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May. 17th, 2008 | 02:27 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful

I missed a week, and nearly missed this week (I count it an entry if it falls between Sunday and Sunday, so I'm just squeaking in under the deadline here). However, I have an excuse: I was graduating! Very exciting. Now, though, I am home and sufficiently unpacked and relaxed to resume writing.

I worked some more on The Dogwatchers. I'm intrigued to realize that it may unexpectedly have a villain. Before, I thought it was shaping up to be a sort of "huge misunderstanding/lost person" plot, which is, roughly speaking, how the plot of Rabbit and Cougar goes. (The two stories take place in the same world, but are not otherwise connected.) However, a villainous character who I knew figured in one of the characters' backstories has reared his head, and I believe he will add an excellent new dimension to the story. I'm rather questioning of my ability to write villains, but I think this one's motivations are coherent, though not probably sympathetic. If the two extremes of sympathy levels are moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash villain and angst-ridden always-meant-for-the-best villain, this one is definitely closer to the former, though hopefully still an acceptable compromise.

In miscellaneous writing thoughts, I think it must be very hard to write a set of books. I say "set" and not "series" because I think of a series as something which, besides a basically coherent world and character or group of characters, need not connect the stories too much. A series could be the Animorphs books, or the Baby-sitter's Club; like many TV shows, it seems like it could pretty much keep going as long as there is an audience. There may be arcs that span multiple books (or episodes), but things tend to be pretty wrapped up at the end of each one.

A "set," on the other hand, might be better represented by the Narnia, Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings books. (Fantasy is what I know, all right?) When one has three books that are closely tied together and which clearly build one storyline and have one real climax and resolution (despite possible mini-climaxes and resolutions within the separate books), one generally calls it a trilogy; four can be a quartet. One might even have quintets, but when a set gets to be more than five books long, people tend to call it a series. Personally, though I do sometimes mention "the Harry Potter series" or such, I like to differentiate. A set of books is meant to go all together; generally, the whole set was planned at the same time, and the books tell more of a story together than they do separately - not just a longer story, but a bigger story. I have heard that a trilogy and a three-book series are different things, and this is, I think, the difference. Tolkien, I'm told, thought of his famous trilogy more as one book than three, and I've heard similar things about the Harry Potter books.

The reason I think it must be difficult to write a set is that early books are published before later ones are finished. (If one writes all of the books before publishing any, the difficulties I'm about to discuss disappear.) I often have to go back to earlier parts of my novels to make things consistent with a new change, or to hint at what's coming later. Losing the ability to do that would be terribly difficult for me to deal with; the only thing I can think is that successful writers of sets either plan very, very carefully or just have an extremely good idea of what they mean to write. Of course, I'm sure that in some cases multiple books are written before any are published. This seems like it would help, even if one still had to finish the last book or several books with the first few set in stone, as it were. (Or whatever modern book-printing devices are made of. Probably not stone. Probably something less alliterative.)

This is relevant to me because I am planning, probably following this novel or the next, to write a set. It still needs considerably more fleshing-out, but I was thrilled when I realized that the idea I had was simply too big for one book. I think it will probably be a quartet, though possibly a trilogy.

On another note, exciting news! Reynard's Menagerie, the magazine that accepted my short story "This, That, and Th'Other," just put out the issue before the one in which that story should appear. This means that I could get my contract any day now. Also, the current issue not only includes a story by my friend Michelle, it features her story on the cover with a cool illustration! Check it out!
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