You need to know how it ends before you begin.
I’ve had a lot of questions lately from friends and coworkers to the tune of “why are you starting your second book before you finish the first one?” (Book 2, codename Russian Guyovitch, will be my NaNo novel for this November.) Well, I’m trying to practice what I preach, here. I’m that person who goes on and on about how many TV shows (and books, but not as often) suffer in their finales from a lack of knowing what their show was growing to. I’m quick to point out that this is an inherent flaw in the production cycle of television – the schedule for those shows is just insane, and whether another season will be picked up is so uncertain that long-term plots are nearly impossible. I love episodic storytelling (love love), and I can’t help thinking how much more awesome TV can become if the writers are allowed to begin crafting a story with an end in mind. The mind reels at the possibilities. (Web TV is the solution, but that’s a whole other post for a whole other time.)
This is how you achieve the kind of continuity and foreshadowing that makes readers/viewers’ heads explode. This is how you craft a finale that is satisfying, not just “well, they did the best they could, I guess, based on what they already made.” (Ahh, if only LOST knew where they were going as early as season 1…)
So yes, I am starting my alpha draft of book 2 before finishing the gamma draft of book 1. The point is to understand where I’m going better, so that I can dovetail the ending of 1 into the beginning of 2. I’ve also got the plots of the other three books bubbling in the back of my head. I know how it ends. I’m a little hazy on the details of getting there, but I do know what the aftermath looks like. I’m convinced that you MUST do this with a series. Too many genius authors say it is so. You have to build in subtle bits early on that you ping back to later, and then when you finally close the loop at the end? It rules. There’s just no other experience in this world like a well-crafted story.
I’ve never completed one, mind you. But I shouldn’t have to put down that caveat much longer.
/cast iPod [Tron: Legacy soundtrack]