>> Tuesday, February 2, 2010
If you are writing a series, trilogy, or any other form of linked books, my recommendation is not to write all three books or to continue the series until you’ve sold the first one.
(Read the full article. She has specific reasons for this advice, and it's an interesting piece. There's also sister posts about series that are worth looking at.)
It's advice I've heard before, and I also know some authors and writers who work this way (one book on submission, working on an entirely different project).
Merc's reaction: "Holy crap, are you trying to scare me into having a heart attack?"
Now, don't get me wrong, this is fine (the advice, not the heart attack) if that's how your process works and you can pull it off. I'm quite impressed (indeed, awed) by writers who can finish one book, polish it and submit, then switch gears and only if the first book sells, begin (contractually) writing the rest of the trilogy or series. Hats off to you folks who do this.
I'd probably collapse from nerves at the very idea of trying it. (And that wouldn't be good, because then the zombies could get the upper hand. Or brain.)
See, the way my process works is something like this:
- 1.) write a crappy draft
- 2.) decide it's entirely wrong and needs to be rewritten from scratch*
- 2a.) hopefully not more than five times**
- 3.) figure out if this is a series book (if it is proceed to step 4. If not, return to step 1 and 2)
- 4.) write another book in this series or world
- 4a.) find out all sorts of stuff about the world/characters that must be changed in book 1
- 5.) rewrite book 1 (again, if need be)
- 6.) write the next book (repeat steps 1, 2, and 4)
- 7.) have three drafts in some chronological order so Merc does not freak out
- 8.) polish and submit book 1
- 8a.) actually figure out what the hell happens if book 1 is accepted (most likely with heavy doses of panic because the entire series is not done and OMG WHAT NOW)
So, yes. I'm not confident or comfortable enough with a series unless I have several books drafted. Because I change things so much. I'm tracking my progress while writing (rewriting, actually) my novel NECROMANCER RISING on my LJ. In between that and writing on a non-novel with Spartezda (prequel-ish to NR), I've discovered quite a few
While I may plot out a novel in odd ways, my writing process requires that I world-build and develop characterization by writing. Those things don't work the best when planned out beforehand, since no one (i.e. characters) actually listens to me. I need to write a draft of a novel before I have a good grasp on what I want, what works, what direction I'm taking things, and who these people are (and what the hell they are doing in my story).
Is it a lot of work and frustration? Yeah. But I need the 'wrong first draft' to get the wrong angles and bad plot kinks and unusable characters out of my head. Then I can write the book I want right.
Jessica's advice makes sense from a business perspective, certainly. If book 1 won't sell (and even if the other books are stand alone, they might not sell either) you may have wasted your time. Fair enough.
The thing is, I have to love and believe in a project before I'll get anywhere near polishing it for submission. If that story is a series, then I'm going to write the drafts of several books. 'S just how I work. ;)
If I tried the "one book out, then don't touch the rest unless it sells" many panic attacks and no writing would occur. It would make the zombies happy (they love it when you're paralyzed) but it would make Merc cranky.
How about you guys? Do you write more than one book regardless, or do you go for writing one book, sending it out, then working on a new project while you wait? Some combination?
*After a period of several months so ideas and the book have time to gel before starting again on Teh Rewrites. This step is unavoidable.
**Case in point, my first NaNoWriMo novel.