Ask An Author: "When planning a trilogy, is it necessary to have everything laid out?"
Each week, a new author will serve as your Camp Counselor, answering your writing questions. Kat Zhang, our final counselor, is author of the Young Adult series, The Hybrid Chronicles, and is a frequent participant of NaNoWriMo.
When planning a trilogy/series, is it necessary to have everything laid out? — Anonymous
Very few things about the writing process can really be called “necessary". Only “helpful” to varying degrees, based on your own process. That being said, having the basic plot of a trilogy/series laid out beforehand can be very helpful, and will probably save you a lot of heartache later when you realize while writing book three that you really need your hero to secretly talk with bees in order to defeat the Big Bad. Unfortunately, you never brought that up in books one and two and you either have to come up with a different ending (if books one and two are already published, and can’t be changed) or you have to go back and rip up a lot of stuff in order to make talking-to-bees a possibility.
Of course, this sort of goes back to to the whole “plotter versus pantser” thing. Some people outline meticulously before ever writing. Other people are much more go-with-the-flow. Both can work. Just know that a trilogy can be an unwieldy thing if there’s too little planning involved at the start!
If the question was meant more in the vein of “Will my agent and publisher expect a summary of books two and three when they sign me for the trilogy,” then the answer is “Yes, they will”, but generally, they won’t expect anything too detailed, and everyone will understand that things do change.
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