I have a much clearer picture of where some of them will go before they get to where they need to be. For a few others its still a bit murky but I have at least figured out the central dilemma they will face.
And throughout all of this I need to remind myself of the following: "You're writing a story that spans 20 years told across 5 books. Take your time!" What I mean isn't take the next 20 years to write the thing, rather take my time in moving my characters along. I need to make sure they don't arrive at the place they need to be (physical as well as mental and/or powerful) too soon. Yet at the same time, I don't need them to suddenly rush there at the very end out of the blue.
This is where pacing and plotting present quite the challenge. I need to learn to use the 5 year gap that will exist between events in each book to my advantage. Certain growth and change I will need to show in the books, but I have the luxury of those 5 year jumps that I can really make work to my advantage if used properly. What I don't want to happen is to have to spend a portion of each subsequent book trying to find a series of flashbacks as sort of a how we got here from there...tool. I want to work in any drastic changes as naturally as possible.
I'm expecting to get a far share of writing done during the next couple of weeks as I will mostly have the place to myself during that stretch.
At the least, I'm hoping my main antagonist will find himself moved from the prison cell he currently unofficially occupies to married into royalty on a new king's progress with a newly born son being tended to. And I'm hoping one of his grandsons (one of the main protagonists) will find himself moved from uncomfortably acting as duke in his mother's absence to fleeing into exile with his trusted knights as he sees his ducal seat taken by raiders from the sea.
I've realized this first draft will require me to break my habit of writing the draft from beginning to the end straight through and instead write chunks of each POV character at a time to be pieced back together.
I really like the subplots that have finally emerged. I think I (and hopefully future readers) will really enjoy them.
I've also worked out some of the themes and issues I want to explore. I'm not into messages or lessons as far as books go. I've an idea about how I can introduce certain ideologies through certain characters and see how each plays out without passing judgment upon any of them.
And I am especially eager to discover just which side in the story's central conflict each character will be drawn to. While the central conflict is between Light and Dark each side has its share of good, evil and shades of grey. It will be fun to see sworn enemies finding themselves on the same side and lifelong friends finding themselves on opposite sides. And trying to keep the reader guessing as to who is Light and who is Dark in the first place.
As I've mentioned before (I think on my lj page) I'm amazed at the transformation of this story of mine from where it started way back in Math class in junior high school where I jotted down a list of names on two pieces of paper, to where it is now, a 5 book epic fantasy story.
Now, back to my antagonist and his little problem of being held against his will, sort of...