nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

a muse takes over – structuring a project

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When I wrote the first ‘book’ for my sci-fi series about enslaved humans on the planet Meniscus, I really didn’t know where the series was headed. The characters were clear to me and my focus was the building of a relationship between the main two characters, Odymn and the Slain. However, as I neared completion of the first story, I discovered: the first book needs the guidance of the second to set the stage for a book series.

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book-cover

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By the time I completed the draft of my second ‘book’, I knew where the series was headed. This is a story of how a small group of human beings overcome all odds and challenging enemies to rebuild a social structure stolen from them.

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vicki

Vicki, Odymn’s friend in Prell-nan, plays a very minor role in the first two ‘books’ and a major role as the story progresses.

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In the end, the project will be five books, telling the story in sequence. I thought I would begin this series of posts near the middle of the creative process, when I am deciding how to frame and present my five books and the one over-arching story.

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Each book in the series will tell one part of the over-arching story, in the form of a long poem. This will be accessible poetry, written in short lines and stanzas. The less-accessible part of the story will be the vocabulary and strangeness of the planet and the characters.

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Each book will have its own story arc and these stories will build on one another. Each story will feature recurring characters and a few new characters. All of the stories occur in a particular area of the planet Meniscus, known as the Prell-nan South District (Prell-nan is the main urban area in the story). This allows me to expand on the original five books, if the muse continues to inspire me, into the North District!

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a map to go with the story

a map to go with the story

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Presently, the five stories are in different stages of completion. Book 1 (Crossing The Churn) is in final draft and with my editor for comment. Book II (South from Sintha) is in final draft. The story arcs and drafting of Book III (Winter by the Water-climb) are mostly complete. Book Four (The Town at Themble Hill) is experiencing the agony of story arc resolution. Book Five ( ?????) is in early, early draft.

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At this point, I am trying to make sure the five stories are balanced in their presentation. To do this, I keep in mind the length of each story, measured in terms of the number of words,  ‘chapters’, pages and characters.

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To present this in a table:

number in series book title number of words number of pages number of chapters number of main characters
1

 

Crossing The Churn 9,821 147 33  

4

 

2

 

South to Sintha 8,648 104 31 7
3

 

Winter by the Water-climb 12,877 147 53 13
4

 

The Town at Themble Hill 11,389 108 47 16
5

 

???? 761+ 10+ 11 so far ??

 

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As you can see, these will be short ‘books’, probably readable in about 2-3 hours, allowing for the poetry and a bit of challenging alien vocabulary.

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This post’s bit of advice:

if you are writing a series, knowing the content and story arcs of the subsequent book(s) will help inform the story and content of the previous book(s).

This worked well for me in writing the “Saving the Landing Church” series (see https://janetims.com/2015/07/03/writing-a-novel-draft-by-draft/ ).

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Copyright 2017 Jane Tims

 

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