Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Plotting Backward

Anyone that’s been following my blog or knows me know that I’m a panster. As in flying by the seat of my pants.  I don’t do a whole lot of plotting, and I don’t outline at all except for revisions.  I always know how a story starts, and have a sort of idea of how I want it to end.  Everything that happens in the middle I just sort of pull from my ass.

I’m going to be trying something different for the Kassidy books.  I’d like it to be an open-ended trilogy.  It’ll work with the series arc I have planned, and I’d like for there to be more books in the series than three.  There will be more in the series than three.  

Here’s the thing.  If I land a contract Kassidy (after finding an agent, of course) it’ll most likely be for two to three books.  If for whatever reason Kassidy doesn’t sell, I won’t get a new contract for more books.  That actually happens a lot in the publishing world, and I don’t want to frustrate future readers by leaving them hanging on the edge of a cliff at the end of the third book when there’s no guarantee there’ll be more.

So I want to get the series arc set up, but concluded satisfactorily in the first three books, so that if worst comes to worst, my fans won’t be disappointed.  

That’s fine.  I already know what’s going to happen in book three, and how it’ll end, and it’ll be a very satisfying ending indeed, but there’ll be enough set up that I could—and hopefully will—continue with more.  How many more, I’ve no freaking clue.  I’ve never planned a project on this scale before.  Not seriously.  I write lots of first books, but they never go anywhere.  

Kassidy, though.  Kassidy’s story and her world will carry me far, I think.

Okay, so my panster instinct is to just go with it, right?  I know where I’m going to be ending that third book, and that’s all that matters for me to write the journey to get there.  But I’ve been doing that with my YA trilogy, and while it’s been working, I feel like book two is just one of those blah bridge books.  Hence the reason I’ve never been able to work myself up to finish the stupid thing.

I do not want that to happen to Kassidy.

My outliner friend is going to laugh herself sick if she reads this, and take great enjoyment in pointing at me and saying “I told you so!”

Dear readers, I, the panster extraordinaire, am going to try outlining the next two books.


Chances are good that something surprising and unexpected will happen and I’ll end up throwing the whole outline out the window, but I’m going to try.  I have my end, so I’m going to work backward from that, focusing mostly on the beginning, middle, and end of the two books needed to complete the trilogy.  That’ll give me plenty of wiggle room, but also give me a firm guide to keep me on course so I don’t get distracted by shiny subplots.

We’ll see how well this works.

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