I’ve been spending the past month or so busy with plans for rewriting/rethinking my new series. It’s been hard work, but interesting.
One thing that I’m doing differently with this series than I did with Alex Verus is to plan it out from the start in much more detail. If you’ve been reading my author commentaries, you’ll know that Alex Verus wasn’t originally envisaged as a long-running series – in fact, back when I wrote the first draft of Fated, it wasn’t intended to be a series at all. Cursed and Taken were also written as standalones first and series books second. It was only around book 4 that I started to think seriously in terms of a long-term plot, it wasn’t until book 5 that I actually began to decide what that long-term plot would be, and that long-term plot didn’t really kick in until around book 7.
Having the series be mostly unplanned had both pluses and minuses. On the positive side, it meant I was free to experiment and throw in weird new ideas from whatever I was interested in at the time. A lot of the most popular elements of the books stemmed from random ideas that I came up with on the spur of the moment and just decided to toss in because they sounded fun. It also meant that the series was free to evolve in surprising ways – none of the major storylines ended up where I’d been originally intending to take them, which I quite liked.
But it caused problems too. Not all of the sub-plots in the Alex Verus series ended neatly – in quite a few cases I was forced to make a choice between having a plot go in the direction that would make for a neater and more coherent story, and having it go in the direction that was more consistent with what I’d established about the characters and the world. In the earlier books, I tended to pick the first option; in later ones, once the world and characters were more developed, I was more likely to pick the second. In both cases, it meant some readers got upset. There was also the issue that, in the long term, not planning things in advance caused me a LOT of extra work. I’d frequently run into blockages where I just didn’t know where to go next – if I was lucky, that meant a week or two of thinking and planning, whereas if I was unlucky it meant realising that I’d taken a book in the wrong direction and having to rewrite it completely.
So with this new series, I’m taking the opportunity to try something different: I’m planning out early books (and possibly even the entire series) in advance as far as I can. I’ve currently got roadmaps for the various threads of the story that stretch out several books into the future. My hope is that by the time I finish the rewrite of Book 1, I’ll have a general plan and shape for the series as a whole. I don’t know if I’ll manage it, but it’ll be fun to try!