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Structure of a Fantasy Series

In case anyone was wondering, the Ten Thousand Years refers to the time-line for my novels. I have stories spanning that period, ranging from fantasy to science fiction, following the influences of five royal families on the history of the world in which my stories take place.

The first story I am writing is a 5 book series detailing the first major war on this world.

This series presents an interesting challenge for me. The story takes place over a 20 year period. In order to accomplish this there will be a 5 year gap between each book.

Now, this is where the challenges arise. Having page one of the next book take place 5 years after the last page of the previous book automatically brings with it certain limitations. For instance, gone are the cliff-hanger endings - sort of. I certainly cannot have the main protagonist captured as the climax of a book since we skip ahead 5 years. I can, however, have the child of a secondary protagonist captured. Seeing this character after being fostered against his will would certainly present some interesting conflicts (which is why this is currently part of my overall plot).

Since there are these jumps in the story time-line each book will need to be as standalone as possible while still being part of the whole. For a long time this series was 3 books with a 10 year gap between each. I recently sat down and looked at this series from a new perspective. I looked at it as though I was an historian in the story's world and realized that, while the plot itself was important, the change in the political landscape as a result of this war is what history would focus on. As a result of this, I expanded the 3 books to 5 in order to be able to move the overall story to make the political change seamless.

I've also realized that I will probably have to write the 1st draft of all 5 books before writing a finalized manuscript for the first book. I tend to discover surprising characters and subplots during the actual writing process. Knowing how I write, I am sure I will end up having to backtrack the beginning or foreshadowing of events in the series that I won't know about until I write the other books,

My first structural challenge is the opening of Book 1. The opening of the novel takes place in a particular domain. Events take many of the characters from this domain to the place where the main conflict will happen. However, some of the characters stay behind but their stories are part of the overall story arc. So, I'm fast approaching the opening section of Book 1 encompassing 25% of the novel. I will need to find a balancing act between presenting the events in both domains.

Overall, I'm looking forward to the challenge. This story has floated around in my head and on paper in a very rough early half of a draft, since I was in Junior High School and does have the opening passages of the original 3 books sitting in a notebook. Plus I have extensive notes jotted down over the years. Just last week I stumbled across a detailed account of the final battles for the last book. That will prove to be quite the time saver and already provides me a specific place to work towards.

 

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