Completing a Book Series

Completing a Book Series

Last week I wrote the final chapter of Pierrot’s Song, the last book in the Tales of Tarya series. The story is complete. Obviously I can’t say what happens, because spoilers, but in the nature of fantasy trilogies, every loose thread I could find has been woven in. Every character has reached some sort of conclusion. There is a resolution to the mystery that Mina uncovered. Mina, and those around her, can move on to new adventures.

Of course, at the moment this book is only a first draft, so I’m not setting it aside just yet – there will be a lot of editing ahead. But a wise author once told me to celebrate every achievement, and this is certainly one of them. Writing a story that is sustained over three books is definitely a marathon.

Long ago, when the stars still sang…

Writing a novel is like catching stars.
Photo by Rakicevic Nevad (c/- Pexels).

I can’t really remember exactly when I began writing the Tarya series now. But it’s probably been around twenty years. In that time I have had children and watched them grow up. My eldest is about to start university. (I’m pretty sure I wasn’t long out of uni myself when I started writing Harlequin’s Riddle!) I’ve completed two degrees and several different certificates. I’ve moved house three times. Both parents and a brother have passed away, as well as others that I love and miss.

Twenty years is a quarter of a lifetime. And I have changed with the years’ passing. The person who began writing that first book is not the same person who is in my skin now. Life happens to you. Hope becomes a little worn down, some dreams are caught while others escape you…

Crafting a series

Over twenty years I’ve also developed as a writer. Writing is a craft that takes time to develop. There are layers upon layers of skills to learn. Putting sentences together is only the beginning. Learning about voice or tone or pace adds to your skills. Finding ways to weave theme and metaphor, emotion and humanity through a tale is another level of challenge.

Sustaining a story over a three book series requires its own skill set. Continuity becomes incredibly important. Keeping your world, places and characters consistent over an extended time takes good organisational skills. I have a Tarya master document that is broken up into many sections. The added complication with my books has been that I need to keep track not only of the real world, but of Tarya. There are seven ‘levels’ in Tarya, and each has its own characteristics, in terms of appearance but also in terms of what Mina (and others) can do there.

Resolving the mystery

One of the biggest challenges I faced over the three book series was writing the mystery. What Mina uncovers in Harlequin’s Riddle is only the beginning. She thinks she has uncovered what is going on and who is doing it. But as she discovers in Columbine’s Tale, the terrible secrets at the dark heart of her world can be traced back many years, and the perpetrator is not who she might think it is. The problem goes deeper than she imagined, and it will not be easy to solve. From the beginning, I knew what was going on (plotter, not pantser!), and my task was to give out snippets throughout the three books. Laying clues like crumbs, I had to pace them so readers got a taste of the bigger story, without giving away too much too soon.

bookThen, in the final book, I had to draw it all together. That’s been an interesting process. In the end I made myself a list with lots of instructions. “Make sure you …” “This has to happen …” I needed resolutions not just for the overall story, but for things like romances and individual character arcs. And even working from that list, I’m pretty sure I’ve missed something. So my next step will be to read all three books from beginning to end, making notes as I go. Finding all the threads that I think need resolving.  It won’t end there either. After the rewrites, I’ll give the Pierrot’s Song to beta-readers, and I’m sure they’ll tell me if I’ve missed something that needs resolution that I’ve missed.

The bittersweet of endings

As the end of the story drew closer, I found myself reluctant to sit at my desk and write. I didn’t want the story to end. But I knew it had to. All stories come to an end. It is the nature of stories that we have resolution. (Life is never so tidy!) Then, when I was nearly there, the last two chapters wrote themselves, taking on a momentum that was exhilarating. I felt like I was on a roller coaster as the last words fell onto the page.

Having finished the final chapter now, I have some of the feels, but I’m sure there’ll be a lot more later. It definitely feels like a great achievement to have completed a three book story, but I know there is still a lot of work ahead. Which means I don’t have to say goodbye to Mina and her companions quite yet. When I do, that will be a wrench. But for now, I have set the manuscript aside to gain distance. Then I’ll go back and polish it until it shines. Only then will I be leaving the world of Tarya. But perhaps only for a little while…

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