On Monday I mentioned what a total disaster Book Five of The Academy of the Accord is, so I thought maybe I’d take some time to explain why it is such a mess and how it got to that state.
See, The Academy of the Accord didn’t start out to be a series. It didn’t even start out to be The Academy of the Accord.
Once upon a NaNoWriMo, I set out to write a stand alone novel about two characters (a wizard and a warrior) on a journey. It was going to explore themes such as prejudice (the wizard – Senzu – was non-human) and bullying and rumors and innuendo (the warrior – Draethlen – was the subject of rumors saying that he was a lover of men, based on nothing other than the fact that he is small, not bulky, and not a “typical male” behavior-wise.)
So far, so good.
Then there was a flashback – Senzu remembering where she had seen Draethlen before.
Then, since Senzu got a flashback, it seemed only fair for Draethlen to have one.
And that’s where the trouble started.
His flashback sort of… grew. I don’t remember where it started, but it continued into his learning to be a warrior and began introducing a bunch of other characters.
(This is what happens when I don’t use an outline.)
Somewhere down the line I abandoned the original story and started with Draethlen’s flashback. No longer a flashback, it became the basis for a novel that eventually became The Academy of the Accord.
(At the time it didn’t have a name, just a Word doc called “Wizards and Warriors” which was never going to be its title because there had been a television series with that name.)
Anyhow, so far it doesn’t sound too bad, right?
Well, it wouldn’t be too bad if it had ended there, but remember, this is a twelve book series that we’re talking about.
So how did it get to be a twelve book series?
I have no idea.
I had that first book.
Well, the second book – the one the first book turned into. Whatever. Let’s call it W&W because of its file name, okay? Okay.
Anyhow, somewhere along the line some unwritten back stories were threatening to shred continuity, so I started a new document named “Back Stories for Timeline Purposes.” (Yes, that was the actual file name.)
“Back Stories for Timeline Purposes” mostly followed Kordelm, Wellhym, Torlew, and Caristen from students to adults. Then somehow Yhonshel was added, and a bunch of stuff happened, and it became another novel – a prequel to W&W. This ended up being Book Two in the series that I didn’t know I was writing yet.
And then I needed something about how it all started so I wrote Marsden’s and Vinadi’s story, which became Book One.
And then I decided to follow Caristen and Torlew as Journeymen wizards and that became Book Three.
Remember Senzu’s flashback that indirectly started all the trouble? Yeah. It got expanded on and became Book Four.
As for W&W (the “first” book) it is now Book Five.
But it tried to do too much so I had to separate out part of it – and that part is now Book Eight.
Book Eight? What happened to Books Six and Seven?
Don’t worry, we’ll get there. Eventually.
Book Nine came next. Sort of. I think I started Book Ten before I finished Book Nine.
I also wrote Book Eleven before I finished Book Ten. (Book Ten sat at about 30 pages for quite a while.)
Then I started book Twelve, but separated the start of Book Seven from Book Five before I finished it.
Book Six is the last one written.
Welcome to my world.
Roughly, this is the order in which they’ve been written:
Crazy, isn’t it?
Crazy is what it’s making me. Stuff in later numbered books changes stuff in lower numbered books and the earlier books chronologically have established stuff that is contradicted in later ones.
And yesterday I left myself a note to add a conversation between Marsden and Arnissa about a pair of children he met because I need them again in Book Six (and maybe Book Five).
So, the whole series is a mess and a nightmare to edit and I really wish I’d started a concordance from the very beginning – or at least as soon as I realized that I was dealing with a series.
And Book Five in particular is a mess because I’ve separated at least parts of three or four other books from it, and at least two of those overlap the end of it (and the beginnings of them run concurrently with each other.)
And with everything that I took out of it, it became rather too short. So I added a couple things, one of which I’m keeping but moving to later in the novel, and the other I’m not so sure I want to keep at all – or if I do I’m going to move it to later in the series, probably Book Eight because that’s where the inciting conversation originally happened.
Writing is fun. Editing, not so much. Times twelve.
Or twenty four, because I have to do this all over again as the books come back from beta readers.