What a lovely day. Got up early to do some research before driving up into the mountains to have lunch with a friend. Brilliant lunch at a fine Mexican restaurant, a nice visit. Then drove down the mountain in what turned into a massive thunderstorm - wind driving the rain sideways, trees bent at the waist as if bowing to the road, cloud to ground lightning piercing the darkened sky. It was awesome. But sadly, we have no electricity, so I'm doing this on my iPad.
Today's escapade was also a three hour round trip drive, so I had a chance to do some thinking about the projects I'm working on. Thinking time is highly underrated. But it means when I get the manuscript back open - remember, no power, ergo no laptop - I will have tons to get down on paper.
Tammy asked about the kind of planning I do for the story arc for my series. I will admit to giggling a bit when I read the question, simply because I never knew I was writing a series. I had written a book that I liked a lot, and sent it to an agent who also liked it alot, but it didn't sell to the New York houses. My agent pulled it from submission and told me to take the same characters and write a new book. Me, being a young writer with no real thoughts past the end of my nose, did, simply picking up the story where the last one ended. That books was ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, and when I finished it and sent it in to him, I did what made sense, which was start the next story, right where the second left off. So when Mira bought Pretty Girls in a three book deal, I had the next book well underway.
But I have to admit, when they asked for three books, I panicked. I hadn't thought about these characters as having the kind of longevity they'd need to sustain a multi-book series, Taylor begin a rather inflexible sort, and not much for change in her personal thinking - really, heroes don't change too terribly much over the course of the books.
So I had to do a lot of thinking about how to make the series sustainable. All I knew for sure was I didn't want Taylor to age. So I set each book seasonally. Which means over the course of books 1-4, only one calendar year has passed. The same holds true for 5-7. Taylor has only aged about 16 months during the first seven books.
So I guess I did give it some thought....
I had an idea for the third book, and my agent was okay with it, so I gave it to my editor in our first face to face meeting. I had a great idea for the fourth book in the series, but I had no second contract at the time, so I was being all kinds of clever and holding back the idea as an incentive to get another deal. My editor, who was also a clever sort, loved the fourth book idea. She told me not to worry about the next deal, and took the idea as the third in the series. That was JUDAS KISS. Thankfully, they gave me a new contract for books 4-6 soon after.
I never saw this series past three books. Suddenly I needed to get it stretched to six, and soon thereafter, nine. The further in I got, the easier it was. But I never thought more than two books in advance, so all kept fresh.
What's cool is if you have great characters, you can always find a story for them. So my advice is, plan a bit, but don't get yourself married to a story arc. Things change. Characters change. Editors change. Having a loose idea of where to go should be more than enough. I know where I want Taylor and Baldwin to end up. But I want them to find their way there on their own terms, not mine.
It is my dad's birthday, so if you'll excuse me, I have a dinner to attend. And cake to eat! More tomorrow, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!