the state of the universe in SBR won’t make sense. People rightly pointed out that not everyone will read the introduction, just like not everyone reads prologues.
I went to bed feeling a bit frustrated. I didn’t want to add another book, but I also don’t want to do my readers a disservice either. And every once in a while since writing that introduction, I have had flashes in my imagination, scenes that would take place in that in-between time. Plus, it has never really sat right with me that SBR starts with sign #3 instead of sign #2…
I still suffer from PE. While laying in bed waiting for sleep to claim me, a spark ignited in my brain: the new book could be called Emergence. And once I had a title, and ideas for a working cover design, well… This morning I sat down and plotted out those in-between events and it turns out I can make them into a book.
So here we are. AOS is now a saga: six books in the main series, plus a companion novel. I really have my hands full.