Although I am in the middle of editing Summer’s Cauldron (Young Sorcerers Guild Book 2), I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the second book in The Wizard of Time series and the series as a whole. I had originally intended WOT to be a seven book series, each novel taking place roughly a year after the last. My thought had been to chart the growth or Gabriel and his powers as he moved from teenager to young man. However, it was always a bit of an artificial decision. I had chosen the seven transformational stages of a hero’s life from Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces as a story arc framework for the series. The seven stages he lays out are:
1. Childhood of the Human Hero
2. Hero as Warrior
3. Hero as Lover
4. Hero as Emperor and Tyrant
5. Hero as World Redeemer
6. Hero as Saint
7. Departure of the Hero
While this is an interesting idea, and one that provided a roadmap to suggest where the larger story would go, it was also a limiting framework.
As I began to think about the series more, and the timeline for writing it (in addition to the YSG series and potentially the Starship Destiny series, not to mention a number of other stories I want to tell) I realized that a seven novel series might be too much. Especially since I would like to start writing the epic fantasy series I have in mind sometime in the next two years.
This led me to thinking about what kinds of series there are and how I might adjust my plans for WOT. It seems there are three basic types of series.
- Series that are open ended (Dr. Who, Disc World, Doc Savage, Harry Dresden, Star Trek, etc.). Even though the series ends, they could be continued.
- Series that have a definite beginning, middle, and end (Lost, Battlestar Galactica (the reboot), The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, etc.). When the story is over there will be no more.
- Series that end, but get new life by telling different stories in the same world (Star Trek, Disc World, etc.)
It occurred to me after looking at this list that I had made wise choice in deciding to make the YSG series both open ended and give the first story cycle a definite ending. I’m not sure how many books there may eventually be in the YSG series, but the first story cycle follows the four seasons, which creates a built-in limit. That story cycle will end with the fourth novel. But the world of the and characters of the series could produce another story cycle that might be a trilogy.
So, deciding to think in terms of story cycles rather than simply the number of books in the series, I determined that I can compress the story arc I had intended for seven novels into a tight action packed trilogy. Which leaves the series open for additional story cycles later. After the next two WOT novels are finished I’ll think about what story cycles might be told in the future (about the past). Much of it will still be inspired by Campbell’s stages of transformation, I’m sure.
I’m not sure how long the series will go on for, but my thoughts at the moment lead me to believe that you stop writing a series when the possibilities of the characters or the world have been exhausted. Or when you get bored with it. Or so excited by something else that you can’t continue anymore. Of course it will also have to do with demand. If no one seems interest in more WOT, there might not be as much incentive to write more stories after the first trilogy.