Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Minus Two Makes Three

If you've been reading the blog for a while, or if you read back far enough, you'll see that Tales of the Blue Jade was originally supposed to be 5 books. That was my intention right from the time I wrote the first sentence of Ghost of Ping-Ling, and it stayed with me ever since. My initial reasoning was simple - every fantasy author writes a trilogy, so why not try and do something different? So when book 1 was accepted for publication I dutifully sat down and wrote out a 1 page synopsis for 4 more books. And, even if I say so myself, I thought the overall story looked pretty good.

Now it seems the plans must change. In my eagerness to be different I never for a moment considered things from the publisher's point of view - that agreeing to publish 5 books by a completely unknown and untried author was not exactly sound business sense. This would appear to be even more true given the current sad state of the world economy and the book business in general.

So, this last week the crunch came. I was asked by my publisher if I could see any way of cutting the series from 5 to 3. My initial thought was "no way." I was half way through book 3 and had never considered it as the final book, how could I change it without a complete rewrite? How could I suddenly turn around and end a series when the whole story hadn't even reached the main conflict?

What followed was a fairly stressful and dare I say depressing couple of days. Then I had one of those rare and wonderful "ah-ha" moments. I realised that by altering a plot point in one of the last chapters, or rather changing which character has something nasty happen to them (as well as who causes it), I could close off several sub-plots in a reasonably satisfying way. That didn't immediately turn book 3 into the conclusion, but it gave me confidence that the idea might be feasible, with a little more thought. And, I'm happy to say, idea followed idea, as small plot tweaks led to other plot tweaks, all of which gradually transformed the book from cliffhanger-ending-installment to (hopefully) satisfying-series-conclusion.

I think it's going to work out.

So, the long and the short is, Tales of the Blue Jade will now be a trilogy, with the final instalment due for publication in May 2013. I hope, though, to be able to dive back in to the world of Pangaea fairly soon after that, and maybe even find a way to incorporate the original ending into a new adventure. Pangaea is a very big world, and so far we've only scratched the surface.

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