Cup of Dcaf: Writing a Second-World Fantasy Series


The fantasy genre is famous for long series, and many of the highest-profile authors have received their share of criticism for how long the series went. Whether it was Robert Jordan when The Wheel of Time bogged down in the late middle of the series, or George R. R. Martin for the Meereenese Knot, or whoever the author du jour happens to be, the fact is that lots of fantasy series slow down at points. Why this happens is a subject of debate, where many people accuse authors of moneygrubbing and others think the writers just wrote themselves into corners, there is a certain solidarity that I have discovered as I move into writing more seriously.

When you create a world, and put hours and hours and days and days into building it, fleshing it out, making it rich, you become proud of it. You want to bring this creation to your readers. You want to draw attention to how cool it is, how shiny and different and unique. And this turns into a self-propagating spiral. You get further into your world, and it gets richer in your head. That new picture you have begs to be put down on the page.

And that’s not the only reason that series end up extended further than planned. Often, the author realizes that the story is simply going to take more room to write than anticipated. In my recent State of Writing update, I noted that the Burning Shadows trilogy will in fact be expanded to four books. This came about during a little bit of outlining I was doing on the chronology of events across the whole series. I realized pretty quickly that the events I had planned for the third book would not fit all into one book (unless I write a 1200 page monstrosity or something). The logical step was to make a thematic break and split those events into two books.

And so here we are. I haven’t even finished my third novel ever and I’m already seeing my series growing. I have a bit more appreciation for why some of these authors’ series got to where they did, and understand a little more about the realities of writing fantasy series.

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