Okay. Let’s face it. I dream big.
When I first decided to turn my little hobby story The Four Stars into a series, I had this grand vision of a 24-book series of compelling novels following the history of that world from beginning to end. But after working on a history of that world for a while, I now realize that some of the things I had planned just simply wouldn’t work.
I’ve heard about it over and over again, particularly when it comes to fantasy writers. We spend so much time and invest so much of ourselves into our work that we just want to keep writing long after the story is finished, which is great…if you actually have a story to tell. But frankly, when I decided I wanted to write 24 books in this series, I really had no idea what I was actually going to write about.
I began to rearrange my series at the beginning of this semester. My reasoning behind it includes several factors.
The first thing that I changed was the series name. Instead of simply being The Star Series, I have now changed it to Legend of the Stars. I listen to a lot of music, and I have a playlist of “theme and end songs”. Because I “watch” my stories in my head, having a song to inspire my story actually helps me get a better idea of where I want to go with it when I sit down and write. This is what happened with the series name. I was working on ideas for the last book in the series, (because I like to get ahead of myself), and listening to the song “Homecoming” by Thomas Bergersen when I got an idea: wouldn’t it be awesome if it turned out that it was someone telling the stories after the recreation of their world? But if I was going to do that, The Star Series just sounds like a lame title. And so I changed it to Legend of the Stars, a name that I had played around with long before deciding to turn The Four Stars into a series.
Another thing that inspired some changes, namely my recent decision to cut the main series down to 12 books instead of 24, was my new-found love of history books. I’ve always loved history. But due to the fact that I have been taking several history classes this semester, my love of history has grown. The most influential of my history classes is Medieval Europe. Because my books are primarily medieval fantasy, it’s really no surprise that I’ve found this class to be helpful in my writing. But it also inspired me to write a “history book” of Altha, the world in which my series is based. As I worked on improving my timeline and wrote down the history, starting with the mythology before the creation, I discovered two things about my original plan: one, I didn’t have enough inspiration or story to tell for some of the books I had planned; and two, some of the stories I had inspiration for had little to no bearing on the theme of the series. They were books about adventures and the lives of various people who lived in this world, but the series itself gained nothing from them.
Thus, I sat down and picked out the twelve I felt were the most important to the series. I also kept this thought in mind: “If this series is supposed to have been written by someone who lived in a world of evil to a generation that has never known evil, which stories would they consider to be most important to their goal of preventing evil from coming back?”
Some of the planned books I eliminated altogether, putting the ideas, instead, on a list of possible short stories. Others I set to the side to be written later, maybe just as fun little side books.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with planning out a series ahead of time. However, there is always the danger that the books will become more of a personal comfort than an actual, legitimate story. As I learn more both about writing and about the real world that in many ways I’m trying to imitate, and as I get a clearer idea of what my goal is in writing a 12-book series, I expect there will be some changes. But then again, that’s the beauty of writing. There is always something to learn. You can never be “good enough”.