Long before I sold Passion Play
to Tor Books
, I had a novel draft that included pieces of the story that eventually became Allegiance
. Back then, the book was part of a much longer story arc, and I happily meandered along, not worrying about tying up plot threads.
Then Passion Play
Then my editor told me I had to deliver a Grand Climax within three books. It didn't matter if the series continued, she said, but readers would not be happy if I didn't give them a solid resolution Soon.*picture me running in circles going eep, eep eep*
She was right, of course.
Which then meant I was writing a trilogy, not an open-ended series.
After revising Passion Play
and Queen's Hunt
, I launched myself into what would be a completely new version of Allegiance
And I do mean completely new. By this point, many characters had died or disappeared entirely, most of the plot threads in the original opening were gone, and the second half was completely new territory. None of which was daunting by itself, but all I could think was that I had to nail the plot and the climax and the resolution within 100K words.
Then I flailed, producing five or six different openings. All of them were okay, but none of them right. The only thing I did know for certain was how the book and the trilogy should end. But every time I tackled the opening chapters, or the middle chapters, I ended up in a pit of despair and loathing.
I froze again.
Then I did the sensible thing and talked to Delia Sherman
, who is wise and kind and used to explaining things to panicked new writers.
"Of course it's hard," she said. "It's the last book of of a trilogy."
Then she went on to explain how trilogies were like rivers. They liked to spread their plots into different channels, exploring new side stories and new characters, which is a fine for books #1 and #2, but with book #3, you need to drive the channels back together before your story empties into the sea, or you run the risk of having your plot disappear into a swamp. And forcing strong currents back together takes effort.
She said all this so calmly, that the gibbering in my brain quieted and I was able to start thinking clearly at long last.
So for my next writing session, I decided to try something new.
I wrote the last set of chapters. (Easily! Quickly!)
Then I wrote a few chapters in and around the middle that I had a clear fix on. (Mostly easily!)
Then I picked away at chapters here and there until I had a draft that ran, more or less, from end to end.
Then I sat down and examined what I had.
It was a mess, but it was a mess with far more structure than I had feared. It still wasn't there yet. At this point, I talked with a number of friends who had read the first two books. The glimmering of a theme appeared, and as I worked through the next draft, I began to get a clear picture of what this book was really about, and how it fit into the larger story of the trilogy, and into the even larger story of the series, written and unwritten.