Great subject, as far as I'm concerned. I've been working on several long term series, and you know what I've learned about managing the big arcs? Not much.
Okay, let me break this down the way it's always worked for me. I write in what I tend to think of as the "tapestry" method. There are a lot of characters, a lot of threads, and the idea is that I use those threads to make a cohesive story. I have to weave them together well enough that a whole tale is told. What I should point out, however, is that I am also a person who believes that art and life should look rather a lot alike. To that end, I almost always have loose threads at the end of a story. When the story starts people are already having lives. When it ends, the survivors will continue to have lives, though they will often be severely altered.
For me, every chapter of a novel is a short story. It's just that those short stories are connected. If the chapter doesn't move the story forward, I cut it away. Why? Mostly because I'm unbelievably wordy, and I can usually cut a few chapters of detritus without much pain.
Every scene, every chapter, every arc is part of the greater tapestry and when I am done,. nothing is completed. The main story arc is finished, but the world is likely going to move on and so are many of the characters. In the Seven forges series I have written four books and a LOTY of story arcs have been finished, but not nearly all of them. One of the main overlaying arcs, the war between Fellein and the Sa'ba Taalor, has been completed, for now. The war is done. Both sides survived and both are definitely changed by the experience. Several of the characters are virtually unrecognizable. They have changed to that level. So too the land of Fellein, which has been brutalized and broken. So too the Blasted Lands, which have been altered by the actions of gods.
No one and nothing stays the same. That's true of my story arcs, too, The war is over. For now, There are still plans for Fellein and the Sa'ba Taalor. They will involve conflicts but they may not involve a full on war. One major story arc is done. (actually, several) but more possibilities are opened n the process. if there is never another novel in the series then I have told my tale. If there are more, then life goes on and threads left discarded and dangling are once more woven into the tapestry.
I have plans for Fellein. There are murder mysteries to solve, political battles to wage, new parts of the world to explore. Oh, so many plans.
Time will tel if I get to weave that tale, but the biggest parts of the pattern are all there for people to see, even if, as sometimes happens, those patterns are unpleasing to some.
Never leave your tales unresolved. But don't be afraid to leave a few loose strands to continue on in the tale. Just because Harry Met Sally, that doesn't mean they get together right away, It might take decades.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Long Term Arcs-Managing the big arcs
I write fiction, a little of everything and a lot of horror. I've written novels, comic books, roleplaying game supplements, short stories, novellas and oodles of essays on whatever strikes my fancy. That might change depending on my mood and the publishing industry. Things are getting stranger and stranger in the wonderful world of publishing and that means I get to have fun sorting through the chaos (with all the other writer-types). I have a website. This isn't it. This is where you can likely expect me to talk about upcoming projects and occasionally expect a rant or two. Not too many rants. Those take a lot of energy. In addition to writing I work as a barista, because I still haven't decided to quit my day job. Opinions are always welcome.