(As a reminder, this is a question I received in my first blog-style Ask Me Anything.)
Matt Ud asks, “Be honest: How much do you plan your stories over a whole series of books? Does that change based on your style and experiences between books?”
The short answer is that I have a rough idea, but not the full picture.
I only have one series right now, the Translocator Trilogy, and I thought it was a short story when I started it.
As I worked on it, I realized it was a novel.
As I worked on it some more, I realized it was a trilogy.
For me, stories have always evolved as I worked on them. The characters get deeper. The plots get more intricate. The motivations become more clear.
I need to know where I’m going—where I want to end up—but I don’t need to know all the details.
When I realized The Auriga Project was the first book in a trilogy, I took a step back and tried to sketch out an idea of what would happen over the course of the three books—some people call the plot over the course of a series the “meta plot” or the “series arc(s)”.
But I certainly didn’t know all of the details that ended up in The Alien Element. I didn’t even write out a synopsis for each chapter of The Alien Element until March of this year.
So I plan as much as I can and trust in the process for the rest.
Maybe other people won’t agree, but I’ve always found that as long as you know where you’re headed, keep an open mind, and work hard at writing words in a certain order, the rest will happen on its own.