We’ve invited Karen Sandler, author of Tankborn and the sequel, Awakening, to the blog to share her wisdom about how to plot a trilogy. In her first guest post last week, “The Trouble With Trilogies,” Karen shared the challenges she experienced while plotting the second two novels in her Tankborn series. Today she shares five useful tips for writers taking a stab at trilogies:
Five Tips for Writing Trilogies
- Keep notes on the culture, including governmental structure, societal structure, flora and fauna, religion, and local calendar. You’ll want to refer to it often.
- Draw a map and keep it up to date. In my case, the Tankborn series takes place on a planet called Loka, in which there are different regions called sectors. I added sector names to a map as the stories progressed. I had to keep track of the fact that, for example, Daki sector was northwest and Sona sector southeast.
- Keep a list of character names. I didn’t do this as much as I should have, which meant I had to constantly search the previous manuscript for a particular name.
- Keep track of your invented terminology and other names unique to your story. While some of this I scribbled in a folder (for example, the names of the trinity moons on Loka are Abrahm, Avish, and Ashiv), most of my invented words were incorporated in a glossary that appears in Awakening, the second book. I’ll keep adding to this for the third book, Revolution.
- In the end, sometimes you just have to let story take precedence over continuity. I know some readers will exclaim, “Wait, she never talked about this in Tankborn!” But some things are just too good to leave out even though I hadn’t thought of them while writing the first book. Nothing I have added directly contradicts the Tankborn world (GENs—genetically engineered nonhumans—aren’t suddenly being genned with wings, and Svarga’s Got Talent! isn’t suddenly the new hit TV show). The additional material fits the current society/culture, it just wasn’t highlighted before.