For almost 2/3 of my life, Derek’s lived in my head. For those who don’t know, he’s the main character in my big books. I decided his story could be told in 4 installments, which included the discovery of who he is, the consequences of his actions, trying to right all the wrongs, and finally achieving peace.
About 18 years ago, Cameron stalked into my brain. (It’s actually really crowded in there, but people get disturbed when I tell them about the voices in my head, so I don’t mention it often.) He was meant to be only a supporting character, but then we both discovered he was more than he seemed. Over the past decade, his role in Derek’s story expanded to the point that he directly influences it, including the villains planned for book 4.
Last week, I determined I need to figure out the events of book 4 to make sure I had all my squirrels in a row for book 2 (Isto, which is my current WIP). I started down my usual route of exploring character goals and dilemmas, and the events needed to get me to the end. I realized it was going to take a while before Derek achieved his peace. He had to deal with family and PTSD first. Bringing in the villains before Derek’s breaking point was going to muck things up, but bringing them in after felt like I was jumping into a completely separate story arc.
That’s when I came to the terrible realization: This series needed another book.
A few choice swearwords left my mouth. You see, I had my book covers finished for my four-book series. They follow a theme relating to my elemental clans. Lucky for me, I do have five elemental clans. Unlucky for me: the only unused clan has nothing to do with the events of the now-book-5.
That hijacked my brain processes into MUST-FIGURE-OUT-COVERS mode and I spent the weekend logicaling my way through titles and symbolism in a mental shell game. The unused clan fit best with book 3, so book 3’s cover got moved to book 4, book 4 to book 5, and an new cover was created for book 3. But then the titles no longer made sense with the symbolism, so the titles for books 3 and 4 swapped. Then I needed a title for book 5 and I didn’t have a good option that would fit on the cover. So, I created a title that would fit and jumped back into book 2 to integrate it into the story.
It’ll be amazing if I finish this series within my lifetime. On a positive note, I’m finally into rewriting my big battle scene. Once I finish that, I’ll reread the story again before reaching out to beta readers with what will hopefully be an improved draft that won’t require major story changes.
Have you ever planned or written a series? Do you spend time figuring out events for future books? Have you had a character hijack your story?