The last little while I’ve been working on teasing out the story plot for the sequels to Secrets. I finished writing the synopsis for book two last night and am moving on to the third and final one now; I have a sense of the central conflict, but I need to work out all the ups and downs leading to the climax.
I did this for Magestone (which I’ve been querying as Snows of Sorrow) once I got into revisions for it, too. I’m a pantser, so during writing that first draft of book one I mostly wing the whole thing. I could wing books two and three, too, and probably come out with an okay series, but it wouldn’t be very strong. I’d miss out on the opportunity to insert foreshadowing, or to make sure that necessary objects or characters are introduced early so they seem less deus ex machina. Revising earlier scenes to better allow later ones to play off them. These are things we do in revising a single book, to make sure the story arc is strong across the entire novel, but I think it’s just as important to do for a full series (assuming you know up front it’s going to be a series).
I remember reading the final book of the Harry Potter heptalogy and marvelling at how Rowling tied together all these plot lines and events and details, especially as they pertained to Snape. It was my favourite part of the series, because everything made sense when you saw it all together, even though I hadn’t seen it as I read. And I wondered, how much of all that had Rowling plotted out from the very beginning of the series? Had she known what would happen in book seven when she was just writing book one? I don’t know the answer to that, of course, though the internets suggest she did do at least some planning. (One person suggested this happened between books 4 and 5, at which time there was a longer gap in publishing, and the books start to become noticeably more complicated.)
I think one of my favourite things about Magestone/Snows of Sorrow is how it fits into the larger series story arc. I love the whole story more than any one book of it. I love how things from book one become important for book three, and how earlier events influence later ones in the series. I drafted the synopses for the rest of the trilogy about halfway through revisions of the first book, and I spent one round of revisions just making sure everything that needed to be in book one was.
With book two of Secrets now laid out I’m starting to feel excited about the larger story there, too. I can already see some stuff for book one that will need to be adjusted to reflect later action, but I’m enjoying watching it all come together into a strong arc.